DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 5: Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz shoots a free throws against the Detroit Pistons on January 5, 2019 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

'Nothing fazes me'—Derrick Favors is a steady force for the Utah Jazz

by Aaron Falk

When Derrick Favors made his choice to re-sign with the Utah Jazz last July, he did so knowing he would be making some sacrifices. The big man knew he could have a different role, perhaps a bigger role, somewhere else.

But he might not have had a more important role.

“What we ask Derrick to do is not always easy,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has said. “His role can fluctuate at any given time, depending on what the team needs. His ability to embrace that has been something that’s really important. It sets an example for our team.

“Playing the 5, the 4. Starting, coming off the bench. Finishing games, not finishing games. There are just a lot of things that require you to stay mentally focused. It shows his character.”

The Jazz got back to .500 on the season with a win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, and they know they wouldn’t be there without Favors. The longest-tenured member of the Utah Jazz has been a steady force for his team during the ups and downs of this season’s first half.

“Nothing fazes me anymore,” Favors said. “I’ve been through it all.”

Favors has come off the bench five times this season, after starting every game in which he played the season before. He has stepped out of his comfort zone near the basket to try to give the Jazz added spacing on offense. And he has done it without complaint.

“The NBA changes on you,” he said. “You’ve just got to always be able to adjust. Just find your niche, find a way to be comfortable out there. Do you what you do and just have fun.”

Favors has certainly adapted over the years. He came into the league ready to use his athleticism to attack the basket but added a midrange jump shot when teams started to sag off him on defense and pack the paint. Now Favors is trying to make defenders respect him when he spaces out to the corner, where he is shooting just 29 percent on 1.1 attempts per game.

“It’s happening now with the 3-point line,” said Favors. “It’s something I have to work on.”

The big man has worked hard to put an end to the questions about his compatibility to play alongside center Rudy Gobert.

There can be no questions about Favors’ professionalism.

Just think back to December 6. Favors wasn’t in the starting lineup that night against the Houston Rockets. He was sitting on the bench Gobert was ejected just 2:47 into the contest. Favors didn’t miss a beat, though, giving his team a game-high 24 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) to go along with 10 rebounds, a steal, and a blocked shot.

“You can’t say enough about Fav,” Snyder said. “What he gives us is unique.”

The Jazz were 20-20 and sitting in ninth place in the West as they prepared to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. And Favors, who is averaging 11.2 points and 7 rebounds per game this season, believes he and his team are ready to make a push.

“We got better last month,” he said. “But it’s important to get off to a good start and win some games before the All-Star break. …

“We’ve had a lot more energy in the locker room lately. That’s what winning does. It gives you that extra juice.”

Not that Derrick Favors needs anything extra.

“I’m always ready,” he said.

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