Veteran Derrick Favors embraces new leadership role in OKC


Al Horford’s commerce in Boston has left a veteran leadership vacuum in Oklahoma City.

The return of the center Mike Muscala will help bring back some of the experienced leadership from last season, but Sam presti made another move this offseason to push him over.

Also filling the gap in the center-left on the pitch by Horford, the OKC Thunder acquired the veteran Derrick favors from Utah in a move that has helped the Jazz ease their financial burden.

An 11-year-old veteran, Favors has a lot of field experience he can bring, but he’s also seen a lot of guys leading off the field, something he hopes to replicate for a young core in the Thunder this season.

“I was once the young player on the team and I had vets around me who helped me out,” Favors said on Thunder Media Day on Monday. “And over the years as I get older there are always younger players coming in and then as an older player you kind of gravitate towards the younger one, help them out.

“It’s kind of something I’ve never been in this position before, but it’s kind of something that excites me.”

Favors said he’s always drawn to the youngsters from his previous teams anyway, so he’s excited to join the youngest team in the NBA.

“I want to be with younger guys because they’re kind of having fun,” he said. “They kind of keep me young. At the same time, with the trends and the music and all that stuff, it’s fun.

The move to Oklahoma City could come as a shock to the system for some, as Favors left a Western Conference contender in Utah for the team expected to have the worst league record.

And while Favors admitted it was a bit shocking at first, OKC’s reputation for doing well by its veterans made things easier. What’s more, Favors also said he didn’t want to be a player who was keen on forcing a move because that’s not the person he said he wanted to be.

“I think if you find yourself in a situation like this and you do well by the team, by the organization, you are a professional, you do the right things, then I think they will help you.” , Favors said. “Also, as you can see by Al Horford and Chris Paul, obviously.

“You’re just doing well. Come in, do your job, be a professional, be a good teammate, be a good player. When you are in the field, just try to be positive and not negative, and good things will happen for you.

As long as he’s in Oklahoma City, the Thunder will be hoping for a similar level of production with Favors he posted during his brief stint in New Orleans.

Favors recorded a career-high 9.8 rebounds per game with the Pelicans, while also contributing 9.0 points, 1.6 assists and 0.9 points per game.

Current Thunder player Kenrich williams actually played with Favors during his time in New Orleans, and Williams said he was excited when he heard he would be reuniting with the former Georgia Tech star again.

“Good guy. A real standing guy,” Williams said Monday. “He was great for us when I played in New Orleans. He was a great leader. Definitely led by example.

“I think for this team and for the younger ones on the team, he’s a good person to admire. No admiration for the way he plays, but as a professional he is one of the best in the field.

Despite low expectations heading into the 2021-22 season, Favors acknowledged that the Thunder have some nice young pieces in guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexandre, Lu Dort and Darius bazley.

Favors said he sees his job as advising them throughout the season and trying to pass on any experience he can while he is a member of the Thunder.

“They are talented, they are just young,” he said. “You have to go through the learning pains and the growing pains, and something I can add to that is just the experience because I was in them years ago when I was on a team and that we were rebuilding, I didn’t win a lot of games, but we had talent.

“I just want to help them as much as I can, as long as I’m here. I just want to help these guys as much as I can and be that leader, that voice for them that they need whenever they need to ask questions or get through a long season, there are a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes players need someone to talk to who they can relate to, and just be that for them.

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