Because this season cannot be measured by wins and losses, I have decided it’s beneficial to focus in on key match ups this year. As this has been dubbed a “season of discovery”, this helps us judge improvement as the season progresses. By doing so we won’t get as disappointed when we lose as many games as we could lose. The match up for the Utah Jazz game tonight against the Mavericks that we should focus on is:
Derrick Favors vs Dirk Nowitzki
Tonight is one of the worst matchups Derrick has all year. Not only is Derrick facing an absolute hall-of-fame player in Dirk, he is facing one of the best stretch 4’s ever. The key to this game will be Derrick’s defense on Dirk, which is a very difficult task.
Dirk Nowitzki is currently the 17th ranked player in the NBA in point per possession. This is due to Dirk being elite in essentially every offensive situation. From 3-point land Dirk is shooting 47.6% on spot up situations, 45.5% in pick and roll situations, and 50% in isolations.
This will be a huge concern, as Derrick has always struggled against stretch 4’s. This year Derrick is allowing his opponents to shoot 42.9% from 3 overall and 45.5 in spot up situations. Derrick is really going to need to use his athletic abilities to run Dirk off the 3-point line. If Derrick can force Dirk to get in the lane he should be able to contain him more effectively.
Dirk is old and has lost a lot of his athletic abilities. Derrick needs to use that against him. Derrick has run for a total of 31.4 miles during his time on the court this season. That is 2nd most among bigs, and 10th in the league! Derrick needs to run like crazy on offense to tire Dirk. Doing so could lead to Dirk wearing out on the offensive end, which I think is Derrick best bet.
If Derrick cannot contain Dirk, we may see a lot of him at center with Marvin playing the stretch 4. Either way this will be a huge learning experience for Derrick, as he has never started a game against Dirk.