The next big thing: Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors looking to have a breakout season
The downside was that Favors and Hayward weren't able to participate with the Jazz's summer-league team in Orlando in July. Included in the large upside was the fact Favors thoroughly enjoyed the demanding duty and intense effort required in Las Vegas.
"Practices were tough and competitive," Favors said. "It was a good experience."
Training against the likes of Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and DeJuan Blair every day helped him learn what it will take to be a better pro on a day-in, day-out basis. Being around the Olympians showed him, he pointed out, that taking care of his body's conditioning is critical.
"I learned that I could compete with those guys," Favors said. "But at the same time, l learned that I've got a lot of work to do to be on their level consistently."
For one thing, Favors said, scoring two or four points against such players as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams felt like scoring 20.
"Basically, it was that hard to score against them," he said. "It was an eye-opener, let you know that you are good but there are people out there that are way better and you need to work more."
For the rest of the summer, Favors isn't focusing on one particular aspect of his game in work sessions, in Utah, Atlanta (his home) and Santa Barbara (at the Jazz-recommended P3 performance training facility). In a Twitter chat with fans through @utahjazz, Favors said he plans on training with Hall of Fame power forward Karl Malone this offseason.
Since taking the latter part of July off to "kind of rejuvenate" after the Vegas workouts, Favors is working on everything from regaining the strength in his legs and arms to being an even bigger defensive menace to developing more potent post moves, better offensive technique and what he calls "cheat moves."
Cheat moves? "I'm just trying to steal people's post moves right now. I'm trying to steal Al's and Paul's stuff right now," Favors said with a laugh. He added, "I'm just trying to still learn all their stuff, watch their stuff, try to steal some of it — not all of it — but certain moves that I know that I can do. Just try to watch and learn how they do it."
And then put those cheat moves into action on the court in game situations — preferably in large chunks.
"I'd rather be thrown out in the fire. That's the type of person I am, the type of player I am," Favors said.
Along those lines, Favors now has high hopes of playing for the U.S. in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or in other Olympics.
"I hope so. That's a goal now since I was picked to be on the Select Team," he said. "I want to make the Senior Team now that I've made that experience."
Just one more thing to fire up the young man who still uses his rocky rookie season as a motivating factor every time he steps into a gym. The way he was treated by the Nets after being drafted third overall in 2010 still irks him.
I don't want to go through nothing like that again," Favors said. "That's what motivates me every time I step in the gym — just being in trade rumors the whole time (in New Jersey). I know it's a business, but I just felt unwanted."
Favors has felt the exact opposite in Utah. He's very wanted, and he appreciates that, which seems obvious considering he accepted a request to travel from Tabiona to Moab and elsewhere in the state to put on a week's worth of Junior Jazz clinics this summer for youth (Jeremy Evans and DeMarre Carroll also took turns). One reason Favors accepted the organization's request was simply, he said, "just to get out and see Utah." Though he seems shy — "I'm just laid back … I'm not too shy," he clarified — Favors enjoys interactions with fans. He teasingly told Tabiona camp attendees that the Bobcats were the toughest team to play (after the worst season in NBA history). He then upped his joking level by claiming he'd want to play for the Lakers if he weren't with the Jazz.
"I'm just messing with them," Favors said, smiling. "I know they're going to get mad if I say something about the Lakers."
In reality, Favors is happy with the way he's been so openly embraced by the Jazz organization and its fans ever since Utah traded for him as part of the mega-D-Will deal in 2011.
"They haven't done anything to change my mind about it. Utah is a great place," Favors said. "It seems like a family-oriented organization. Everybody around here is nice. They try to help people to the best of their ability. I enjoy it. I enjoy being here."
The Jazz have Favors under his rookie contract for this season and possess the team option for a fourth year. They also have the upper hand in trying to negotiate an extension next year.
"Contract year is something in the back of your mind," Favors said. "I'm not thinking about it right now, but probably during the season if I'm not playing a lot then I'll probably start thinking about it."
Favors has no intention of saying a peep to Corbin about playing time, so that shouldn't be taken as a threat or demand. It's just straight-from-the-heart speak from a potential-packed young big man who is ready to continue showing he could be the next big thing.
"Just try to build on what I did last year and just keep improving," Favors said. "I just want to play. I just want to play. I'm really not worried about starting, all that stuff right now. I just want to go out there and play."
If all goes as many observers believe will happen after that, a Jazz fan in Tabiona just might regret not having a certain cowboy hat on his mantel.
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