Grading every Dallas Mavericks player ahead of 2024 NBA Playoffs

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks
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9. Dereck Lively II

On draft day, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that the team's No. 1 need was a rim protector. The Mavericks tanked their final two games of the regular season to keep their first-round pick, and their once-costly decision to do this ended up paying off massively.

Dallas traded back from the No. 10 pick to the No. 12 pick and drafted Dereck Lively II from Duke.

Lively II immediately became a game-changer on both ends of the floor for Dallas and his chemistry with Luka Doncic was immediate. Dallas now has one of the deadliest pick-and-roll games in the NBA, and Lively II and Doncic are at the head of that.

This season for Dallas, Lively II averaged 8.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 74.7 percent from the floor. Lively II was a key piece for the Mavs all season long and was effective as both a starter and off the bench (after the Mavs traded for Daniel Gafford).

Heading into the NBA Playoffs, Lively II has been battling a knee sprain that he suffered against the Houston Rockets at the end of March, but all signs are pointing to him playing. He was a full participant in practice this week and seems like he should make his return to the lineup tonight.

While Lively II was great when he was on the floor, he did miss 27 games due to various injuries. Lively II gets an A- for the year due to missing around a third of the year with injuries.

Injuries caused him to miss 27 games. Dereck Lively II. D Live grade. A-. Outstanding on both ends of the floor and an elite lob catcher