Utah Jazz: Big Al Jefferson says he can learn from the young guy Derrick Favors

Published: Sunday, April 10 2011 11:00 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors, 15, is fouled by San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner during the first quarter of Saturday's game.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

NEW ORLEANS — Al Jefferson has been in the NBA for seven seasons, so it stands to reason he'd have tricks of the trade to pass along to a teenager like Derrick Favors.

But Big Al smiled after Saturday's game and hinted that the teacher might need to pay attention to the student in this case.

What the big (young) man did during the Utah Jazz's loss to the Spurs — a career-best 17 points and five rebounds — was not lost on Jefferson or anybody else who watched how Favors competitively played against the NBA championship contenders.

"I'm talking about teaching him some stuff," Jefferson said. "I might need to learn some stuff from him."

When told at practice Sunday how Jefferson said he might need a few lessons from him, the shy and polite Favors cracked a slight grin.

"I don't know," said Favors, whose next student-teacher session will take place tonight against the New Orleans Hornets. "He got a lot of stuff in his post game that I would like to learn."

Sounds like a match made in upcoming summer school heaven.

"He getting more and more comfortable," Jefferson said of Favors. "He got some nice moves, too, with his back to the basket, the way he can finish with both hands. =85 He's ahead of the game for being a 19-year-old kid."

Which explains why Tyrone Corbin is thrilled to begin his head-coaching career with such a big, young talent who was the national player of the year and a hot commodity coming out of his Atlanta-area high school in 2009.

"I'm really excited about him, because his upside," Corbin said. "He's a young guy. You can kind of mold and teach him the things that you need him to learn to get better. As he get better, the team will be better, which means his time on the floor will be more effective for us."

Veteran point guard Devin Harris has been with Favors the entire tumultuous season — from his NBA get-go in New Jersey, where trade rumors swirled the head-spinning No. 3 draft pick's name around, to Indianapolis, where the pair met up with new Jazz teammates for the first time after being traded for Deron Williams in late February, to the AT&T Center on Saturday night, when Favors established a career-high in scoring with 17 hard-earned points..

Having seen his entire rookie year up close, Harris gives the would-be Georgia Tech sophomore a favorable progress report.

Favors won't win the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.

But he is coming along nicely.

"I think he's playing more confident right now. . . I think he's really flourishing," Harris said. "He does well. His post moves are getting better. He's making stronger moves. He's always been a good offensive rebounder."

When the Jazz were able to acquire Favors in the D-Will deal, general manager Kevin O'Connor was giddy about getting a talented, high draft selection with two ideal qualities: youth and size.

"Hopefully," O'Connor said, "he becomes the player that we like a great deal."

The 6-foot-10 tall one, mind you, was in one of the top two spots on the Jazz's 2010 draft board.

"You don't see kids with that size with that athleticism," O'Connor said. "He's got a body. He's got athletic ability. He's not afraid to work."

The Jazz G.M. conceded it would take time for Favors to develop, and Corbin suggested that has happened in the past month and a half despite — maybe because — of all of the tough times and turmoil the team has experienced..

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