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Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, right, guards Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Why Derrick Favors might be the best player on the Jazz

To ask who is the best player on the Utah Jazz is such a subjective question. Is Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, or Rudy Gobert? Why him over the others? There are several schools of thought to consider. It should be recognized that Favors, Gobert, and Hayward all play different positions, have different skill sets, and play different roles for the Jazz. But when it comes to overall ability, who would reign supreme? According to the developers of NBA 2K17, it’s Favors.

The seventh-year big man scored an 85 overall, while Hayward and Gobert were rated at 84 and 81, respectively.

Which begs the question: Is Derrick Favors really the best player on the Jazz?

But why?

The case for Favors is made by examining what he does better than anyone else on the team, causing headaches for opposing defenders in the paint. His game is at its best when he is cutting hard to the rim off the pick and roll.

To be clear, Favors does not just roll to the basket; he STEAMROLLS his way to the hoop. Who would want to get between that man and the basket? Last season, Favors scored the third-most points in the NBA when cutting to the hole, according to the Stats page on NBA.com.

 

He is also a terrific option for driving teammates who are looking for a quick under-the-basket dish.  He has a way of disappearing below the basket, his hands up and ready to receive the pass, just in case his man slides over to handle the driving player, be it Hayward, Rodney Hood, or any other Jazzman.

In this specific aspect of the game, Favors is far superior to Gobert, who often has difficulties handling such passes. It also makes Favors such a terrific option in a late-game isolation set.

Such a play occurred in the 89-87 win in Houston on March 23rd.  With seven seconds left, Hood drove the lane off a pick by Hayward. He beat his man and had an open shot at the hoop. Dwight Howard slid to help—because he had to—leaving Favors open for the go-ahead basket with just 1.6 seconds remaining. Expect to see this type of play more often this year with “Iso” Joe Johnson doing his thing.

Although in the video game he scored a perfect A+ grade for his inside-offensive game, the most impressive part of Favors’ game might be his patience and timing, both offensively and defensively.

When he does need a moment to break his man down, Favors is developing into an elite post player. His bag of tricks includes a face-up, a drop-step, and a spin move that is downright lethal. More impressive than the move itself, is his patience after he completes it.

If the shot isn’t there, Favors waits until the exact moment that it is. According to NBA Miner.com, Favors had his shot blocked 63 times in 62 games last season, barely over half as many times as Demarcus Cousins (considered the top player at their shared position) got swatted. Cousins got rejected 118 times in 65 games.

The same remarkable timing that puts points on the board for the Jazz also keeps points off the board for opposing teams. Time and time again we see such timing manifested in the form of crowd-pleasing blocks and steals.

In the 62 games that Favors played, he averaged a combined 2.7 blocks and steals per game. That’s more disruptive than Michael Scott on any given workday at Dunder Mifflin. Coach Quin Snyder has said again that Favors is his best communicator defensively, and the results speak for themselves, both in Favors-alone and in the team as a whole.

For all the good reasons that Favors is deserving of his top-overall rating on the virtual Jazz, there are some flaws and harsh realities that would statistically indicate otherwise. Most damning is this: with Favors on the floor, the Jazz’s net rating is 0.9 points worse than when he is off.

It’s not much, and the team is still a positive +1.1 with Favors on the hardwood, but it still is hard to rationalize. The numbers don’t lie; the Jazz were a little better with Favors off the floor.

Clearly, there may be some solid reasoning behind Favors’ top rating in NBA 2K17. Yet, video game ratings, as should all ratings, must be taken with a grain of salt.

Favors’ rating, as well as the rating of his teammates, will increase or decrease as the team progresses through the ebb and flow of the season. As the adage goes, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts.” The same will apply to Favors’ performance in the virtual and real world.

Why Derrick Favors might be the best player on the Jazz

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