The reserve center, brought back to Utah to stop the bleeding when Rudy Gobert is off the field, bursts his limited playoff minutes.
About five years ago, Quin Snyder brought in four-time NBA All-Star Doug Collins to speak to his Utah Jazz team. A seed of advice Collins offered to players at the time is paying off in the team’s current push for the franchise’s first NBA title.
“He said, ‘Be a star in your role,'” 6-foot-9 backup center Derrick Favors recalled. “And I kind of took that to heart because it made perfect sense to me.”
Favors has played fewer minutes per game this season than at any point in his career. Yet, one could argue that second by second, each of those minutes packs more punch.
In the Jazz‘s second-round series opener against the Clippers on Tuesday, Favors spent less than 15 minutes on the ground. Still, his defensive momentum, punctuated by two blocks, three defensive rebounds and one steal, kept Snyder from having to rush to reinsert alleged defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert. The Jazz would end up winning the match, 112-109.
That performance was just an extension of the dynamic minutes Favors charted against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. His play in Game 1, Utah’s only loss in the series, in which he enjoyed his third-most minutes of the season after Gobert experienced fouling issues, was a bright spot for Jazz. In 23 minutes, he had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Over six games, he averaged 5.7 rebounds, 5.2 points and 1.3 against in 15 minutes. But, on the pitch, he’s made up 72% of the team’s offensive rebounds, 40% of its total rebounds, and 73% of its blocks. By comparison, Tony Bradley in the same role last year accounted for 62.5% of his offensive rebounds, 45% of his total rebound and 50% of the squad’s blocks during his time on the pitch through six. matches.
Favors won’t be replacing Gobert in the starting lineup anytime soon and won’t necessarily even see more minutes, but Snyder has said he’s making himself essential to the squad.
“Rudy is unique and Fav is unique in his own way. And perhaps the most unique thing about [Favors] he’s a guy who plays in his role, ”Snyder said. “And I think that example that he’s giving our whole band, I think that’s one of the reasons he came back here, that he knew no matter what his minutes were like or his role during the regular season, he’s a guy that’s going to be crucial for us, you know, if we’re going to be successful in the playoffs.
Last season Favors ended up in a team other than Jazz for the first time in 10 seasons. But he applied Collins’ advice while filling the role of OG and host of a young but talented team of New Orleans Pelicans, and his willingness to take on that role has earned him deep respect from from his teammates.
“He does all the dirty work, incredibly selfless,” veteran JJ Redick told The Tribune in March. “And every team he’s been on, he makes them better when he’s on the pitch.”
When the Jazz asked Favors, 29, to join the team this season as a coagulant for the bleeding Utah does whenever Gobert leaves the field, Favors said he knew he could be a starter elsewhere. But in Utah, he could have meaningful minutes, limit the wear and tear on his body (he’s missed a few games this season with knee pain) and maybe win a ring as well.
“It was definitely something I was thinking about, because I knew Utah was going to be a playoff team and I knew they had a shot at a championship,” Favors said. “And that was something I wanted to be a part of. And when the opportunity presented itself, I took it.
He approaches his playing time in the playoffs the same way. When the opportunity presents itself, he seizes it.