1. Dereck Lively II
The Dallas Mavericks entered training camp being unsure of who the starting center would be, and although Mavs head coach Jason Kidd still hasn't finalized the starting lineup, rookie Dereck Lively II made a great case for him starting in Friday night's win over the Detroit Pistons.
Lively II finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one block. He formed a beautiful one-two punch with star guard Kyrie Irving, and showcased his full offensive repertoire.
Lively II had four dunks, a push shot from the middle of the paint, and a hook. Dallas doesn't need Lively II to score out of post-ups, and he showed that he can be a pivotal offensive player when needed. The Mavs just need him to be efficient, compliment their star guard duo, and accept whatever role Dallas gives him.
So far, he has done all of those things and surpassed expectations.
Lively II is also proving that he can be a defensive anchor for Dallas, as he is already the best shot blocker on the team and deters all shots in the paint. His presence strikes fear in opposing players as they attack the rim, and his defense will continue to progress as he improves at rotating.
Lively II and the Mavericks open up the regular season against Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs on October 25, and we'll have you covered with all the latest.