1 Question for every Dallas Mavericks player as countdown to NBA Playoffs begins

Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages
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11. Dereck Lively II

Will Dereck Lively II prove that he can defend floor-stretching bigs, and if he can't how will that affect his role?

One of the Dallas Mavericks' biggest struggles this season has been defending bigs who can stretch the floor. Both of Dallas' centers, Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II, are known for their paint defense and neither big is an outstanding defender in space.

Lively II is a better defender in space than Gafford, but Lively II is likely on a shorter leash in this way due to Gafford being the starter. Head coach Jason Kidd often elects to go small ball with Maxi Kleber at center when the other team has a center who can stretch the floor, and Lively II could have a minimal role depending on who the Mavs play if Kidd doesn't trust him as a defender on the perimeter.

The playoffs are a completely different game, and due to Kleber's playoff experience and versatility, he may end up playing more than Lively II depending on the matchup.

Lively II has not been an awful defender in space, but his occasional late closeouts on shooters could be a concern when every game matters in the playoffs.

Lively II is too good at other things to not play just due to a matchup but Kidd will be the one to determine what his role will look like next month.