Transcript after the jump.
First, let’s talk about the thing we all know he does best – slam it home. Derrick Favors was one of the most prolific dunkers in the NCAA last year. Over 20% of his field goals were dunks, more than anyone in the first 55 picks of the draft and 2nd-most overall. His dunks come in a variety of fashions. Oftentimes he slips under the defense below the block and gets an entry pass. He can also slam it off the pick and roll (which we’ll talk about later), off of well-timed offensive rebounds when teammates like Gani Lawal here try to force up shots, and most impressively to me, running out on the fast break. His athleticism is certainly on display here, as you see him run ahead of the dribbler, get the pass, and finish in motion. You can expect much of his offense to come on dunks like these next year and in the years to come.
Offensively, Favors has a lot of work to do. He lacks the requisite ball-handling skills to be able to take his man off the dribble like this, and when he struggles offensively he can float on defense, then leading to missed rebound opportunities. There’s no excuse for that. He can also look uncomfortable inside, forcing things and moving too quickly for his own good. You’ll see an example of that here. One of his biggest problems is that he doesn’t really appear to have any solid go-to post moves or counter-moves yet. Most of his post attempts are basic left and right hooks, and even those need a ton of work. His most notable issue is that he falls prey to a kind of “shot-put” shot – he’ll throw his arm towards the basket and try to force the ball in, rather than keep his arm straight and and his body parallel to the basket and allow the ball to roll off his fingertips. This is a basic element of being a successful offensive post player while playing against NBA-level interior defenses, and we’ll definitely see him struggle some when facing solid defenders early on in his career. After this play we’ll see the freeze-frames from these post plays. In all of these examples, you can see his body fading back and leaning backwards, and his arm shooting forward at the point of release. With the proper training, this can definitely be fixed, but don’t expect a lot of post wizardry from Derrick next year.
However, Derrick has got a great mentality on offense. In his pre-draft interview, he said about rebounding, “that’s the only way you can get your points most of the time. Sometimes guards don’t pass you the ball, they’re gonna miss you sometimes, but if you work hard and get the rebound that’s an automatic two points for you.” Favors has no problem working for these grunt points, whether it be off missed shots or loose balls, and he’s definitely comfortable working in and around the rim. He should also expect to get more good passes in a half-dozen games in the NBA than he ever got at Georgia Tech, but it’s also that constant mentality of keeping possession and working to do that on offense that will define him as a player – even if he’s the only one going for the ball in a sea of five opponents.
Derrick can and certainly will out-muscle smaller opponents in the post, as you’ll see here, but I expect most of his points this season to be of the garbage variety – tip-ins, put-backs, wide open passes at the basket, and the very occasional open fifteen-footer. He’ll also get some offense from his hook shots, but he’ll need a lot of work fundamentally to make that an effective weapon in his arsenal – if he can harness all his strength and athletic ability he can be deadly, but I wouldn’t expect it right away . However, I think one area he’ll be a pleasant surprise in is in the pick-and-roll. Despite Georgia Tech’s inability to run it effectively, Derrick always rolled well towards the basket and should get a number of alley-oops, easy buckets, and fouls drawn that way this season. If the Nets coaching staff can show him some moves in the post and work with him on making his jumper more consistent, he can combine that with his feel of the game to be a serious force in the years to come. Now it’s time for me to shut up so you can enjoy this last play.
I love it.
In Part 3, we’ll look at Derrick Favors’s defensive potential, and what sort of play we can expect from him on that side of the ball next season.