The Future Can’t Wait
By Patrick Kinahan
As the Jazz wind down another regular season, and continue to make a late push for the playoffs, certain truths have become apparent.
They begin with Derrick Favors, who has showed enough promise to demand increased playing time. Starting next season, and probably spanning the next decade, the 6-foot-10 high-flying talent needs to play at least 30 minutes a game.
As the Jazz approach this off-season, recognizing that it could determine the level of the team’s success for the next several years, management has got to make it a priority to allow Favors to develop. Any trades or other moves should be made with the 20-year-old’s future in mind.
For much of this season, Ty Corbin has seemed reluctant to play Favors at the expense of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. It’s obvious the second-year coach prefers experience over youth.
As we’ve seen multiple times, Favors is nothing more than a cheerleader even when Jefferson and Millsap play 20 minutes worth of overtime periods.
But the future can’t wait. As solid as the experienced players are, Corbin has to figure out a way for them to complement Favors.
If necessary, Jazz management has to force Corbin’s hand. The point is trade Jefferson or Millsap to open more time for Favors.
Until foul trouble rendered him ineffective in only 13 minutes against Dallas on Monday, Favors had turned into a double-double machine. In the last six games in which he’s played at least 24 minutes, he has posted at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in five games.
As the primary options, Jefferson and Millsap have taken this team has far as they can. Favors and Gordon Hayward deserve the opportunity to see how far they can take the Jazz.
None of this is a knock on Jefferson or Millsap, the two most responsible for the Jazz somewhat surprising run to a potential playoff spot. But who will be the best of the three in five years?
In glimpses, Favors has shown it will be him.
Besides the aforementioned run of double-doubles, it’s worth looking at the four games – Jefferson missed each of those games - Favors has started this season. Except for one game, a Jazz win over Portland in which he had eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes, Favors put up great numbers.
In his first start of the season, Favors posted 16 points and 12 rebounds in 42 minutes in an overtime loss to Toronto. He also started in two consecutive wins on back-to-back nights, getting 23 points and 17 rebounds in 34 minutes in overtime against Golden State and then 12 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes against the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Inconsistent playing time will only thwart his development.
Speaking to David Locke in a Locked on Jazz podcast, Favors was diplomatic when discussing his minutes.
“You get frustrated, you get kind of mad,” he said. “But the same time, you’ve got to be patient with it and you ‘ve got to play your role.”
Eventually, like next season, that patience will run its course.
The other benefit to featuring Favors more is that it allows the Jazz to address other needs. Any number of teams would have interest in Jefferson or Millsap, both of whom could bring an impact in return if the Jazz were interested in making a trade.
Obviously, the Jazz need to improve their perimeter shooting. Trading junk for junk won’t address the concern.
But exchanging frontline players creates several possibilities. The offseason figures to be interesting for the Jazz.