In the past, the Utah Jazz have had success in their frontcourt with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors playing together. But so far this season, that pairing has not been working.
While the two have had a positive net rating each season they’ve played alongside each other thus far, the duo has not performed well together to start this campaign.
As suggested during a recent episode of The Ringer’s podcast The Corner Three, it’s unlikely that the Jazz will keep their frontcourt the way it is now. Through the first 10 games of the season, their team has been outscored by 9.6 points per 100 possessions when Favors is on the court with Gobert.
Gobert has averaged 9.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per 36 minutes when he has been on the court with Favors so far this season. But when Favors is not on the floor, Gobert has averaged 20.1 points and 15.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. His scoring has more than doubled in lineups that do not feature Favors next to him in the frontcourt, and their spacing together has looked awkward at best.
Favors, meanwhile, has put up 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes when he has played with Gobert. But during his minutes without Gobert next to him, Favors has averaged 21.9 points and 13.8 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The lineup that has worked best for Utah features Gobert alongside Jae Crowder rather than Favors. The group is rounded out by Joe Ingles on the wing with a backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio.
This five-man group has outscored opponents by 21.8 points per 100 possessions. But when Favors has played instead of Crowder, the Jazz have been outscored by 9.4 points per 100 possessions. Head coach Quin Snyder has played the group with Crowder for 84 minutes and the one with Favors for 65 minutes. Considering the drastically different results, perhaps the Jazz should go with Crowder more often.
Despite these issues, Favors has started all nine games that he has played so far this season. Crowder has appeared in the starting lineup just once, in a nine-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Favors missed this game due to left knee soreness.
Andy Bailey recently wrote about one reason why Coach Snyder might be willing to keep starting Favors over Crowder (via SLC Dunk):
“Favors has been a loyal soldier as his role has diminished over the years. But if it’s reduced much more, the natural inclination for a player making almost $20 million a year might be a touch of wanderlust.”
Favors has looked far more effective when joined by Alec Burks in the second unit. When both players have been on the court, their team has outscored opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions. That adds legitimate value, especially considering they may have found a solid first unit.
The difference for Gobert and Favors when they are given their own opportunities to shine is one worth monitoring as the season progresses.