2. Rookie of the Year - Dereck Lively II
No one saw this one coming before the season began. Dallas rookie, Dereck Lively II, has been far better than expected for the Mavericks. After playing just one season at Duke, the common consensus was that Lively II would take some time to adjust to the NBA.
However, the former Blue Devil hit the ground running. In Lively II's first professional game, he recorded a double-double. After a little over a month, Lively II holds averages of 9.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game.
The Dallas big man continues to improve. His points, rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and usage rate have all increased from November to December.
Despite entering the league relatively raw, Lively II has played to his strengths to become the best version of himself. He's brought an entirely new dimension to the Dallas roster.
After cycling through centers in recent years, the Mavs have seemingly found their franchise big man. At 19 years old, Lively II already leads the NBA in field goal percentage. And in 25.9 minutes per game, Lively II ranks in the top 30 in rebounds and blocks.
While Lively II might be a long shot to bring home the Rookie of the Year award. It's to no fault of his own. The 2023 NBA Draft Class has been great and Lively II is one of many rookies producing at a high level.