Derrick Favors: Shedding the Underrated Label

(Photo courtesy of SportsBlog.com) (Photo courtesy of SportsBlog.com)

By Derrick Favors, a standout forward on the Jazz whose column below was featured on SportsBlog.com, a content partner of the NBPA that focuses on first-person stories with pro athletes   

I often hear that I’m one of the most underrated players in the league. While I think it’s a fair assessment, I also know that means people are starting to pay more attention to me. And it gives me a lot of motivation to prove myself and show that my name deserves to be among the league’s elite.

I think people see me as underrated because while I’ve improved so much over the years, I never had a true breakout season where I caught a lot of attention. You could say that some people wrote me off, but kept improving. It’s just been a gradual process.

I’ve definitely improved a lot since last season, especially on the offensive side of the court…my post-game, my jump shot, getting more involved in the offense. This past summer, I worked a lot on my jump shot – timing, form, balance…everything I could do to work on my jumper. Let’s just say that I got a lot of shots up this past offseason! I’m getting more trust from my coaches and teammates than ever before. They trust me to make plays on the offensive end, encourage me to take shots and want me to be one of the focal points of the offense.

Of course there’s always room for improvement, but I went in to the season with high expectations for myself, and I think I am meeting those. I’ve always been a power forward, but this year I’m just more involved in the offense. So I’m getting more shots and more opportunities, which is causing my scoring average to go up.

One of the goals I set out for myself before the season started was to become an All-Star. Hopefully I’m on the path to reach this goal. I do think that my ability to become an All-Star depends a lot on the success of my team. If your team has a good record and you’re playing great basketball individually, your name will at least be considered. That’s why it’s especially important to get off to a good start as a team and keep improving.

I do play in a smaller market team, which unfortunately often means that a lot of fans across the country aren’t seeing you play as much as other teams/players. It’s just something that comes with the territory. But you have to find ways around it. You have to work extra hard and do your best every single time you are on that court and keep finding ways to help the team win. As a team, I think we are playing well right now, but we still have a lot of work to do.

The 82-game season is mentally and physically though, which is why you do as much as you can over the summer to prepare your body for the grind of the season. You have to look at the big picture and that’s being the best player you can be for 82 games and trying to help your team get to the post-season. I’m in the gym early and I stay late. I get in my extra shots. Each year I try to improve and/or add something to one aspect of my game, whether it’s shooting, passing, post-moves, etc.

I have a goal to become an All-Star. But I can’t control that. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to continue to work hard, play my game and improve. If I make it, I’ll be thrilled. And if I don’t, I’ll be the same hardworking player who will work even harder to chase the goal next year.

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