The Mavs’ Most Important Player Behind Luka

The Mavs’ Most Important Player Behind Luka


We all know the hype surrounding rookies Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren, but Dallas’ rookie Dereck Lively II is quietly on the rise.

19-year-old Lively has arguably been the Mavs’ second-most impactful player behind Luka Doncic as Dallas enjoy a 15-8 start to the season.

Lively was selected as the number 12 overall pick in the 2023 Draft and NBA punters certainly weren’t expecting his transition into the league to go so smoothly.

He was tasked with a big challenge on Tuesday night when he was up against Anthony Davis, but he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

The big man posted an impressive eight points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Lively looked seamless beside Luka and in clutch time came up with a massive block and rebound which helped Dallas to a 127-125 victory over the Lakers.

“Take the age out – he’s a basketball player,” Jason Kidd said of Lively after the win. “He understands how to play the game. He’s very coachable. This was a great test for him on a back-to-back after last night’s game and the minutes and the physicality. Then to turn around going from Jaren Jackson to A.D. (Anthony Davis) and understanding he’s playing against two All-Stars – he’s going through it.

“But again, I think the trust – not just of the coaches but his teammates – if Luka is being double-teamed, he’s also looking for Lively to score or play make. It just shows how important he is to this team but how good he really is.”

This performance came of the back off a monster effort against Memphis on Monday, where Lively recorded 16 rebounds, which marked his seventh-double digit rebounding perfomance.

In 21 games through 2023-24 so far, Lively is averaging nine points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 25.9 minutes.

He is leading the entire league on 73.7 percent shooting from the field and since Thanksgiving is shooting at 80.4 percent.

In the two games he hasn’t participated in, the Mavs have lost, which is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Despite all this, Lively is only ranked seventh on the NBA’s rookie ladder.

This rookie has the potential to absolutely blossom this season and is a dark horse to take out Rookie of the Year.

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