Despite the Mavericks losing 126-120 to the Oklahoma City Thunder last Saturday, the Mavericks had a myriad of positives to extract from the game. Dallas went on an unprecedented 30-0 run to take the lead late in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma City, but unfortunately still fell.
However, Mavericks rookie big man Dereck Lively II had perhaps the best game of his young NBA career thus far and he has everyone taking notice.
Lively II finished with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and an obscene seven blocks. More importantly, Lively II showcased the ability to score out of the short roll in 4-on-3 scenarios multiple times throughout the game, something we haven’t necessarily seen from him this season as he’s typically opted to pass out of those scenarios.
Mavs center Dereck Lively II showcases skill that'll take his game to the next level
The Mavericks' two superstars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are inevitably going to draw a lot of double teams as can be seen on a nightly basis, so Lively II filling the role as the primary decision maker in the short roll would be huge if he can do it to the degree that he did in the Oklahoma City game.
Lively II went at fellow rookie sensation Chet Holmgren repeatedly off of attacks in the short roll all game. He even posterized Holmgren when attacking out of the short roll one possession, cementing himself as an early candidate for top dunk of the season in Dallas.
Lively II has been crucial as a passer out of 4-on-3 scenarios, but if he continues to be able to attack in space when given the opportunity in these scenarios, then Dallas may have stumbled upon a far more dynamic offensive center than they originally had thought even when they drafted Lively II 12th overall in last year’s NBA Draft.
Lively II will need to add strength to be able to attack out of the short roll against more stout opponents, but he assuredly showcased how savvy he is offensively last Saturday night for someone who is 7-foot-1. The sky is the limit for Lively II as he continues to get better on a game-by-game basis, as he's grown into an indispensable piece for Dallas.
Lively II is proving to be the starting caliber center that Dallas needs, and his combination of skill and size at both ends is proving Nico Harrison and the rest of the Mavericks scouting department to be geniuses for their selection of him in the draft.
We’ll continue to update you with everything concerning Dereck Lively II's development along with how the rest of the Dallas Mavericks are doing, so stay tuned.