1 Current NBA comparison for every Dallas Mavericks rookie this season

The Dallas Mavericks have a solid group of rookies heading into next year, so let's discuss a current NBA comparison for each one.

Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II, Olivier-Maxence Prosper
Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II, Olivier-Maxence Prosper / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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Dereck Lively II pro comparison: Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets

Dereck Lively II started his career at Duke as a highly regarded prospect. He averaged 14.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game as a senior in High School. According to ESPN, Lively II was the top recruit in the Class of 2022.

While playing for the Blue Devils, Lively II only averaged 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game. Although Lively II hasn't posted gaudy stats in his amateur career, his NBA intrigue blossomed due to his combination of size and athleticism.

Lively II stands at 7-foot-1, has a 7-foot-7 wingspan, and weighs 230 lbs. And unlike many centers, the 12th overall selection has the foot speed to keep up with guards and the length to defend all front-court players.

As for Lively II's NBA comparison, that player would be Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton.

Claxton entered the NBA after two seasons at Georgia Tech, where he held averages of 8.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He began his NBA career with a raw offensive game but with the ability to alter the game with his athleticism, especially on defense.

The former Yellow Jacket went from a project player as a rookie to a Defensive Player of the Year candidate by year four at only 23 years old.

Like Claxton, Lively II has a great frame for an NBA center. Although Lively II's build is more similar to Minnesota big man Rudy Gobert, Lively II is a more fluid athlete, akin to Claxton.

Where Claxton makes his mark is on the defensive end. This past season, he was an advanced stats darling on defense. Claxton finished top-seven in block percentage, defensive win shares, and defensive box plus/minus.

Lively II certainly has the potential to be a defensive playmaker sooner, rather than later. Similar to Claxton, his offensive game will typically consist of dunks and put-backs, but averaging a couple of assists per game isn't out of the question.

With increased time this past season, Claxton showed improved passing chops. He averaged 1.9 assists per game despite typically operating as a roll man or roaming the paint in the dunker spot.

Perhaps what makes Lively II most like Claxton is his ability to defend guards in space and rotate quickly as a help defender.

If Lively II is switched on a guard, he has the ability to move his feet and keep up with quicker guards. Even if a guard gets past Lively II in an isolation situation, he has the uncanny ability to pursue and block shots from behind.

As for his rotation ability, Claxton is a fantastic last line of defense. The same goes for Lively II. He was continuously tasked with playing cleanup man on defense at Duke.

For a majority of the time, Lively II shared the court with fellow seven-footer Kyle Filipowski, who didn't have the foot speed to keep up with quicker forwards. Lively II made an effort to rotate to the rim and play help defense whenever his teammates were beaten off the dribble.

Historical Comparison: Tyson Chandler