By Trae Williams
The new big man in the Big D, introducing the 12th overall pick of the NBA Draft, Dereck Lively II, a 7-foot-1 center from Duke.
According to Mark Cuban on Thursday afternoon, rim protection is the Mavericks’ most important summer necessity. About eight hours later, the 2023 NBA Draft rolled around, and the Mavericks got one.
After Dallas selected Cason Wallace at pick 10, they traded him and Davis Bertans to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 12 overall pick. The Thunder drafted Dereck Lively II, thus sending him to Dallas.
During his lone season at Duke, he averaged 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. These stats might sound lackluster, but Dallas needed a new center, and he was one of the top rim protectors available. With the acquisition of their assumed big of the future, the Mavs were able to escape from one of the worst contracts in the league.
Lively is the perfect player to team up with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. He sets excellent screens, grabs lobs, and blocks many shots. Since Tyson Chandler, Dallas has yet to have a natural rim protector and will now fill that role.
Lively will be the team’s top rim protector immediately. Christain Wood, the lone player who averaged more than a block per game (1.1) for Dallas last season, won’t return. Maxi Kleber, with 0.8 blocks per game, is the next closest. Lively’s average in college was three times higher (2.4).
He also has the ability to catch lobs on offense and develop into a competent shooter in addition to blocking shots and protecting the rim. During Lively’s pro day, he made 14 straight 3s.
My grade for this pick is an A+, and Lively was my No. 1 option for the Mavericks. He fixes their center and defensive problems. They made an excellent decision by bringing Lively into the mix, but they still need to make more moves if they want to be contenders for the championship.