After working out for the New Jersey Nets on Monday, Derrick Favors planned to head to Manhattan to begin preparing for the NBA draft. Come Friday morning, he's hoping to make the short trip back through the Lincoln Tunnel to be formally introduced as the newest member of the Nets.
With John Wall and Evan Turner expected to be the draft's top two picks, Favors is hoping to hear the Nets call his name at No. 3 on Thursday. NBA sources said New Jersey is considering using its pick on Favors or Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins, both of whom worked out for the team on Monday.
"To go to a new arena, play for a new coach, a new owner, it seems like a good situation for me," Favors said by phone. "I got to go in there and prove to them that I'm their guy. I'm just got to give them all I got in that hour workout, try to impress them and hope they pick me Thursday."
This much is clear: The Nets need a power forward. Yi Jianlian(notes) hasn't developed into a consistent contributor, and the team already has one of the top young centers in the league in Brook Lopez(notes). The Nets could use a small forward like Syracuse's Wesley Johnson, but they also have plenty of salary-cap room to try to address that need in free agency.
Cousins is clearly the more skilled big man, but he has been dogged by questions about his maturity and conditioning. Favors, a 6-foot-10, 246-pound forward who played one season at Georgia Tech, is the more athletic player of the two.
"Favors has tremendous brute strength for a college freshman," one Eastern Conference scout said. "He has the potential to be the next Antonio McDyess(notes). Cousins may have the most basketball ability, skill-wise of any big man in the draft. There are questions about his weight, dedication to being great and coach-ability that make him a risky choice.
"Favors is definitely the safer pick."
Favors has worked out against Cousins in Philadelphia and shared a workout with him in Sacramento. In each Cousins distinguished himself as the more fundamentally skilled player of the two. While NBA teams are enamored by Favors' athleticism, rebounding, and potential, he needs improve his footwork, outside shot and post moves. But he also doesn't turn 19 until July 15.
"He's the best athlete in this draft," another Eastern Conference scout said. "He has a lot of upside. He can rebound, defend and run the floor. His offensive game is developing. But he's a solid kid. I can see why he is regarded so high."
Said a Western Conference scout: "His upside is ridiculous. Whoever gets him is going to have a monster for years."
Favors has worked out for the teams selecting second through fifth in the draft. Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn told reporters that coach Kurt Rambis said Favors "appeared to be out of shape" during his solo workout. A source said Kahn later called Favor's agent Wallace Prather to apologize for the comment. The Sacramento Kings were impressed with Favors' conditioning after he measured just 5 percent body fat and dunked the ball 20 times in 60 seconds during one drill without breaking a sweat.
"I just took it as constructive criticism," Favors said of Kahn's comments. "I just pushed myself in other workouts to get in better shape."
An Atlanta native, Favors figures to be moving out of the South for the first time in his life after the draft. He's hopeful New Jersey is his next home.
"I was one of those guys growing up who watched the draft every time it came on," Favors said. "I used to dream about the day it will be my turn. I really can't wait.
"I'm looking forward to hearing my name called and shaking David Stern's hand. I'm nervous about that part the most."