In 2003, a 6’10”, 210 lb. lanky freshman from Georgia Tech burst on to the basketball scene and wound up becoming the No. 4 pick in that year’s NBA Draft. You might know him better as Chris Bosh.
Similarly, in 2010, a 6’10”, 245 lb. freshman from Georgia Tech once again became one of the best freshman big men in college basketball. This time, it’s Derrick Favors.
Favors averaged 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks on 61.1% shooting this season for the Yellow Jackets. He showed the moxie of…well, a freshman. At times, he was the best player on the floor and there was nothing opposing teams could do to slow him down. Other times, he allowed defenses to take him out of the game without appropriately asserting his aggressiveness.
But as is typically the case in the NBA Draft, a player with tremendous upside potential (copyright to Bill Simmons) will be selected high despite any lingering issues in his game. Favors is no exception.
NBA Position: PF
Weight: 245 lbs.
School: Georgia Tech
Currently at just 18 years of age and being one of the youngest players in the draft, one of the major upsides to Favors is the fact that he’s so young and has so much room to grow.
He has a 7’2” wingspan and 9’1” standing reach. While those measurements pretty much mean nothing on a basketball court, it is a testament to the athleticism of Favors.
Offensively, he owns the paint. He is a great scorer near the hoop and has a soft touch off the rim inside of five feet. He can finish ambidextrously, and often times it seems as if he even prefers to spin off the defender to finish with his left hand.
And, when the situation calls for it, he finishes emphatically as well.
He as a smooth stroke on his jump shot, often stretching the defense out in the 12-15 foot range. While he doesn’t look for this shot often, it’s an important skill to have, especially in the NBA game. With time, this shot will improve.
His athleticism sets his apart from others at the power forward position. He has the ability to run the floor and is more agile than most because of his adept footwork. His size and frame is comparable to that of Dwight Howard’s when Howard was 18.
One more positive stat: in 36 games, he fouled out just once.
Basically, Favors’ biggest weakness is his age and maturity. At 18, he doesn’t have the mental discipline required to be a dominant force inside in the NBA. But that will change (at least scouts most hope) as he grows older and gains more experience.
At times in college, he relied far too much on his athleticism and explosiveness. When he couldn’t overpower the opposition, he became dormant and didn’t look to attack the defense in other areas.
Take his two games against Duke, when the Blue Devils had significant size and quickness inside to throw at Favors. He averaged a paltry 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds and took just 11 shots in those contests.
And, in the regional quarterfinal against Ohio State, he allowed himself to be taken out of the game by 6’9” Dallas Lauderdale and 6’6” David Lighty.
While he does have a decent stroke on his outside jumper, he doesn’t look for it often. His face-up offensive game leaves something to be desired, and he doesn’t always get great position in the post. When he is forced out of his comfort zone, he isn’t effective.
But all of this is sure to improve with age and experience. The two main areas where he needs to focus are in his strength (he must continue to put pounds on his frame) and his ball handling/decision making (he averaged 2.5 turnovers a game last season).
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
Draft Projection: Top Five