There are things everyone should know about Derrick Favors, the player — more than any other — seen as the key to the Jazz’s promising future. He’s been here a year, but it seems nobody knows anything about the young cornerstone, other than that he’s immensely talented and he doesn’t get enough time on the floor. Well … here are 10 more things:
1. He badly wants the extra minutes he’s not getting.
This was particularly frustrating for him at the beginning of the season, after he pronounced that he could be a 20-10 guy — if he got the time. But rarely have those major minutes been given him by Tyrone Corbin. The second-year forward is averaging 21 minutes a game, enough for 8.7 points and 6.5 rebounds. In eight April games, he’s gotten 25 minutes, scoring 9.6 points and hauling 9.4 boards.
The ceiling is much higher than that.
“At the beginning, because I have so much pride and confidence in my game, I was like, ‘I’m playing good, I should be playing more,’ ” he says. “I didn’t say nothing to anybody, but that’s the way I was feeling. I had to deal with it.”
Favors is still dealing with it, although his time, as mentioned, is slowly increasing.
“I know my opportunity’s going to come,” he says. “Everywhere I go, people tell me, ‘You should be playing 30 minutes.’ I tell them my situation — I’ve got to wait my turn. I’m playing behind two guys who could have been All-Stars this year. It’s not like they’re bums or something. I’ve got to learn, work hard, be patient.”
Says Corbin: “I’m trying to teach him how he can learn from watching and then go use his talents on the floor. He’s growing quite a bit — understanding how quick he is, how strong he is, how athletic he is, and how he can use all that against opponents.”
2. Favors has a fierce temper.
Some people mistakenly think, on account of the 20-year-old appearing quiet and withdrawn, that he is a big cat, lacking the fire necessary to compete at the highest level.
He calls BS on that, saying he is quiet around people he does not know, but he becomes much more animated in familiar environments. “I don’t just come out and say two words and that be it,” he says. “I crack jokes, do this and that. I might not be the most talkative person, but I’m not quiet.”
On the court, Favors says he’s about being strong, not timid:
“When I dunk or block a shot, I’m not going to be banging my chest and screaming, and all that. After a dunk, I run back and get on defense. The fire is there. … I’m not a showboating person. If you’re showboating, you’re weak. You don’t need to showboat. Just go out there and do the job. I just want to do my job and win games.
“People don’t know it, but I really have a quick temper. And my mom doesn’t like that. When I get mad, I can’t control myself. My grandma used to say, ‘You need to smile more, don’t look so mean.’ The slightest thing would make me mad. That’s why I talk to myself, to calm myself down. The fire is there.”
3. Favors grew up on the cruel streets of Atlanta.
From an early age, basketball came naturally to him, and he looked like he would have some kind of future in the game. That potential, along with the firm guidance of his mother, Deandra, put him on a safer path toward success and avoiding the traps of the difficult environs around him.
“It was a tough neighborhood,” he says. “My mom didn’t want me to get in trouble. She had a belt. She whipped me. She set me straight. She did a good job of that.” As time went by, he says he developed something within that has served him well: “common sense.”
The young Favors never knew his father.
4. Kobe Bryant was his favorite player.
“When I played video games, I was him,” Favors says.
5. He likes to eat — a lot.
As a kid, Favors consumed everything in sight. “I’d be hungry,” he says. “My mom used to say she couldn’t keep food in the house. I’d eat it all. She’d buy a bag of chips, and it would be gone that day. My sister didn’t like that. And my brother was the same way. I still eat anything that’s in the refrigerator, and anything my mom cooks.”
6. He never even imagined himself playing in the NBA until his junior year of high school.
“Before that, it was, like, ‘People don’t go to the NBA,’ ” he says. “But then, college recruiters and scouts started coming to watch me play. I started winning MVP awards. Accolades came. I was always more of a defensive-type player. I took pride in that.”
7. Favors turned pro after one year at Georgia Tech to fulfill dreams and fill his bank account.
“I decided to leave,” he says. “It was my dream to play in the NBA, and it was the money, too. That kind of chance doesn’t come around often. I wanted to help my family out. Not too many people get to be a top draft pick.”
8. Like a lot of accomplished athletes, he has a box-sized chip on his shoulder and uses that as motivation.
“I’ve got a lot of people to prove wrong,” he says. “They don’t think I deserve to be in this spot. They think I’m overrated, or whatever they say.”
Favors heard all that in high school, despite being ranked the No. 1 recruit in the country. He heard it at Georgia Tech. And after he was drafted by New Jersey with the third overall pick before last season, he felt disrespected by the Nets. His name was constantly connected to trade rumors, many of which swirled around Carmelo Anthony.
“I got tired of hearing, ‘Carmelo … Carmelo … Carmelo,’ ” he says. “I felt unwanted. They put me on the trade market as soon as I was drafted.”
9. He was happy to come to the Jazz.
Favors, quite candidly and remarkably, describes his move last season from New Jersey to Utah thusly: “They traded me for that guy who was here — I forget his name — and I’m happy to be in a place where they wanted me. They gave me a chance to go out and actually play.”
That guy was Deron Williams.
Now, Favors is at the center of the team’s long-range plans, despite Corbin’s somewhat stingy delegation of minutes for most of the season.
Devin Harris, who also came to the Jazz in that Williams deal, says Favors is barely tapping into the vast depths of his talent, but is doing so more proficiently here than in Jersey:
“It was kind of a whirlwind for him last year. Once he got here, he felt more comfortable. You can see how good he can be. He still doesn’t really know how to play the game. He’s just going off natural talent. Once he starts thinking the game, really understanding it, there will be no stopping him.”
10. Favors believes in his own potential, and he’s not alone.
Corbin, agreeing with Harris, says: “We should be able to go to him in the low post and know what we’re going to get from him. He’s a young guy. I know the new-generation guys don’t like to wait for anything, but we’ve got a great situation here where he can watch and learn. [But] he’ll exceed whatever potential anybody has for him. He’s going to work his way through it. He’s a tremendous talent, and he’s going to continue to get better.”
Favors says he gets it: “I’m a hard worker. I wake up early in the morning to work out. Hopefully, I’ll be an All-Star, I’ll be one of the top players in the league. That’s what I want to get to. For me, it’s realistic.”
GORDON MONSON hosts the “Gordon Monson Show” weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.