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9/9: Derrick Favors

The penultimate player on our 9 players, 9 days series is Georgia Tech PF/C, Derrick Favors. More on the 18-year-old big man after the jump.
Age: 19 (in July)
Height: 6'10"
Weights: 246 lbs.

Yesterday, I talked at length about why this spot isn't occupied by Evan Turner, today we're going to talk about why Derrick Favors is here. To put it simply, I believe his ceiling is an Amare Stoudemire who not only cares about defense and rebounding, but excels on that side of the floor as well. A guy who can be the weak-side shot blocker, with the athleticism to shut down the pick-and-roll and the strength to hold his own in post defense. I see his floor as a (much) more athletic version of Al Horford. Anywhere in the middle there is an excellent building block.

I have to admit, fit plays into this ranking for me, but not in the way you'd expect. The Sixers have Brand, they have Speights, they have Dalembert. If you asked most people what the biggest position of need is in Philly, they'd say shooting guard. When I talk about Favors fitting it has more to do with Jrue. Favors is exactly what Jrue needs. A big guy who's not only an elite athlete, capable of starting the break with his defense, then running the floor and finishing with authority, he's also got excellent hands, nice touch on the inside, the explosiveness to finish over guys and the toughness to finish through contact. On the defensive side, Favors is the kind of guy who covers up mistakes, the kind of guy who can not only hedge and recover on the pick-and-roll, but can also switch in certain circumstances and trap aggressively. With Jrue and Iguodala on the perimeter and Favors down low, you can cover for one or two mediocre defenders on the floor.

Short term, if you get Favors you start him immediately. I don't really care if you trade or bench Dalembert or bench Brand to open the spot up, but you get this kid on the floor for 30+ minutes/game immediately. He needs to start working with Jrue and Iguodala, feeding off their playmaking to build his confidence early. There are going to be plenty of bumps along the way, Favors isn't nearly a finished product, especially on the offensive side, but he needs minutes, reps and the confidence that comes from the team believing in him to reach his potential. I believe Favors is the type of guy that can be turned into an All Star by the type of point guard play I'm expecting from Jrue. Still, if a team relying on youth at two key positions is going to make the playoffs, it's not going to be on the back of its offense. This team will need to defend at an extremely high level to have any success in the upcoming season.

Long term, and this is really what it comes down to for me, the Sixers would have a 20-year-old point guard who projects to be very, very good on both ends of the floor, and a big man who could be dominant on both ends at 19. That is a bright, bright future.

One final word. Over the past several years, really since high school players started declaring for the draft, the NBA has become obsessed with athleticism. The athlete has been chosen over the more skilled player time and time again, with mixed results, at best. There's a reason for that. There's a reason why size matters. It's because when you're talking about stars, and I mean real superstars, they all have more than the requisite size and athleticism to play their positions. They have much more than that, but the athleticism, with rare exception, isn't optional. Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Tim Duncan, Shaq...you can go right down the line. They were all exceptional athletes. When we're talking about the number two pick. Maybe a once-per-decade stroke of luck, I'm going to have a hard, hard time passing up on a big with Favors' ceiling. An especially hard time when I believe the core of our team (Iguodala and Jrue) is perfectly tailored to help him reach his full potential.

Of course, if the Sixers do luck out and wind up with the number two pick, I reserve the right to change my mind, again. We'll know in less than 48 hours, now.

9. Ed Davis
8. Cole Aldrich
7. Ekpe Udoh
6. Al-Farouq Aminu
5. Wesley Johnson
4. DeMarcus Cousins
3. Evan Turner
2. Derrick Favors
1. Coming tomorrow (I wonder who it could be).

Thoughts in the comments, as usual.