2023 NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks dream draft choice falls, Rockets shock at 4

2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama
2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama / Christian Liewig - Corbis/GettyImages
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17. Los Angeles Lakers select Dereck Lively II

The 2023 NBA Draft is loaded with talent, but it lacks depth at center. The Spurs are the only team that will have a shot at Victor Wembanyama, and Dereck Lively II is the next-best pure five on the board. The 7’1 big man has a reported 7’7 wingspan, and he blocked 2.4 shots in 20.6 minutes per game during his lone season at Duke.

Lively’s potential is immense, but he will certainly take time to develop. The 19-year-old averaged 2.7 personal fouls per game, which limited his minutes. He could be an elite defender, rim-protector, and rebounder in the NBA in five years. Lively II was the number two player in his class coming out of high school, but his struggles to stay on the floor for the Blue Devils have dropped him to the mid-to-late first round.

There were signs of improvement as the season went on, and any team in need of a big man could scoop him up in the draft. The Lakers are looking for a long-term answer next to Anthony Davis in the frontcourt, and Dereck Lively II certainly has the potential to become an elite big man.

Will the Lakers keep this pick? They want to win and now with LeBron James leading their roster. Los Angeles may trade it for a veteran or just select a more NBA-ready option with lesser upside. If they are looking long-term, Lively II is an outstanding option.