Overtime - Draft Central 2010

Nets Nab Favors, Add James in Trade

By Ben Couch

June 24, 2010

Derrick Favors

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—A week of intrigue ended with the most expected option. Rumored to be trading down or taking any of four players with the No. 3 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Nets followed Washington (John Wall) and Philadelphia (Evan Turner) by selecting Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors.

“We feel he was the most talented player at that position,” said Nets coach Avery Johnson. “When you look at the No. 3 pick, there were a lot of guys to decide out of, and all those guys are going to be good NBA players. But we were looking for somebody that could be an outstanding NBA player; we were looking for somebody that could be a perennial All-Star – in time – and we feel we got that guy.”

A 6-foot-11, 246-pound power forward, Favors wields a 7-foot-4 wingspan and 35 ½-inch vertical, providing a combination of length and athleticism that will slot nicely alongside center Brook Lopez. The frontcourt tandem could cause problems for opposing teams, though mostly on defense and the glass until Favors’ unrefined offensive game develops into something smoother.

“I’m not a kid anymore,” said the 18-year-old Favors. “I have to grow up and grow up fast. And get ready to play against some of the top players in the world.”

Favors left the Yellow Jackets after a single season in which he averaged 12.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 27.5 minutes while earning recognition as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Rookie of the Year. As Georgia Tech Paul Hewitt mentioned in a previous interview with njnets.com, rebounding translates well from college to the pros, and will likely be the area in which Favors contributes best as a rookie. He’ll be able to irritate opponents defensively, though his ability to limit foul trouble – usually the trick for rookie bigs – will likely determine the full extent of his playing time.

Offensively, Favors is a self-acknowledged “work-in-progress” who plans to focus on his post moves and stretching his shooting range past the 15-to-16-foot distance at which he’s currently comfortable. Until then, he’ll likely do most of his damage in transition and swiping missed shots for putbacks.

“I can fit in with my athleticism,” Favors said. “And playing with Brook, he’s going to take a lot of pressure off me. He’ll be the main focal point of the low post; I can help him with rebounds and with defense.”

As a senior at South Atlanta High School, Favors averaged 28.1 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.0 blocks, 3.0 steals and 2.0 assists, subsequently earning High School Player of the Year honors from Parade, USA Today, the Atlanta Tipoff Club and MaxPreps. He also performed well enough to be named Most Valuable Player at the McDonald’s All-American game and Jordan Brand Classic. Georgia’s “Mr. Basketball” was first-team all-state each year of high school and followed Josh Smith and Dwight Howard on their Atlanta AAU squad.

After claiming Favors, the Nets waited out 24 picks and several trades before drafting Jordan Crawford 27th and Tibor Preiss 31st. But they had agreed to package the pair and flip them to Atlanta for No. 24, forward Damion James, who exited Texas after four years as the Big 12’s all-time leader in career rebounds. He averaged 18.0 points and 10.3 rebounds as a senior, and Johnson said the Nets expected him to go between picks 12 and 14.

James’ rebounding and defensive prowess are built upon an aggressive nature and his 6-foot-7, 227-pound frame, which features a 7-foot-1 wingspan. The 22-year-old is solid offensively, though according to the Web site DraftExpress, his ball-handling and spot-up shooting need to improve to ensure NBA success. James improved his shooting percentages notably from freshman year, though his free-throw percentage has hovered around 68 percent for two years running.

“(Damion’s) very talented and he can come and play minutes at the 3 position right now,” Johnson said. “He’s tough, hard-nosed, and for a team that couldn’t play much defense last year, you’ve got to get some guys that can help you on that end of the floor.”

With two previous cracks at the No. 3 pick, the Nets scored once, but airballed the other attempt. In 1981, they drafted a Rookie of the Year and eventual three-time All-Star in Buck Williams, but followed with Dennis Hopson (five-season career averages: 10.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG) six years later. The Nets had never previously selected 27th or 31st.

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