The first two were easy -- John Wall and Evan Turner are almost locks to go one and two. Now it gets dicey. Should Derrick Favors be the third pick, or should it be DeMarcus Cousins? Time to take a look at Mr. Favors, and why he's so awesome.
Number three, Derrick Favors:
12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.9 steals, 2.1 blocks, 2.5 turnovers, 61% FG, 63% FT.
His mediocre college numbers shouldn't concern you ...
Before analyzing his strengths and weaknesses, it's very much necessary to take a look at the situation Favors has found himself in at Georgia Tech, a team that struggles badly in the half-court and relies extremely heavily on their defense and offensive rebounding ability to keep them in games. They have little in the ways of perimeter shooting, suffer from very poor spacing on the perimeter, and have given their opponents few reasons not to pack it in defensively and just try and control the paint.
With no playmakers on the roster to create easy looks for him or even consistently make a fundamentally sound post-entry pass, and clearly playing redundantly alongside a big man with almost the same exact strengths and weaknesses as him in Gani Lawal, Favors' weaknesses could not possibly be magnified or exposed any worse than they already have.
He's incredibly gifted from a physical standpoint, showing a combination of length and athleticism that is simply unparalleled at the college level. He runs the floor like a deer, is outrageously explosive around the rim, and is a fantastic target for entry-passes thanks to his terrific hands and the amazing extension he gets around the basket.
Offensively, Favors is fairly limited as a shot-creator in the half-court, showing raw footwork and little in the ways of a go-to move, struggling to finish with his left hand and being fairly turnover prone when forced to put the ball on the floor.
Favors converts a super efficient 59% of his field goal attempts (ranking him 11th in our database), a testament to his terrific finishing ability. Unfortunately he takes only 7.5 shots per game, as his teammates are often unwilling or unable to get him the ball in a position to score. The more wide open style of the NBA game should benefit him in this regard, both in transition (where he truly excels) and as a pick and roll finisher in the half-court-especially with more talented shot-creating guards alongside him.
Defensively, Favors has all the tools needed to become an elite player down the road, even if his lack of experience definitely shows at times, mainly in the form of cheap fouls. His terrific length and timing already make him an imposing shot-blocking threat at the college level, and his excellent lateral quickness allows him to step out onto the perimeter, hedge screens and stay in front of smaller players attacking the basket with the greatest of ease. As he gets stronger, he shouldn't have too much of an issue seeing minutes at the center position from time to time in smaller up-tempo lineups in today's NBA.
Raw, but full of the p-word ...
There are a certain amount of assumptions that are made in projecting the career trajectory of a prospect like Favors-he's a fairly raw player who is still a long ways away from being a finished product, and will have to improve considerably in certain areas. With that said, Favors' terrific intangibles make it quite a bit easier to see him reaching his incredibly high ceiling compared with the likes of a DeMarcus Cousins for example, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him improve rapidly over the next few years.
Whoever drafts him must be patient though, as it's unlikely that he'll be ready to compete for Rookie of the Year honors, and he surely isn't ready to play a major offensive role right away. Players with his natural tools are incredibly hard to come by, though, which is exactly why he won't have to wait very long before hearing his name called on draft night.
Favors came into the season ranked as the second best prospect in the country. He still may be. However, his production didn't match his potential until late in the season. Some of that fault has to do with his point guards who rarely got him the ball. Some was a lack of aggressiveness on his part. Regardless, he still stands out as a terrific prospect. He's an Amare Stoudemire/Antonio McDyess type of power forward who, once he develops a more polished offensive game, should be a star. Look for him to go somewhere between 2 and 5.
What would've happened if Favors played with Wall?
Do us all a favor and get out of Georgia Tech. The way his guards have ignored him all year is criminal. After a solid first game, Favors didn't score until the second half against Ohio State. Is he raw? Sure. But if he had a point guard who could get him the ball, he would dominate.
The p-word again ...
Favors has Amare Stoudemire-meets-Al Horford potential. He has been terrific the past eight games of the season, averaging 17 points and nine rebounds per game. He has been much more aggressive on both ends of the floor and has begun to reclaim his place near the top of the draft.
How's the form on his jumper?
As for his jump shot, Favors has a nice looking stroke out to 12 feet or so, but he has not been very good, hitting less than 30% of his jumpers this year. Fortunately, he does not take a lot of jump shots, but at the next level he will need to get better at hitting that shot. I don't see anything in his mechanics or release that looks wrong or broken. His shot looks consistent, with good form and a high release; but it is a bit flat and sometimes he looks rushed. I don't think there's anything there that cannot be fixed with practice and a good shooting coach.
He's Jrue Holiday young.
And, he's still only 18 years old.
DX - Best case: Antonio McDyess In Prime
Worst case: Chris Wilcox
Chad Ford - Amare Stoudemire
NBADraft.net - Al Horford
I love Evan Turner, and I love John Wall. There is no doubt in my mind that they are the two best prospects, but D-Favors is probably my favorite prospect of this class. While Wall and Turner would both make the Sixers a ridiculous defensive team on the perimeter, Favors would give the Sixers a nice balance of perimeter defense and post defense. Jrue/Andre on the wings, and Favors/Dalembert in the middle would be tough to score on. Unlike Turner and Wall, Favors probably wouldn't make a huge impact offensively. I'd expect him to have the type of rookie season Jrue had -- terrific defense, insane potential, rookie struggles, but overall a player who the fans love, and could be something special. In case you haven't noticed, I like Favors better than Cousins -- which isn't a forgone conclusion with most people.