BREAKING NEWS: Derrick Favors Is Still Very, Very Young

Derrick Favors is going to be great. Let’s let him get there.

So after a few poor games from the third overall draft pick, I’m worried that a lot of Nets fans and followers believe the Nets made a mistake. I can see you now, running to grab the pitchforks, screaming at the Nets front office, crying for a re-do, and burning down the Rock. After today’s stinker – 0-5 from the field, no blocks, only five rebounds – it’s understandable that folks could be feeling concerned about the selection. It doesn’t make the wounds any less salty when you realize that the other guy the Nets might have selected, fifth overall pick DeMarcus Cousins, is killing it over in Sactown – averaging 17 points and 9.5 rebounds in his first four preseason games. Of the top picks, Favors is certainly struggling the most.

It doesn’t surprise me that people are second-guessing taking Derrick. But I’m not. Not at all.

Want to know why? Because this barely matters.

Firstly, it’s preseason. It’s called preseason because, quite literally, it’s “before the season” – I.E. before a single actual game is played. This is the point when players are experimenting with different looks – Favors, for instance, took three jumpers – certainly not his forte right now. The Nets are playing in Beijing, China – way out of their time zone – and the rotations are (understandably) completely out of whack. I’m having memories of Sean Williams getting rave reviews from every player in the Nets organization in preseason these last couple of years.  Every year something surprising happens in preseason, and every year it ultimately means next to nothing.

Secondly, he’s had three bad games. Three bad preseason games. It’s his first taste of NBA competition. It’s easy to forget that Derrick Favors is coming into this league having turned nineteen only three months ago this Friday. He’s the youngest player in the NBA right now. He’s going to have an adjustment period. While I still think he’s going to be better than expected right out of the gate, there’s no doubt he’s going to face some bumps in the road. Some of those bumps may scare us. Some of them may terrify us. Some of them may make Nets fans scream for Carmelo Anthony at all costs. To which I reply: give it time.

I understand it can be frustrating. Telling a basketball observer to wait a year or two before the player he’s watching on the court could really be a star is akin to telling a kindergartner to wait two years for those two marshmallows. It’s in the genes to think in the here and now. Part of what makes it frustrating is that Derrick so obviously has every tool to be great – the guy has once-in-a-generation athletic skills for a guy his size and he might as well trademark the phrase “hard work.” (Seriously, he should attend practices in a construction hat. The guy is that determined. At least, determined to say it in every interview he’s ever had.) Despite having every right to be obsessively cocky, his demeanor is so unassuming –  he merely knows there’s a formula to being a great player, and he’s executing it. It’s just going to take a few years before his potential is realized. The Nets knew that going in, and a bad game here or there shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s just part of the learning process.

Frankly, there’s a very good chance that after his first 39 games of his career he’ll have a statline of 6.3 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, and 40.6% shooting from the field. Are you scared? You shouldn’t be. that’s the statline some guy named Kevin Garnett put up in his first 39. He hit a LOT of bumps in the road – see for yourself. I’d say he turned out pretty well.

So please. I implore you. Be patient. There’s a good chance that Derrick isn’t going to blow the lid off the NBA in the first half of the season. There’s a good chance he won’t blow the lid off the NBA the entire season. Or two seasons. This is common knowledge at this point. So before we go overrating a few early preseason games, one of them played in China at 8 A.M. EST (I.E. really early), let’s remember that this kid has a lot – a lot – of room left to grow.