Transcript after the jump.
I assume you read the title, so there’s no use waiting. Let’s get right to it.
First, I’d like to take a look at some video from the Duke-Georgia Tech game – the ACC Championship. It was clear from the get-go that the Yellow Jackets were making a concerted effort to get Favors the ball, but their inability to feed the post was evident early on. There are many examples of the little mistakes that their guards make when trying to set up their post players. In this first one, you see Favors calling the play himself – he points over to Peacock on the block and tells him to slide over so he can set up a pick and roll with guard D’Andre Bell. As he sets the pick, his defender flashes up to guard the ballhandler far too quickly. Favors recognizes this mistake right away and rolls to the basket, but Bell throws the pass too far down and Favors loses what would have been an easy dunk.
On this next play, Favors will come up to the high post to set a screen for Shumpert, but Shumpert surprises Favors by throwing a lazy pass instead. The pass is picked off by a floating Jon Scheyer, who drives all the way back for an easy layup while Shumpert jogs and watches.
Here, you’ll see Favors getting to the low block and establishing solid position on the smaller Lance Thomas. Shumpert tries to throw Favors a quick bounce pass, but it is too far to the left and ends up in the hands of Nolan Smith, who drives to the other end of the floor for an easy layup.
Before you think I’m just cherry-picking the three worst examples from this game, just know this: these three turnovers occurred in the first two minutes of the ACC Championship. That’s right, the first two. The Yellow Jackets ended this game with 17 turnovers, and many of them were silly mistakes just like these three. To compare, Duke only committed 10 turnovers, and in a game decided by four points, those seven possessions make all the difference.
Right now I’d like to take a look at what I think is the clearest example of Tech’s inability to include Derrick Favors on offense. On this possession, he gets good post position down low. He’s squared up on the same side as the ball and he’s looking for the pass. It’s defensible that Udofia doesn’t pass him the ball here, since D’Andre Bell is on the right side and the man can easily go help down, but the offense could have been created through Derrick in the post here. Instead, let’s see what happens.
The ball gets kicked back out, and Derrick sets a screen for Bell, clearing him from the right side. Now there’s no reason not to kick him the ball. He’s got a great seal and his extending his arm towards the basket, which would allow him to spin and finish right at the rim. However, Udofia decides that an easy dunk is simply not worth it, and opts instead for a pick and roll at the top with Gani Lawal. Udofia rolls to the left side and Derrick follows him, getting great position for the third time. he’s right in Udofia’s field of view, and Udofia picks up the ball to pass. Is he going to pass to Derrick?
… Of course not.
Udofia tries an ill-advised lob pass to Lawal down low, which he is barely able to catch. He then tries a spin move and throws a layup over two defenders, which promptly bricks and sends the offense the other way.
This is an awful offensive possession for Georgia Tech and shows exactly what the problem is. Derrick Favors, who’s a great talent, who’s a top-5 pick in the draft, has post position three times, and the point guard simply refuses to give him the ball. Instead, he opts to give the ball to a guy who’s not in position, and has to throw an ill-advised pass to get it there. It just doesn’t make sense.
These kind of plays were common in Georgia Tech’s offense. Between shooting quick contested shots, not finding Favors when he’s open at the rim, throwing entry passes away, and flat-out refusing to exploit his mismatches, Tech failed Derrick Favors time and time again. As a big man, you’re naturally reliant on your guards to get you the ball, and when they aren’t doing it on a consistent basis, your numbers are going to suffer. I can’t wait until Favors gets on the floor with NBA-level creators like Jordan Farmar & former All-Star Devin Harris and he realizes just how easy the game of basketball is supposed to be.
In part 2, I’ll take a look at how Favors was able to produce with the ball in his hands, and what sort of offensive repertoire we can expect from him next season.