Mark Cuban said on Thursday afternoon that the Dallas Mavericks' biggest need this offseason is rim protection.
About eight hours later, the 2023 NBA Draft rolled around, and the Mavericks got one. After Dallas selected Cason Wallace at pick 10, they traded him and Davis Bertans to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 12 overall pick.
Orlando then took Jett Howard with the 11th overall pick, and it's history from there. The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Dereck Lively II with the 12th overall pick, and he was traded to the Mavericks.
Grading the Dallas Mavericks' decision to draft Dereck Lively II
Lively II is a 7'1 big man from Duke, and he averaged 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game in his lone season at Duke. These numbers may seem underwhelming, but he is one of the best rim protectors in the draft, and Dallas needed a new center.
The Mavs now have their center of the future, and they got off of one of the worst contracts in the league.
Lively II was the perfect player to pair with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. He sets great screens, catches lobs, and blocks lots of shots. Dallas hasn't had a true rim protector since Tyson Chandler, and he will now take that role on. Chandler was a player that NBA teams compared to Lively II.
Right away, Lively II will be the best rim protector on the team. They only had one player average more than a block per game last year in Christain Wood (1.1), and he isn't going to be back with Dallas. The next closest is Maxi Kleber with 0.8 blocks per game. Lively II averaged three times that in college (2.4).
Other than protecting the rim and blocking shots, Lively II will catch lobs on offense and potentially improve into a capable shooter. A video surfaced of Lively II drilling 14 straight threes at his pro day, and his shot looked good.
The Mavericks get a B+ for this pick as they finally addressed the glaring need of adding a rim protector. It seemed like they could have traded back a little more for him, but there might not have been any potential trades on the table to do so.
Stay tuned to see what the Mavericks do in free agency and how they decide to build around Doncic and Irving. Adding Lively II into the mix was a great move, but they still need to make more moves to return to being championship contenders.