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Georgia Tech's Star Forwards Begin Their NBA Journeys

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Georgia Tech's power players, Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, started their professional careers Thursday by being picked in the NBA Draft. What do they bring to the table that makes them so lucrative at the next level?

The NBA Draft starts tonight at 7 and the future of two Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be decided soon after. Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal have a combined four years of playing time at Georgia Tech and were a 1-2 punch during their one year together under head coach Paul Hewitt during the 2009-2010 season. The tandem represented 36 percent of the team's points and 44 percent of all rebounds. 

Derrick Favors - Power Forward/ Center

Favors is the blue chip of the two Tech players this year and is just the fifth Yellow Jacket to leave after his first season. He follows in the footsteps of Stephon Marbury, Chris Bosh, Javaris Crittenton, and Thaddeus Young. NBA scouts (most likely) love the "One and Done" rule as it allows them to scout players like Favors against higher tier talent. 

What Tech fans saw was potential and the NBA loves to draft on this supposed potential. Favors started off slow but as the second half of the season wore on, fans saw and got what they expected: an absolutely pure talent that improved as the season progressed. Favors came into his own element and played the inside with extreme athleticism. He really was a force to be reckoned with. Now NBA teams want to know if there's any upside and potential for Favors. This is what can make NBA teams nervous or excited about a potential draft pick. Can a 19-year-old hang with the big boys of the NBA from Day 1 or will it take him months or years to develop or will he never mature into an NBA caliber player?  These are the questions that teams are mulling over. After experiencing first-hand the equally high caliber NBA talents of Chris Bosh and Thaddeus Young, Tech fans generally believe Favors is the real deal.

Draft Expectations: Many expect Favors and Kentucky Wildcats center DeMarcus Cousins to battle it out for the New Jersey Nets' third overall pick. Cousins lacks in defense while Favors excels, but Cousins supposedly has a better offensive presence. It's quite a dilemma for any NBA team. However, the fit for Favors in New Jersey feels right as the franchise could combine him with Brook Lopez and recently hired, defensively minded Avery Johnson.

Gani Lawal - Power Forward

Lawal tested the waters last year for the NBA Draft and ultimately decided to come back for his junior season. It proved to be a good move as he was able to develop his overall game and presence for the better, specifically in rebounds per minute and free throw shooting percentage.

Unlike Favors, Lawal has been able to work and improve upon his game in the NCAA. Since his freshman year during the 2007-2008 season, Lawal has faced 23 NBA lottery picks from 13 different schools. If you want more math: that's 20 percent of the NBA Draft picks since 2008. This type of NBA talent competition has only helped Lawal improve.

Draft Expectations:  The Atlanta Hawks invited him for a workout this past week and they have the 24th pick. For Tech fans, it would be quite enjoyable to see Mario West (Signed 2007) and Lawal play with each other. However a more popular prediction seems to be within the ranges of picks No. 29-No. 32: Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Favors and Lawal were the cornerstones for Georgia Tech basketball last year, as illustrated by Bird of the Georgia Tech blog, FromTheRumbleSeat. Whatever happens and wherever they go, the respective teams will pick up productive players who have improved in their abilities and will surely make an impact.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.