2023 NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks land difference-maker, Victor Wembanyama heads East

2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama
2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama / Aurelien Meunier/GettyImages
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17. Los Angeles Lakers select Dereck Lively II

Lively II was the number two player in the 2022 high school class, but he also struggled mightily in his lone season at Duke. The 18-year-old averaged 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2.4 blocks in just 20.6 minutes per game. He shot 65.8 percent from the field and 60.0 percent on his free throws. Lively II did attempt 13 3-pointers this season but made just two.

He is a 7’1 center with a 7’6 wingspan that has massive defensive potential. It shined through late in the season as Lively II averaged over seven rebounds and three blocks in 26 minutes each night over the final 15 games.

This class is notorious light on true point guards and centers. Lively II is likely the second center off the board after Victor Wembanyama, and his limited offensive game could easily be overlooked by any team that is desperate for a big man.

The Los Angeles Lakers are searching for a long-term frontcourt partner for Anthony Davis. The eight-time All-Star prefers playing the four, and Dercek Lively II could offer LA a strong rebounder and rim protector with massive upside. The Lakers have tried several options since acquiring AD, and fans should not be surprised to see them select a big man here.