Derrick Favors is the latest casualty for the forever-injured Utah Jazz, but they have options should he never fully recover.
Throughout the 2016-17 NBA season so far, Derrick Favors has looked a shadow of his former self for the Utah Jazz. Once the model of consistency, Favors can’t even get on the court consistently, let alone produce good numbers in a regular fashion.
Having averaged over 16 points and eight rebounds per game in each of the last two seasons, Favors and his numbers have taken a dive in this injury-ravaged season. Having played in just 33 of the 50 games so far this season, Favors is only recording 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in limited minutes. His injuries have obviously played a part in the reduction in points and rebounds, but therein lies the problem.
Article continues below ...
After several games back in the starting lineup it seemed as though we were starting to see a healthy Derrick Favors.
Having missed the last two games to rest his knees, it appears as though his road to recovery is slow and may, in fact, be never-ending.
If Favors isn’t able to recreate his numbers from his 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, the Jazz will struggle to progress to where their hearts desire. They may remain in the middle of the pack, which, in the NBA, is the worst place a franchise can find itself.
The Jazz have the talent to be a contender, even in a Western Conference full of powerhouse teams. With their forever underrated All-Star in Gordon Hayward, a backcourt of George Hill and Rodney Hood that boasts both experience and youth, along with Rudy Gobert clogging up the middle, they have the foundations of a championship team.
What they are missing this season is a consistent presence at power forward that can spread the floor but also provide the physical and stifling defensive presence to work alongside Gobert. A healthy Favors does cater to those needs, as Hood told the Salt Lake Tribune after their game against the Memphis Grizzlies — a game in which they were without their preferred starting power forward:
“It really showed up last game. Just the physical toughness that he has defensively. Offensively, he makes big plays, putting people in the rim, dunking the ball. We needed that.”
Unfortunately for the Jazz, they have rarely seen what a 100 percent healthy Gobert and Favors frontcourt looks like after they both missed at least 20 games each last season. The prospect of a healthy frontcourt is something that will have Qunn Snyder reluctant to break up the duo given the injury-influenced numbers they have managed to put together this season.
Despite the injury ailments, a Gobert/Favors two-man lineup has an offensive rating of 104.2 and a defensive rating of 99.8. Across the whole league, only 16 other duo’s have a better defensive rating than Gobert and Favors.
The ideal scenario sees Favors return to full health, he goes back to posting his 16 points and eight rebounds, and the Jazz become the Western Conference contender their roster suggests they should be.
But what if that doesn’t happen? When does the Jazz front office cut their losses and release Favors into an NBA so often riddled with injury-plagued big men?
It’s too early to give up on Favors at the moment, but if there are no signs of a possible 100 percent recovery by the end of the season, decisions will need to be made.
Favors has one year and $12 million left on his contract, which would make him an exceptional trade chip this time next year.
With still 32 games left in the season, Favors has time to recover and prove this season is the exception and is not becoming the rule. Too many more games missed due to rest and speculation on his future will only grow. Sometimes these things happen, it just so happens the Jazz see it occur regularly.
Luckily there are always plenty of teams in the market for injured bigs (New York Knicks), so the Jazz will have options should the decision be made to cut ties. We can only hope Favors and his knees make the decision an easy one and he remains in Utah for years to come.