Sports / Utah Jazz / 
Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) shoots the ball during the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

Annie Barker, Deseret News

Favors playing a minor role this season, but teammates had a big reason to celebrate him

By Ryan Miller, KSL.com | Posted - Apr. 9, 2021 at 10:01 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell called his shot.

"I'm gonna go throw some water on him, so hopefully he doesn't have his walk-in clothes on," Mitchell told the media just before Derrick Favors was set to do his media session.

Sure enough, as Favors sat down for his postgame interview, Mitchell appeared on screen, showering the longtime Jazzman with water.

It's the type of postgame celebration usually reserved for the hero of the night. Favors, though, had a pretty pedestrian line of 7 points and five rebounds in Utah's 122-103 win over the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night. So why the extra hoopla?

With those 7 points, Favors moved into 10th place on the Jazz's all-time scoring list. For a player much more known for his defense and rebounding than his ability to get buckets, that was a special moment — even more than he ever would have thought.

"I didn't even think about that coming into the NBA or even this year or whatever, I didn't think about it," Favors said after wiping himself down a bit from the celebratory shower. "But when it was brought to my attention, I took that moment and kind of took it in, like, 'Damn, I'm top 10 in scoring with one organization.' That's a big accomplishment for me."

Favors has scored 7,257 points in 10 seasons with the Jazz and eclipsed Mehmet Okur on Thursday to move into the top 10. Favors was once seen as the pillar of the franchise, the great hope that would lead the Jazz into a new future. While injuries and the changing NBA derailed some of the grand ambitions, Favors proved he had staying power.

That's in large part because of his willingness to accept just about any role. He backed up Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap with a smile on his face, he became a pick-and-roll threat when Quin Snyder arrived in town, and he even tried to develop a 3-point shot to hopefully allow him and Rudy Gobert to share the court with a bit more space. Now he's happily backing up Gobert.

No ego, no drama, just a player that wants to help his team win any way he can.

"I think throughout the years I've been able to adjust pretty well," Favors said. "Beginning my career, they needed me to come in and be a defender and rebounder. When Quin got here, my role kind of changed to be like a pick-and-roll scorer in the low post. And with the NBA changing, now I'm back to being like a defender, rebounder, screen setter, so I think for the most part, I've done a good job of just adjusting my game, just being a positive on the court."

When asked what he viewed as being the most memorable points scored, he mentioned a bucket that didn't even count toward the total. But that shouldn't have been a surprise: playoff games mean a lot more, after all.

With just over a minute remaining in Game 6 against Oklahoma City in the 2018 first round, Favors popped out to the free throw and bailed the Jazz out by nailing a jumper on a broken play. It gave the Jazz a late 3-point lead and helped seal the series win.

"It kind of won the game for us, so I think that was probably the biggest, biggest moment in my career," Favors said.

That play sums up what his teammates feel about him, too. The play wasn't drawn up for him, but when he was needed, he delivered.

"It says a lot that we let him go for a year and immediately brought him back," Mitchell said about Favors' season in New Orleans. "That says a lot about a person in general — forget the basketball component of it. I think that it says a lot that we wanted to bring him back and everybody missed him. That's first and foremost is him as a person. As a player, man, he comes in does his job, he's a pro's pro, he's humble, hardworking."

After a slow start to the season, Favors has seemed to regain some of his defensive prowess the Jazz were looking for when they brought him back. He's patrolling the paint and contesting shots, and serving as a reliable roll threat on the other end.

His role this season is smaller than it's ever been with the Jazz, so Thursday provided a chance for everyone to celebrate not only what he's doing, but what he's done. Favors is beloved by teammates, by coaches, by fans — that's what happens when you spend a decade with one franchise, even if there was a small sabbatical thrown in there.

"I think I've got everybody's respect on the team," Favors said. "Just the way I carry myself, how I work during practice, the offseason, how I play during the games and don't complain much. I just accept the role and play it to the best of my abilities and try to always encourage the other guys."

Said Mitchell: "He just goes out there and does his job every day, and he does it the right way. We love Fav-O, respect the hell out of Fav-O for what he does."

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