Favoring Utah: Beehive State becoming home, sweet home for Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors

Published: Tuesday, July 30 2013 10:00 p.m. MDT

By the way, Favors went to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., with his South Atlanta High School team, the 2009 Georgia Class 3A state champion, but he’s never actually heard one of the enshrinement speeches.

“I don’t want to listen to one,” he said. “The first one I listen to, I want it to be mine.”

Even so, Favors has gotten an earful from someone who has delivered an emotion-filled Hall of Fame speech. So far this offseason, the fourth-year pro has worked out twice with Malone, who’s added part-time Jazz big man coach to his lengthy resume.

“They’ve been intense,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said of the Malone-Favors workouts. “They’ve been really good for both guys.”

Malone’s return to the Jazz organization has been well-publicized. One of the more interesting aspects of the coach Mailman situation is that Favors reached out to management about getting in contact with the NBA’s all-time second-leading scorer.

“I was just at home thinking, ‘Karl Malone played here. Why not?’” Favors said. “I (thought) the worst they can do is just say, ‘No, he can’t come.’ I just asked to see if they can make it happen. I didn’t expect to work out with him. I just wanted to talk, pick his brain or whatever, but we started working out with each other.”

Jazz brass — already impressed by Favors’ willingness to improve on many levels, including in media interviews — was thrilled to accommodate him once Malone agreed to the arrangement.

“It really shows that he wants to work to get better,” Corbin said. “He wants to (learn from) the guys that played the position, like Karl, and understand how to get the knowledge and help his game grow, especially on the offensive end.”

Favors tweaked his back during his USA Basketball participation last week and is taking a week off from his arduous summer training, but he hopes to get in more sessions with Malone this offseason, perhaps even in Ruston, La.

If nothing else, it’s helped him get into prime condition.

“This might sound crazy,” Favors said, “but the hardest thing was getting ready to work out with him because he wanted me to be in shape, be ready before he got there.”

While Favors continues to work on his mid-range jumper and refines a go-to move or two in the post — something that will come with increased playing time, he believes — the young big said Malone has given him great ideas.

What he’s learned most: “how to approach the game, how to outthink your opponent, just all those mental things.”

Favors smiled while admitting he beat Malone in a game of H-O-R-S-E — “He don’t want me to tell nobody” — but he admiringly described the recently turned 50-year-old as a “still strong guy.”

“I think,” he added, “he could come out here and still hold his own."

Leading the youth movement

Favors knows he’ll need to more than hold his own, mentally and physically, now that Paul Millsap has headed to his backup’s childhood home to play for the Hawks and Al Jefferson has signed with Charlotte.

That was the message they each had for Favors on their way out of Utah: “They both just told me, ‘It’s (your) team now; it’s time to take over; do your thing out there. You’ve been learning from us the past two or three years; now it’s time to play.’”

To sum up Favors’ reaction to that sentiment: FINALLY!

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