SLAM Top 50: Derrick Favors, No. 48

Derrick Favors dropped a career-high 35 against the Pacers last season. It was the biggest offensive explosion of his career, only the second 30-point game he’s had in six years. But he was nice during that game. He was hitting jumpers, dropping his left shoulder into every defender that tried to stop him from getting to the rim, getting dunks. He put his old-school game on full display that night.

Favors uses mid-range shots, post-ups, duck-ins and throw downs to get his buckets. On defense, the 25-year-old uses his brute strength to gain position for rebounds, blocks and stops. He’s not out there shooting threes. He’s not jumping out the gym like these new-age athletes. But he’s getting the job done.

Now entering his seventh season, his maturity and poise has turned him into a rock for a Jazz team trying to make the Playoffs.

When he spoke to SLAM last month, Favors was all about capitalizing on being a leader:

“When I started out last year, I was like, Man, I’ve been in the NBA six years. I’m now an established vet. I’m getting old now,” he said.

It might sound funny to hear a 25-year-old say that, but that’s really how Favors operates. He’s all business, a big picture kind of a guy. He’s not about the numbers, although 16 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.

He’s been chipping away at getting to the Playoffs his whole career. All the while, his individual game has grown, making him a force to be reckoned with. On both sides of the ball, Favors is for real.

He carries the responsibility of reliability on his shoulders, knowing how much the Jazz need from him. On any given night, the power forward runs the offense from the elbow, dishing, shooting and driving. He and Rudy Gobert anchor one of the League’s best defenses. While Gobert makes the loud, flashy plays, Favors is the one holding down the fort.

With Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood taking all the risks with the ball, Favors has to be the one that head coach Quinn Snyder can trust to come through no matter what.

“This offseason, I’ve been busting my ass in workouts to reach that next level,” Favors told us last month. “Working on everything. Jumpshot, post moves. Working out on my body because I got injured last year. Making sure I’m healthy going into next year. I’ve just been working on everything.”

Yeah, it took him six years to have a big scoring night. But don’t let that fool you. Derrick Favors has all the tools to get buckets every night. He also has the IQ to understand that scoring doesn’t always lead to winning. And all he wants to do is win..

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

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