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Video Playbook: Refining Favors

US Presswire

US Presswire


 
Looking at his season-long numbers, it might appear that third-year forward Derrick Favors has stagnated offensively. His Usage Rate, eFG%, TO% and ORB% are all roughly the same as last year. He hasn’t made much of a difference in the rate at which he gets to the line and his per-36 minute scoring average is identical to last season’s. However, camouflaged in those numbers are significant improvements to the quality of his offensive skill set, particularly with regards to his post up game. The stats below all come courtesy of mySynergySports.

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Although it’s not reflected in his overall numbers, this specific subset of offensive statistics shows how far he’s come. Favors now scores at an above average rate on post-ups, a full tenth of a point per possession better than last season. He’s increased his FG%, and the rate at which he draws fouls, all while cutting his turnovers considerably. When we look at video we can see a player refining his skill set and starting to polish his potential. Watching Favors work in the post this season we can see specific improvement in a few key areas:

Jumphook

The first post move any young, raw big man works on is the jumphook. Favors has the length and touch to make this a devastating weapon, but the key is being able to set it up and get himself in a position to use it. Getting consistent, deep position is still on his to-do list, but Favors has displayed a wealth of patience this year; catching the ball on the block, recognizing where the help will come from, and calmly backing down his man to a point where he can pivot into the lane and shoot.

Occasionally, he works from the right block and uses the same move going baseline. At some point being able to make this shot with either hand will be key, but the point to which it’s already become a consistent weapon this season is promising.

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Jumpshooting

With an offensive game predicated on length and athleticism, jump-shooting was, predictably, a weakness for Favors in his first two seasons. Last year he shot just 27.1% on shots in the 10-16ft. range. As you can see from his Basketball-Reference heat map, almost all of his scoring came from within an arm’s length of the basket.

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It hasn’t been a drastic difference this season, but there are a few subtle changes. I added some arrows to this season’s heat map, highlighting the spots where he has begun to extend his range.

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As you can see he’s become much more effective on shots around the free throw line and from just beyond the right-block. Those hot spots are the result of a much more confident and smooth looking jumper. He’s looked very comfortable this season facing up, jab-stepping to move his man back and knocking down the shot in rhythm. This season he’s making 36.2% of his shots in the 10-16ft. range. Again, his length is a tremendous asset here, making a properly spaced jumper nearly unblockable. Most of his made jumpers are of the face-up variety but he’s beginning to use a tantalizing turnaround as well. Here are a few examples:

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Footwork

Favors has the benefit of practicing everyday, with and against, one of the most polished post scorers in the league, Al Jefferson. As I watched video of Favors’ post-up possessions this season, I was amazed at how improved his footwork is, an improvement you can see Jefferson’s fingerprints all over. If you watched much of Favors at Georgia Tech, or as a rookie with Nets, it’s difficult to believe this is the same player. He looks Olajuwon-esque in his ability to face-up, and utilize multiple spin moves to create openings for himself around the basket. These are big-time post moves, the kind of thing GMs fantasize about when they look at players like Favors or Nerlens Noel, allowing their minds to wander into the future.

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With Favors, Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter, the Jazz have had an embarrassing wealth of frontcourt talent to play with the past two seasons. Although, one or both of Jefferson and Millsap will likely be moving on this summer, the Jazz can feel comfortable knowing that they have offensive production, not just offensive potential, ready to be plugged into those impending frontcourt holes.

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