1 Worst-case, 1 realistic, 1 dream player comparison for Mavericks' Dereck Lively

Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II
Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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The Dallas Mavericks crushed the 2023 NBA Draft. It started by trading back from ten to 12 to dump Davis Bertans’ contract on the Thunder. Dallas still selected their preferred target in former Duke center Dereck Lively II. The Mavericks surprisingly jumped back into the first round to take Olivier-Maxence Prosper at 24 for the price of Richaun Holmes' contract from the Kings.

Walking away with two first-round picks, a veteran big man hungry to prove he belongs in the rotation, and enough cap space to use the full mid-level exception was massive for the Mavericks. They still have work to do, including re-signing Kyrie Irving, but this was a strong start to a crucial offseason in Dallas.

Lively II is a talented big man that continues to improve. The Mavs desperately needed rebounding and rim protection help. He was the second-best shot blocker in this class behind top pick Victor Wembanyama. The 19-year-old is excited to play for the Mavericks, but what can fans expect from their new center.

Worst-case comparison for Dallas Mavericks big man Dereck Lively: Erick Dampier

MFFLs may not love to hear this one, but their numbers are quite similar when looking at their first college season. Dampier averaged significantly more points and rebounds per game, but their assists, steals, and blocks were nearly identical. The longtime Maverick did play 2.8 more minutes per game as they both had a strength of schedule in the 7.4 range per Sports Reference.

Dampier played three seasons at Mississippi State before being the tenth pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was primarily a starter during his seven years in Golden State before signing a seven-year deal with Dallas that is one of the worst contracts in NBA history. The 6’11 big man was overpaid, but he continued to rebound and protect the rim until 2010 when he was traded to the Bobcats for Tyson Chandler.

The Dallas Mavericks are hoping Dereck Lively can turn into more. Erick Dampier averaged 7.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 24.3 minutes per game during his 16-year NBA career. Dallas wants that longevity out of the 19-year-old but with a bit more production. At worst, he should be Dampier, but what is a more realistic comparison?