BREAKDOWN – The evolution of Derrick Favors into a force

 

Eyes have been glued to every Dante Exum move, Rudy Gobert has become must watch on the defensive end and Gordon Hayward has proven he can be a star in the NBA.  In the midst of all those story lines this year , the quiet kid from Atlanta, Georgia has calmly taken an enormous jump as a player.

In 4 of the last 5 games Derrick Favors has notched a 20 point, 10 rebound game.  He has scored 20 points or more in more games this year than he did the entire year last year.  He is shooting a career high 55.5%. His scoring jump over the last three years is 9.4 to 13.3 to 16.2.   The list continues, career high in assists, free throws attempts, offensive rebounds and lowest turnover per game since his rookie year.

Numerous factors have come together for Favors to make this step.   He is a starter for the 2ndyearbuilding off last year’s 73 starts.  His weight training work with Mark McKown has been consistent and the dividends are showing.     Favors spent hours on end in the off-season working on his mid-range jump.   Finally, the new offensive system has moved where Favors is making his plays on the court.    Put all of these together in the same stew and a star is emerging in Derrick Favors.

The biggest change of all for Favors is where he is getting the basketball.   In the previous offensive system Favors got the ball primarily on the left block.   This year he is playing off the elbows more than he has in the past.  This allows him to attack from the top or in angle right or angle left.

Compare the shot distribution charts of Favors last year compared to this year.

2013-14 SEASON SHOT DISTRIBUTION

favors shot distrubtioon 13-14 2014-15 SHOT DISTRUBUTION

favors shot distrubution 14-15

Notice a year ago Favors used 11% of his possessions on the left block last year and this year it is down to 5.9%.  It is clear where those possessions have gone.  Rather than using 7% of his possession around the free throw line he is using nearly 15% of his possessions from straight away.

By coming from the top Favors has been able to use his quickness rather than his power.  He is able to see more of the floor and from where the defenders are converging on him.  Think of how the Suns used Amare Stoudamire with Steve Nash in Phoenix.

His effectiveness has changed as well.   The strength work has made him a force around the rim.  In the chart below you can see he has jumped from 65.5% at the rim to an impressive 72.2%.  Of players who take 5 shots or more in the restricted area per game, Favors is 4thbest in the NBA behind DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis and Tyson Chandler.

favors shooting contrast 13-14 to 14-15

 

Lastly, this summer Favors stayed in Salt Lake City and lived in the gym.  Each day he worked on his jump shot.  He told me the #1 area of focus was balance on this jump shot.  The work has given Favors an element to his game he never had previously.

YEAR Mid Range FG%
14-15 40% (45 fgm)
13-14 31% (54 fgm)
12-13 31% (36 fgm)
11-12 29% (21 fgm)
10-11 29% (21 fgm)

 

More impressive is what Favors is doing from 15 feet and out.

YEAR 15 Feet+ Shooting
14-15 44%  (32 fgm)
13-14 28%  (24 fgm)
12-13 23%   (17 fgm)
11-12 23%  (7 fgm)
10-11 24%  (10 fgm)

At just 23 years old there is likely more to come for Favors.  Each night he is having a larger and larger impact on games.   Who defends him is having less impact on how he performs.   Maybe most importantly, his effort level has become consistent each night.

This is all part of the process.  One of the most commonly heard things from Dennis Lindsey is the Jazz are not going to skip steps. Derrick Favors might be the best example of player going step by step through the development and beginning to come out the other side.

 

INSIDER – Exciting trend for Gordon Hayward

In past years when the calendar hit December it was time for Gordon Hayward to start a new.  This year he will try to build on a fabulous November.

For the first time in 4 years Gordon Hayward hits December with momentum  In the three previous year, Gordon Hayward shot 33%, 41% and 39% in November.  This year Gordon has been on fire.  He is shooting 49% from the field and has hit on 39.7% from 3.

Prior to this season, Gordon was 35 of 130 from 3.  This year he is 27 of 68 in November.

gordon november

INSIDER – Something dramatic changed with Rudy Gobert

Inside of this short 18 game season something dramatic has changed with Rudy Gobert.

In the first 9 games of the season the Jazz defense with Gobert on the floor allowed 108.2 pts per 100 possessions.  In the last 9 games it has allowed just 96.7 pts per 100 possessions.

The answer may be rebounding.  In the first 9 games of the season with Gobert on the floor the Jazz garnered just 69.8% of defensive rebounds.  Over the last 9 games the Jazz have grabbed 79.9% of defensive rebounds with Gobert on the floor.

In the first 9 games of the season teams shot 67.9% in the restricted area with Gobert on the floor and took 34% of their shots in the restricted area.   Since then they have shot 61.8% in the restricted area while taking 39% of their shots in the restricted area.

Moreover, in the first 9 games of the season the Jazz were -8.8 per 100 possessions Gobert was on the floor.   In the last 9 games the Jazz are +2.5 with Gobert on the floor and -11.3 when he is off.

Over the last 5 games the Jazz defense with Gobert on the floor has allowed 98.5 pts per 100 possessions and with him on the bench has allowed 117.1.  Some of this is because Gobert has not been playing against the other teams starters, but nonetheless it is obvious he is having a huge impact.

INSIDER — Have the Jazz found their defensive cornerstone?

Every good defensive team has a 7 foot holding down the middle of the floor.   The five best defensive teams in the NBA this year are the Warriors (Bogut), Rockets (Howard), Spurs (Splitter/Duncan), Memphis (Gasol) and Wizards (Gortat).

Most of the best rim protectors in the NBA are 7 footers, Hibbert (38.5%), Dalembert (38.9%) Howard(39.5%) and Bogut (39.7%)

The Jazz have a remarkable 7 footer in Rudy Gobert. Not only is Gobert listed at 7’1 but he also has a wingspan of 7’9 and a standing reach of 9’7.

In just his second year in the NBA Gobert is beginning to have his impact felt defensively.

When Gobert is in the game teams are shooting 43.6% when he is on the bench they shoot 49.1%.   Per 48 minutes opponents score 94.4 pts when Gobert is on the floor and 105.2 when he is on the bench.

gobert defense overa

No surprise Gobert’s impact is felt around the rim.   Opponents shoot just 58% in the restricted area when Rudy is on the floor and only 27.6% of their FGA come in the restricted area.  In contrast,  when Gobert is on the bench teams shoot 65.2% in the restricted area and take 33% of their shots in the restricted area.

gobert defense by area

 

The next step is for the Jazz to figure out how to succeed with Rudy on the floor offensively.  The Jazz currently average just 99.2 points per 100 possessions with Rudy on the floor and 105.7 with him off the floor.

 

 

#Q4Locke – Why hasn’t the defense improved?

q2 11-11

This is a great question, Casey. First off, the Jazz started the year playing their first five games against teams that were ranked in the top seven offensively last year. In addition, all of those teams had an All-NBA player. All-NBA players can blow up the best of any game plan.

Now, the last two games against Detroit and Indiana the Jazz should have been able to show some defensive progress. That has come to fruition. Utah’s defensive rating the last two games has been 102.9. The EFG% defense has been 48.6. Both of these numbers come in better than league average and they should since both those teams are below league average offenses.

The preseason is not a great barometer to what is going to happen in the regular season. One game I recall in the preseason, I was talking with an opposing head coach when I realized they had not watched one moment of film to how the Jazz were playing—they were solely focussed on their team. In the season, they are looking to exploit Utah’s weaknesses.

Utah’s perimeter and high pick-and-roll coverage must improve as the season continues.

Q4Locke #1 – Will Hayward be an All-Star?

Q1 11-11

Oh my goodness has Gordon ever been terrific. The numbers are absurd—19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists a game. If those hold, it will be hard to keep him off the All-Star team. Moreover, the coaches vote and he plays a game coaches love. Gordon is unselfish, plays in the team concept, hustles and respects the game. That will earn coaches’ votes.

However, to answer your question, yes there is a way he doesn’t make the All-Star Team. The Jazz need to win games, and even with wins it might be too much too ask.   Traditionally, coaches decide these issues based on wins. With James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry on the team at the wing, with Klay Thomspon, Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay plus a red-hot Kevin Martin all wanting a spot, it’s hard to see where Gordon makes the team. The NBA All-Star roster is just 13 players and the only spot to fill is Durant’s, but if he and Kobe are voted on the team then I can’t imagine Gordon is able to bump Curry or Harden off the team.

Remember, Deron Williams was amazing and didn’t make the All-Star team for many years.

INSIDER – Here may be the issue with the Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA floor has a left side and a right side.  The problem is the Cavaliers need three left sides.

Last year, Kevin Love took 305 left side 3 pointers and only 91 from the right side.  In addition, Love took over 250 left side 2′s and only 90 right side twos.

Here is Love’s short chart

love shot chart

 

Seems like no big deal until you look at where LeBron James was best last year

lebron shot chartLeBron is awesome from the left side, but is below the league average when he has to play on the right side of the floor.

This brings us to Kyrie Irving.   And once again he prefers the left side of the floor

irving shot chartKyrie Irving’s shot chart is almost identical to LeBron James.  The angle right three for both James and Irving is a 27-29% shot.  Irving shot chart is more balanced, but he is better on the left side of the floor.

Not a lot leaning left these days but the Cavaliers three main scores all do when on the basketball floor.