When Derrick Favors arrived in Utah, he was a teenage NBA rookie who had just been traded by a team which repeatedly reassured him that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Favors was confused, bewildered and a little disillusioned after being the centerpiece — at least from the Jazz’s perspective — in the blockbuster trade that sent All-Star Deron Williams to New Jersey.
Coach Tyrone Corbin remembers when the quiet, stone-faced Favors joined the Jazz in 2011.
“Scared,” Corbin said. “He was a scared 19-year-old ... that was surprised he got traded and didn’t know what to think of it, what to think of us or where to go next.”
Told of Corbin’s description before Monday morning’s practice, Favors smiled.
“I wasn’t scared,” he said. “I would say I was just mentally exhausted from the whole thing. Everything I went through in New Jersey and then I was traded here, I was just mentally exhausted.”
When he got the chance, Favors played well for his new team. In 22 games, including four starts, he averaged 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. But mostly, he longed for the chance to put his first season of professional basketball in the rearview mirror.
“It was tough,” Favors said. “... I was just ready for it to be over.”
When he returned to Utah for the 2011-12 season, Favors “started feeling more comfortable because I knew there weren’t going to be any trade rumors. I knew I was going to be here.”
Favors played well, but Corbin continued to bring him along slowly. He made nine starts in 65 games during the lockout-shortened season.
This year, Favors continued to come off the bench as part of Corbin’s big-man rotation that also included Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter, another developing youngster.
Still, Favors averaged only 22 minutes a game — at least until March 27.
In the second quarter of a game against Phoenix, Kanter was likely lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder.
Favors seized the moment.
In the next six games, he averaged 12.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 27 minutes.
In Sunday night’s 97-90 win at Golden State, Favors finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes. His blocked shot with 40 seconds left helped preserve the critical victory.
“He’s grown all year,” said teammate Mo Williams. “He’s getting to the point where he’s turning the corner. ... He’s doing great things for us down the stretch.”
Corbin agrees: “One huge thing is the defensive presence he creates — the plays he makes on the defensive end when you don’t think there’s a play to be made.”
Offensively, Favors’ game continues to expand. He has made 30 of 51 shots since Kanter’s injury.
“I think he’s happy to be here,” Corbin said. “He understands his role and what it will take to continue to get better.
“... He’s just more relaxed and comfortable now because he feels wanted here. He has a big role in how good or bad we do.”
Derrick Favors’ numbers in the last six games:
Opponent Minutes FGs Points Rebs. Assists Results
vs. Golden State 29 5-9 12 13 3 Won, 97-90
vs. New Orleans 27 5-8 10 10 6 Won, 95-83
vs. Denver 28 3-8 8 6 1 Lost, 113-96
vs. Portland 28 6-7 18 7 0 Won, 112-102
vs. Brooklyn 23 6-10 13 9 0 Won, 116-107
vs. Portland 27 6-8 13 10 0 Won, 105-95