Derrick Favors. What to make of him so far? To an untrained eye like mine, he’s a kid with mad athletics skills trying to make his way as a freshman in the ACC, going against the toughest competition he’s faced yet and making some headway.
But hey, how boring does all that sound? Snooze.
So let me share with you parts of an interview I did with a guy who knows a lot better than me! And he’s someone I enjoy listening to, to begin with. Thought you might too: Len Elmore.
Elmore called Tech’s last two games against Clemson and North Carolina for ESPN and saw the extremes of Favors’ game – foul trouble, a non-existent presence, really, against the Tar Heels, then 17 points, including some great finishes on the fast break vs. Clemson.) He’s also watched Favors multiple times on TV.
Elmore thinks Favors has unlimited potential and he likes what he’s heard about the way Favors carries himself off the court. That said, we asked him for his expertise looking through a critical eye. So here’s Elmore breaking down different aspects of Favors’ game:
Footwork: “It’s real difficult for young big men to master the footwork of the position, be it power forward or center, in Favors’ case probably power forward. Not so much facing the basket, but with your back to the basket, to develop a go-to move. But it is about footwork and getting yourself open. When I’ve watched him play, it might have been the Duke game, he had a lot of trouble getting his footwork together, turning it over with travels, other things. That’s all work. That’s all constant competition.”
Strength: “His strength seems to be a natural strength. It doesn’t look like it’s a weight room strength yet. I think the combination could make him someone really tough to reckon with, once he gets in a routine in the weight room. There are guys equally as strong as he is out there, and it’s more that brute strength you have to employ to be successful.”
Foul trouble: “(Clemson game) was a great example, I think he blocked two consecutive shots, and on the third one, (he picked up a foul.) All it was was a pump fake, but he wanted to get that third consecutive block. A lot of big men will understand, you’ve already intimidated him once or twice, and when a guy head fakes like that, obviously they’re going to look to try to throw one up there, but he fell for the fake and went up in the air. That’s natural. That’s understandable. In high school it probably came very easily. It’s a question of gaining experience.”
1-on-1 defense: “Like most big guys, he has a tendency to stand straight up and try to guard. He has good instincts from a shot blocking standpoint to come over and help and be an intimidator. But when it comes to 1-on-1, even when guys get the ball in the post and are about to make a move, you have to understand, you still have to bend your knees. You still have to be able to maximize your lateral quickness to match the quickness of the ball handler. You have to bend your knees, and then you can straighten out, you can lengthen when the shot is about to be taken.”
Facing up, Favors’ jump shot: “Gani Lawal is a perfect example. When he came in as a freshman, could he face the basket? Could he shoot that 12 footer? But look at him now. It’s about repetition. It’s about understanding that element of the game. It’s muscle memory. You have to do it over and over again.”
Coachability: “I think the most important thing is he appears to be a solid individual. He’s not so totally in love with himself and his skills that he can’t work to get better.”
And some food for thought:
Elmore makes no bones about being old school when it comes to whether guys leave early for the NBA. He thinks players shouldn’t be allowed to be drafted into the NBA until after their junior year of college. He has a lot to say about that, but I picked out one point he made that was interesting.
If I were him, I’d use it when people say “Well, what about the money?” His point is that the second NBA contract is where the real money is and staying in college makes that second NBA contract more lucrative.
Here’s how he put it:
“What happens is guys come in unprepared and yeah, they’ll play out their contracts because the money is guaranteed but after that…,” said Elmore, voice trailing off. “The big contract is your second deal, not your first. Guys lose sight of that and the fact that if you’re prepared properly you will not only succeed during your first contract, you will put yourself in a position to sign a bigger contract the second time around. But most of the people who are in the ears of these young men don’t care about the second contract. They have a hand in their pocket, some way or another. And all they care about is the instant gratification and that’s what’s being pushed here.”