Derrick Favors is the most promising asset headed to the Utah Jazz in the team's Deron Williams trade, which went down on Wednesday. The New Jersey Nets' 19-year-old rookie is the youngest player in the NBA, and despite just modest success so far this season the reviews have been strong. He was the No. 3 pick of the 2010 NBA Draft precisely because of his potential and work ethic, and while the production has been slow to come, nothing has diminished his promise.
It, however, might be a slow rise for Favors and, thus, the Jazz. Favors projects as something between Josh Smith and Dwight Howard (though probably not as incredible as the latter, and possibly not even as good as the former). Favors' potential is in being a defensive stopper, an anchor that controls one side of the floor and who can finish well and maybe pick up a short jumper or passing skills on offense.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, defense is the most difficult factor to learn in the NBA. That Favors is so young, with only a season of college and a few months of Avery Johnson's (loud, throaty) direction in hand, extends the learning curve outward. Few doubt Favors will be really good at some point, but as the Nets obviously knew, "some point" is deep enough into the horizon that the franchise who develops him has to plan accordingly.
Mikhail Prokhorov famously wanted his Nets to make a statement now. That's why Favors was on the table for Carmelo Anthony (a lesser player but bigger name than Williams), and that's why the Nets so readily dealt him. It also indicates that the Jazz are quietly slipping into rebuilding mode, and that either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap -- both on long-term contracts -- could be on their way out to make room for Favors.