On Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks made two season-altering trades to end the trade deadline period. The first of two moves was to acquire Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford. Shortly after that, the Mavericks pulled the trigger on a deal to get former Hornet, P.J. Washington.
Both players were brought in to combat the lack of defense and rebounding that has plagued this team since the beginning of the season. On Saturday, fans would get to see Washington and Gafford for the first time in Mavericks uniforms.
In a game that saw electric action on both ends of the floor for the Mavericks, including multiple highlight plays from Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the newcomers, they would go on to rout the second-seeded Thunder 146-111.
Mavericks center Daniel Gafford proves Jason Kidd may have a tough decision to make
Throughout the game, Gafford had an instant effect in the rebounding department and got open multiple times on lob attempts. Fans couldn't help but notice the defensive jolt when Gafford was on the floor. Gafford finished with one block but deterred a variety of shots at the rim.
After the game, fans naturally questioned whether Dereck Lively II's starting spot was safe after a masterclass game out of Gafford. To be fair, it's only been one game, but head coach Jason Kidd wouldn't be doing this team justice if he wasn't giving the starting spot any thought.
Lively II has missed the last six games with a gruesome broken nose that he suffered in the win over the Orlando Magic. As it currently stands, Lively II doesn't have a set timetable for his return, but it's important to remind fans that in the games that Lively II has been present in, he has been dominant.
The 20-year-old rookie is currently averaging 9.2 points and eight rebounds per game.
However, making a starting case for Gafford is easy after a commanding first game. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in a dominant first performance. Additionally, four of Gafford's nine rebounds came on the offensive end, which created multiple second-chance points for the Mavs.
With Lively II still out with a nose injury, Gafford will likely take over the starting role in the meantime. Kidd won't have a difficult decision to make yet, but once Lively II is healthy he could.
For more updates on Jason Kidd, Daniel Gafford, Dereck Lively II and the Dallas Mavericks, stay plugged in.