The New Orleans Pelicans have rallied around their soft spoken center, whose veteran presence has helped the young team through some tough times.
Walk into any New Orleans Pelicans’ practice and you may not even know Derrick Favors is there. If not for his 6’10, 265 pound frame he would get lost in the sea of chatter and joke telling among his teammates. Coach Alvin Gentry joked in January that Favors had only spoken his 31st and 32nd word to him since the team acquired the center via trade back in July, but Favors presence has been felt by the young New Orleans Pelicans.
What Favors may lack vocally, he makes up for with impact on the team. Back in November when Favors had to deal with the devastating and unexpected loss of his Mom, the Pelicans team faltered greatly in his absence. During the 13-game stretch he missed due to injury and his mother’s passing, the Pelicans went 3-10, giving up an average of 118 points per game. That stretch is partially what led to the New Orleans Pelicans being near the bottom of the league in points allowed.
Ever since his return the Pelicans have shown marked improvement. In the 32 games he has played since then, the team is 19-13 and winners of seven of their last 10. He also boasts the highest defensive rating of any Pelican on the roster who has played more than 20 games this season. Most importantly, he gives stability to a vital position on the team.
Jaxson Hayes may one day be the future at center for the Pelicans. His raw athleticism and anger at the rim on every dunk attempt is as exciting as it gets in the NBA. But he is surely not the short term solution. He is a 19-year-old rookie and often plays like one. Not his fault, it’s just what happens in the NBA. Favors is the kind of veteran presence needed on a young team. The team here at Pelican Debrief recently wrote about how the veteran stability of a guy like J.J. Redick has steered the team through turbulent times early in the season. Favors has most certainly done the same thing.
Derrick Favors may not be outspoken or flashy, but he is exactly what the New Orleans Pelicans need right now: a strong minded, veteran defensive anchor in the middle. And while that might not get him the national attention and prestige he deserves, always remember that actions speak louder than words.