Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME PODCAST — In a draft that doesn’t appear to be overflowing with drama, the choice the New Jersey Nets will have to make between talented teen power forwards Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins with the No. 3 pick stands as our the best chance for draft night intrigue.
The Nets have a tough choice to make. After working both players out together Monday, they realize as much:
“I think we all walked out of here going, ‘These are going to be two very fine NBA players going down the road,’ ” Nets director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky told Al Iannazzone of The Record. “What you get with Cousins is a little more power. What you get with Favors is a little more pop. Both will work.”
They can go with Cousins and gamble on perhaps the draft’s biggest gamble — Cousins has earned the reputation as the draft’s most talented prospect regardless of position while also being the most enigmatic prospect in the field. Or they can g with Favors, the person we’ve determined that has the most hidden upside (there’s that word you are going to here a million times more between now and Thursday night).
We got a chance to watch Favors repeatedly during his one and only college season at Georgia Tech. Their arena is across the street from the hideout, so it wasn’t a tough commute. And what we like most about him is that in a draft where power forward is the unquestioned deepest position, Favors stands out among the crowd in three key categories. He has the perfect blend of size (6-foot-10 and 246 pounds), athleticism and growth potential of anyone.
Favors barely touched the ball at Tech and spent much of his year there playing in the shadow of Gani Lawal, another Tech power forward that will come off the draft board in the first round. But it wasn’t because he didn’t have the skills to dominate. It had more to do with a (college) game that allows guards to dominate in systems catered to showcasing a coach’s ability control the action rather than one (in the NBA) that allows the most talented players to exploit their talents within the framework of a specific system.
In that regard, and only that one, Favors reminds us of two other Tech forwards in recent memory that didn’t necessarily dazzle in one college season but have gone on to be much better than expected at the pro level. You know all about Chris Bosh, one of the headliners in the free agent frenzy of 2010 that kicks off officially next week. The other guy that comes to mind is underrated Philadelphia 76ers’ swingman Thaddeus Young, whose showed star potential (when healthy) at times throughout the early stages of his pro career.
Favors has a nice blend of what they both brought to the party at the same stage (heading into the draft). If Favors works as hard to improve his game and become a factor at the NBA level as his Tech predecessors, we’re expecting similar production from him at the big boy level.
Of course, time will tell. That is the one asterisk with all things related to the draft.
But if we’re going to bet on anything, we’re betting on Favors being better than expected.