Devin already took a fantastic look at the whole “Derrick Favors vs. DeMarcus Cousins” draft situation, but I thought I would look at who I want to see the Nets draft (if Evan Turner doesn’t drop to our pick). In my opinion, playing Power Forward alongside Brook Lopez requires a specific skill-set. Because Brook is good at excels both in the post and out on the high post, he needs a power forward who can be able to do both as well. This way, when Brook is on the outside with the basketball his big-man alongside of him can work in the post, and vice-versa. Despite being very raw, when watching the tape, you can tell that Derrick Favors has this skill-set, and this is why I want to see the Nets draft Favors with the third overall pick.
Working The Middle Post
When you play with a big man like Brook Lopez, who is a very good passer, you open up a variety of offensive sets that most teams are unable to do. Something I fully expect to see the Nets take advantage of next year is the high-low set. Brook’s versatility means he can work from the low post or the high post. This means the power forward that he plays with needs to be able to do the same. So when Brook Lopez gets the ball on the high post, the power forward he plays with needs to be able to know how to properly seal and make himself available for the past from the high post area:
Here, Derrick Favors’ teammate makes the catch at the high post and has that happens, Favors very smoothly puts his defender on his backside and seals, creating a terrific passing lane for the basketball. Favors doesn’t get the ball thrown to him, and instead his teammate takes the shot. That’s ok, because Favors takes that great seal and turns it into a great boxout. He doesn’t get the rebound due to a long rebound, but man that is a great boxout.
This is another important skill needed when you play with Brook Lopez. As we have discussed at length, Brook tends to settle for outside jumpers. This past season, there was nobody down low to work the offensive boards when this happens. If you get Derrick Favors working down low when a Brook Lopez shot goes up, he is right there to work for the offensive board.
Working The High Post
Brook Lopez doesn’t exclusively work out of the high post, and he spends a good amount of time on the low block. This means the power forward who plays with him needs to be able to work the high post. Again, Derrick Favors looks comfortable in this situation:
Here, Georgia Tech runs a low-high play where they get the ball into the post and then kick it out to Derrick Favors. Favors makes the catch and looks entirely comfortable taking one dribble and then kicking it out to the wide open shooter along the sideline when the defense gets sucked in. Other options Favors has here is taking the jumper or drive the basket. Both of which he seems comfortable doing.
Pick And Roll Defense
Now this isn’t a requirement specifically for playing along side Brook Lopez, but in my opinion with the growing popularity of the PNR being used with a point guard and a power forward, defending the pick and roll is an important skill for a power forward. Again, Derrick Favors grades out well when you watch the game tape:
Here, Favors man gets the ball to Nolan Smith in part of a dribble hand-off. Favors comes out and cuts off Smith’s path to the basket and then he quickly recovers to his man.
In the second video, you see a true pick and roll rather than a dribble handoff. He shows hard, preventing the ball handler from getting into the lane, in fact, he even forces him to pick up his dribble. Once the ball handler picks up his dribble Favors quickly returns to his man. A subtle thing that Favors does here is put his hands up as he returns to his man. Using his exceptional length Favors is able to shut down any passing lane to the man he is returning to. To close out the play, Favors again gets a solid box out on his man, allowing for his team to secure the rebound.
Work & IQ
If you were to think of one word that has been associated with Derrick Favors so far, that word would be “raw.” That is all you hear from some scouts and draft experts. While he might be raw when it comes to basketball skills (his shooting ability for example), there are two things that catch your eye when you watch Favors play.
The first is his work ethic on the basketball court. Georgia Tech’s offense was very helter skelter during this past season, and that is putting it nicely. There would be series of five to ten straight possessions where Derrick Favors wouldn’t even get a touch. Despite all of that, every time down the court, Favors would get to his spot on the court and post up, just as hard and strong as the last time (even though he didn’t get the basketball).
The second thing you notice is Favors’ basketball IQ. Despite being “raw,” Favors seems to know what he is doing with the basketball. In the four or five games I was able to see, Derrick Favors never looked flustered. He was comfortable with the basketball and always knew where he wanted to go with it. He also does the little things. We already talked about Favors putting his hands up when retreating to his man, but he also runs the floor very well, knows how to properly space out the court, and instinctively chins the basketball when grabbing a rebound, getting those elbows out and preventing defenders from reaching in and stealing it.
In the end, this is why I think Derrick Favors is the man the Nets need to draft. DeMarcus Cousins is going to be a very good basketball player, I just don’t think he has the skills that Derrick Favors has when working out of the high post. This is going to be a very important aspect of the game of whoever plays alongside of him. We have an All-Star quality center in Brook Lopez, and it would be silly to pair him with someone who doesn’t fit his game.