Derrick Favors: He’ll be better in the NBA than at Tech

Yeah, he can play above the rim. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Yeah, he plays above the rim. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Derrick Favors was named the ACC’s rookie of the year Tuesday. The shock would have been if he hadn’t been named the ACC’s rookie of the year. He’s a big-time talent who has had big-time moments and a few big-time games.

But if you’re thinking that might not be enough for Favors next season, when he’ll surely be working in the NBA, think again. Because this one collegiate season has been a red herring. We’ve gotten to see a lot of what Favors can’t yet do. Soon we’ll see what he can do.

Some will interpret this as a swipe at Favors’ college coach. It really isn’t. Favors happened to sign with a school that  had an approximation of Derrick Favors. Had Gani Lawal remained in the 2009 NBA draft — he withdrew his name before the deadline — we’d be seeing Favors through different eyes. We’d see him as a guy who plays with his back to the basket and overmatches defenders, as opposed to a guy who stands in the foul circle and tries to figure out what next to do.

Favors scored 18 points against Virginia Tech on Saturday; he took seven shots. He and Lawal have had to share the ball in the post, and there hasn’t been much to share. Three Tech guards have played the point on a collegiate level, but not one is a real distributor. It’s human nature for big men to grow frustrated when they don’t see the ball, and Favors and Lawal are human.

The way to defuse a college big man (or big men) is to zone it up. Zones are allowed in the NBA, but no team plays one as its base defense. For those who believe Favors will struggle at power forward in the league, where he’ll be asked do to more of what he hasn’t done all that well as a Jacket, remember this: The NBA is predicated on matchups. Even at age 19 — he’s 18 as we speak — Favors will be a load for any opponent.

Stand next to Favors and Lawal and you’ll see why the former is the more promising professional. Lawal has grown bigger and stronger in his three seasons as a collegian, but Favors was big and strong when he walked in the door. You see Lawal and you think, “He’s tall.” You see Favors and you think, “He’s big.”

Some of you have suggested Favors should return to school because he hasn’t had a huge statistical season — he has averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds, numbers that pale alongside those posted by fellow freshman big man DeMarcus Cousins — but the NBA doesn’t draft on college production. It drafts on body type and potential, and Favors has both.

(Speaking of the Kentucky big man: The difference between Favors and Cousins as freshmen is that Big Cuz, as he’s known, is playing the position he did in high school, and Big Cuz has a little cuz in the great point guard John Wall. Favors wasn’t as lucky on either front.)

There have been times this year when I’ve wondered, “Is Favors another Tyrus Thomas?” The freshman star of the 2006 NCAA tournament for LSU, Thomas was drafted fourth overall by Chicago that summer and has since done nothing of consequence. Last month the exasperated Bulls traded him to Charlotte. But the harder I look, I see more differences than similarities.

Favors is stronger than Thomas and more skilled. Thomas couldn’t do much except run and dunk in college. Favors can handle the ball better and shoot it with more assurance. If he lands with the right NBA team — and not every team is the right team — he could become, as NBAdraft.net suggests, a tantalizing amalgam of Josh Smith and Al Horford.

My one question about Favors is temperament. He doesn’t follow basketball very closely — he admitted Tuesday he has never viewed an ACC tournament game — and he’s a lower-key than you’d like if you’re an NBA team looking to invest a few million.

But pro careers aren’t made on draft night; they’re made by guys who get drafted and take it from there. Karl Malone was picked 13th overall and became a Hall of Famer. Tyrus Thomas, drafted nine spots higher 21 years later, doesn’t start for the Bobcats. What has happened, and hasn’t happened, this season at Tech wasn’t all Derrick Favors’ doing. What happens, or doesn’t happen, in the NBA will be entirely on him.

80 comments Add your comment

Favors Rules!

March 10th, 2010
4:12 am

Favors will be making millions in the NBA soon, with real coaching and supporting talent. At Tech, he’s wasted.

Antoine

March 10th, 2010
4:13 am

Antoine

March 10th, 2010
4:13 am

Conyers Tech Fan

March 10th, 2010
4:34 am

Mark: I agree with what you say about Favors. Also, I have a question:
If you are a collegiate coach (anywhere) would you draft one and done
caliber players like Favors or lesser talented players likely to stay
in college for at least two or more years?

BrokeBackJacket

March 10th, 2010
4:39 am

Favors is the real deal..seems to be a great kid..great attitude…amd smart, other than the moment of insanity when he choose to waste a year of his life at GT!

John

March 10th, 2010
5:24 am

Oh great…another one and done for Ga Tech hoops. So sad that the NBA has just about ruined college hoops by allowing the players to come out so young. At least the NFL makes them wait until after their junior year.

lanier

March 10th, 2010
6:09 am

why did PH sign a one and done when he already had a NBA ready player with the same game responsibility? that seems stupid

TheNumber34

March 10th, 2010
6:18 am

Conyers Tech Fan….of course Bradley, if he were a college coach, would sign one-and-done players. The coach of the college of his choice signed two of the best that money can buy, and Kentucky paid a lot of dough for them. Fortunately for Calipari, as Bradley mentions, the two best freshmen in the SEC had a good dynamic as opposed to Lawal and Favors.

Ozzy

March 10th, 2010
6:39 am

When he signs his contract with the NBA team, can he kick in a couple of mil towards the “Fire Phew” fund?

We knew he’d be one and done. Can’t blame him. Best of luck to him.

UGA75

March 10th, 2010
6:56 am

I sort of agree MB, but I think all he could do by coming back is improve where he’d be drafted next year. Like you pointed out, he’ll be 19, what do we know about kids of 19 being given millions of dollars? Human nature being what it is they tend to go a lot wild, remember he still can’t legally drink anywhere in the US. If he stayed in college one more year and matured a little he’d be better off, if he matures a lot, his life becomes really easy, and he will make so much money the little he gives up this one year won’t ever matter.

I mentioned human nature though, so it is likely that top ten money will make him enter the draft. I just hope he has people around him that will watch out for him, and not just see what they can get from him.

Cracker Jacket

March 10th, 2010
7:02 am

How is anyone going to improve at Tech except by watching the opposing team’s coaching! Tech is a young superstar graveyard!

A Different Opinion

March 10th, 2010
7:29 am

You know, Mark…..it’s people like you who are the problem with athletes being one and done. They read this crap.

Ozzy

March 10th, 2010
7:32 am

Pretty sure Favor’s couldn’t give a flying flip what Mark Bradley thinks or writes.

JJ

March 10th, 2010
7:36 am

I hate the “one and done” rule. I wish the NBA would adopt a similar system as in place for baseball. Allow HS grads to enter the draft and, if drafted, they can go to the league if they choose to. Otherwise, they go to college and are not eligible for the draft again until their junior year. That way, you rid college of the OJ Mayo types that really couldn’t care less about an education and allow college teams to develop some continuity.

btgt69

March 10th, 2010
7:37 am

Mark, this is ” really a swipe at his college coach”. You said it by denying it. Thanks for being on a “witch hunt”. I have absolutely no faith in your articles anymore. Maybe you should resign.

VT Yellow Jacket

March 10th, 2010
7:37 am

I’d make the jump to the NBA if I were him. Of course, I’m 5′10″, so I doubt the opportunity will come along to me, but you know what I mean.

Tear it up in the ACC tourney, Derrick. Good luck getting to the NCAA.

Douglas

March 10th, 2010
7:40 am

Why did Hewitt sign a one and done? Because he is desperate to save his job. UGA fans hope he stays there forever…we just hope the talent comes to UGA instead of GT where we have a real coach who can actually coach. Hewitt: the Chan Gailey of GT basketball. Hewitt: the gift that just keeps on giving.

JD

March 10th, 2010
7:45 am

Derrick Favors is the TRUTH. Even though I was hoping he would attend Carolina, I enjoy watching this young man play basketball. The skill set of his game is remarkable for a guy his age, size, and maturity level. He will someday soon be the leader of his NBA team on the court and in the locker room. Good luck Derrick on the rest of your season and beyond.

ramblingbuzz

March 10th, 2010
7:48 am

For GT BB, just another case where the talent of the individual players is much greater that the talent of the team as a whole. Inquiring minds want to know why GT hasn’t had a take-charge point guard since 2005. Could it be they’re really hard to find or CPH just hasn’t been looking for one? What used to be point guard U is now point guard phew!!

Jeckyll Island

March 10th, 2010
7:54 am

The Dawgs were not that impressed by favors.
73-66!!!
73-66!!!
73-66!!!
73-66!!!
73-66!!!
73-66!!!

30-24!!!
30-24!!!
30-24!!!
30-24!!!
30-24!!!
30-24!!!

Jim 70

March 10th, 2010
7:55 am

Calipari signs one-and-dones and his teams have performed on the court – not so much elsewhere, but that is another story.

Thaddius Young, Chris Bosh and Derrick Favors all have a better NBA game than college, as opposed to Reddick/Hansbrough/etc, much better college players than pro. The NBA drafts on ability, why else would a player such as Derrick who doesn’t even make the third team ACC get drafted in the top 4or 5?

I have see no problem in PH signing a one-and-done, but GT needs to find a coach who can get them to perform while playing at the NCAA level, especially when they are very very good at the NBA level.

Hate to see Derrick leave GT, but for his future he should go. BEST OF LUCK.

Jaded Jacket

March 10th, 2010
7:58 am

Mark Bradley
Derrick Favors: He’ll be better in the NBA than at Tech – This is true of all players that play for Hewitt

Jacket94

March 10th, 2010
8:08 am

Mr. Favors is not ready for basketball to become a job and not just a game. It is cannot be debated that this is not a very mature kid and it is apparent in the way he carries himself on the court. His lack of enthusiasm and passion for the game is evident. Outside of Maryland, in every game he was going through the motions and could care less about winning or losing. That approach will result in Kwame Brown comparisons, not Tyrus Thomas. His potential is off the charts, but if you don’t love what you do, it will be a short ride.

Paul in RDU

March 10th, 2010
8:08 am

Mark – I absolutely agree with everything you’ve written. Favors will be a lottery pick and certainly has the size and athletic ability to become a star in the NBA. How far he goes is up to him and how hard he works. The great ones like Malone, Jordan, Magic, etc. all worked on their games and improved when they were in the league.
BTW – Caulton Tudor has an interesting article on the ACC Tourney in today’s Raleigh N&O. No prizes for guessing who he thinks is under the most pressure this week or who he thinks had a fluke final four run a few years ago.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/03/10/379797/let-the-tournament-sideshow-begin.html

Ozzy

March 10th, 2010
8:08 am

Douglas-

Let’s not forget you guys finished 5-11, 13-16, including a loss to 2-14 LSU to cap off your season. I think that’s one win better than last year.

Let’s not annoint Fox as the second coming just yet. He’s closer to Felton/Harrick than he is Coach K, Roy Williams, Bill Self.

And yeah, I know you guys beat us, the home team has won every game in the series except one since you guys whussed out of playing at the Omni. True, I’d rather have Fox than Hewitt, but you guys need to calm down, you’re just not all that. UOG owns GT in football no doubt, but you have a long row to hoe in basketball, especially if Thompkins bolts to the NBA.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
8:10 am

Mark,

The one knock on CPH is that his teams have not done better with the players he has had.

Anthony Morrow, Chris Bosh, Thaddeus Young, Javaris Crittenton, Jarrett Jack, just to name a few.

I am concerned about Favors and his temperament though. I remember Marvin Williams was drafted based on his body and potential, and that has not worked out for the Hawks. Marvin also said something along the lines of he doesnt watch much basketball.

I dont like to hear that

Eastside Jacket

March 10th, 2010
8:13 am

Some of my fellow Tech fans look through their gold colored glasses and think Favors should stay another year. I see a huge, talented young man with tons of upside. I think he’ll be a great pro and should go ahead and start collecting his millions.

Herschel Talker

March 10th, 2010
8:13 am

If he had gone to UGA, he would have been better at UGA than in the NBA.

Mark Fox > Paul Hewitt

GT

March 10th, 2010
8:17 am

Can you only imagine how bad this team is next year. It is last year’s team without Lawal, the team that looked like it was going to lose every ACC game until garbage time saved them at the end. I was trying to figure out the worst foul shooting team in Tech history but never followed through. My father played in ‘36 and he claims there would be games a foul shot was never missed. Those point guards of Cremins plus guys like Scott never missed foul shots, Price broke the NBA record. I have got to believe this group last year, which is a little better this year ,has the record. I am going to research and get back with you. I do know that Va Tech game at home was lost at the charity stripe as were several in the last two years. Let’s see, Lawal spouts, he gets the ball over Favors, he turns to shoot and gets fouled, he misses both free throws. I think he would be sitting on a lot of good coaches bench until he figure out how to make a simple foul shot and Favors would be getting a lot more playing time. I also would position Favors so he would not be fouling so much himself on defense. When Hewitt does that dipsy doodle substitution of his I might let Lawal play defense and Favors offense. But you have to have control of your players to get away with that.

GT Fan...

March 10th, 2010
8:18 am

If there was ever a “no duh” article heading, MB this one is definitely it. Heck, all one has to do is look at Anthony Morrow with Golden State.

I’ve never been as flabbergasted at how bad of a coach Hewitt is knowing he’s got/had so much talent to work with than with this season. The ACC is soooo weak this year, and with arguably his most talented team, PH coaches the team to a 7-9 conf record. Nice.

GT Fan

March 10th, 2010
8:24 am

Hewitts a joke !

GT Fan

March 10th, 2010
8:25 am

Sorry, a $7 Million joke .

RomeDawg

March 10th, 2010
8:34 am

What he could he be doing in Athens? I am certain he has asked himself this same question a million times.

Angus

March 10th, 2010
8:37 am

You just wish (well, I do at least) that guys like Favors and Josh Smith could get some more quality playing time and instruction before the NBA.

A few hit the ground running – Kobe, Lebron, maybe even Bosh – but for the most part, it’s an ugly first couple of years and it’s bad for both NCAABB and the NBA. It’d be awesome to get these guys in school another year or two.

If ifs and buts……

Tech82

March 10th, 2010
8:39 am

btgt69 – I don’t see where MB is taking any sort of a swipe at Paul Hewitt although I’m sure Hewitt will think so. Even if this was intended to be a swipe at Hewitt, so what. Hewitt deserves it. He’s spent ten years recruiting NBA-caliber talent at Tech and produced only one winning season in the ACC. If that doesn’t define an overpaid, underachieving, loser of a coach I don’t know what does.

Tech82

March 10th, 2010
8:41 am

What would he be doing in Athens? I imagine he would be getting bailed out of jail like the other scholarship athletes at UGA.

Herschel Talker

March 10th, 2010
8:44 am

Mark Fox > Paul Hewitt

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves

aztec

March 10th, 2010
8:47 am

tech82 we have had our share of bailouts too…i heard hewitt interviewed on local news last night and he hopes if his teams wins 1 game in acc tourney that will get them in..my question is why would he not say his teams is going to greensboro too win the tournament and then go on to say they want too win the natl championship…i think all good coaches would say that in an interview

Goldtimer

March 10th, 2010
8:59 am

Wow Mark Fox wins a few games at home and the Mutt masses are ready to proclaim him the next Tubby. Not saying that Paul Hewitt is good by any stretch but the Mutt fans are being too quick to proclaim his greatness.

StingerSplash

March 10th, 2010
9:00 am

But I thought Coach Hewitt — according to well-placed sources — did a great job of getting his players ready for the NBA. So if — and this isn’t much of an if — Favors succeeds, how much credit does Hewitt get or not get?

Herschel Talker

March 10th, 2010
9:03 am

Goldtimer – you’re a clown. If you can’t see that Fox is better than Hewitt, than you’re a fool. Whether or not he is the next Tubby indeed remains to be seen. But what does not remain to be seen is his stock vis a vis Bozo Hewitt

Technophobia

March 10th, 2010
9:03 am

The real question is whether Bradley is an insomniac. This makes two blogs in a row posted at just after 4 AM.

todd grantham

March 10th, 2010
9:06 am

Mark, pulling another all-nighter?

Monticello Dawg

March 10th, 2010
9:16 am

Tech82, not very nice to slam Favor’s character. I am a Georgia fan, but would not run down a teenager like you did in that post, though I hope you did it in jest.

Ozzy, your mentioned Felton/Harrick as one package. One could flat out coach, the other couldn’t. Unfortunately, Harrick ruined his own career with his indiscretions.

[...] he plays above the rim. Go here to see the original:Derrick Favors: He'll be better in the NBA than at Tech Maria's Personalities.+. by …. … personality disorder. … which personality are you. [...]

Jacket Backer

March 10th, 2010
9:22 am

what would he be doing in athens??…. i’m sure that has never crossed his mind…he might be wondering what he would be doing in chapel hill…..

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
9:25 am

Assuming Lawal and Favors are gone after this season, I think it is safe to assume that GT will take a step back next year.

And based on their record next year, we will probably be talking about firing CPH again. But the problem will be his $7 mil buyout.

And whether he is fired in 2010 or 2012 or 2014, he will still be owed $7 mil. I understand budget cuts, but how long will we continue to be held hostage by his rollover contract and lack of results on the court?

Tailback U

March 10th, 2010
9:28 am

All that I hear and read seem to make his leaving a foregone
conclusion. What has the kid said that makes this so ? I
have missed it. Or is it more that Tech has become the
place where guys go to pass through ( of course I am aware
of past early defections ) ? Unless I misread you you seem
to be suggesting leaving early would be his best course.
What is the early word from former or current NBA insiders on
how well this kid is likely to translate to the NBA ?
Be curious to know whether your assertions are shared by
the guys who have been paid to make such calls.
As was stated by a someone who posted earlier I hope the
guy gets advice bt someone who is both savy and is truly
looking out for his best interest.

PMC

March 10th, 2010
9:30 am

Boy the headline writers really went out on a limb with that one…….

PMC

March 10th, 2010
9:34 am

Maybe Will Bynum or Travis Best will walk through that door Thursday night… a man can dream right?