Derrick Favors Reminds Avery Johnson of Tim Duncan
Then again, when you make a comparison to Tim Duncan, that's pretty heady stuff.
"He reminds me of Duncan in the way he's coachable,'' the New Jersey coach said in an interview with FanHouse about Favors, taken with the No. 3 overall pick out of Georgia Tech in last month's draft. "Duncan was that way, very coachable, but also very skilled. Duncan came in with the left and the right hand and came in with the ability to shoot the ball. And this kid didn't even go through college as long as Duncan. We're just getting him after his freshman year.''
Johnson knows quite a bit about Duncan, who played four years at Wake Forest before being the top pick in the 1997 draft by San Antonio. Johnson was Duncan's teammate for the first four of his now 13 seasons with the Spurs, including being on hand when Duncan won the first of his four NBA titles in 1999.
Favors and Duncan have in common low-key demeanors, although Favors obviously has a long way to go before he really can draw comparisons to the 12-time All-Star. But Favors, who averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in his one season at Georgia Tech, at least can claim to have put up better overall ACC freshman numbers than Duncan, who averaged 9.8 points and 9.6 rebounds in 1993-94.
"That's an honor and a blessing,'' Favors, who averaged 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds earlier this month in the AirTran Orlando Pro Summer League, said when told Johnson had brought up a similarity to Duncan. "It's just a good experience for me just getting ready for next year. ... (The biggest adjustment to the NBA has been) the strength and the speed of the game.''
While Johnson is willing to be patient, he's expecting great things from Favors, who was named ACC Rookie of the Year..
"We love him and we're thrilled to have him,'' Johnson said of the 6-foot-10, 246-pound Favors. "He's going to be a star. Great body for (19 years old). ... We think we can get him about 10 to 15 more pounds, especially in his upper body and his butt. But we love him. We think he can shoot it, he's athletic, he can play above the rim. He has a nice left-hand and right-hand jump hook. ... We think he has a huge upside. ... He needs to get in the weight room, gain some experience.''
Johnson saw first hand what happened after Duncan, who was just 17 as a Wake Forest freshman, got some experience.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson