1. Stud - Dereck Lively II
One of the biggest needs coming into this year's past offseason was finding a center that could make an impact on both sides of the floor, similar to Tyson Chandler.
After his rookie debut, it’s very clear that Dereck Lively II, the No. 12 pick from the 2023 NBA Draft, was the missing piece in the puzzle for the Dallas Mavericks.
Heading into the season opener, all eyes were focused on rookie center, Victor Wembanyama, but that quickly changed after a dominant performance from Lively II.
In his first-ever game as a Maverick, Lively had 16 points, 10 rebounds, and shot 7/8 from the field. The stat line doesn’t show it all though. The 7-foot-1, 19-year-old was diving for loose balls, tipping the ball out for offensive rebounds, and being a defensive leader.
Lively II led the team with a plus/minus of plus 20 throughout the whole game. The center also had multiple alley-oop and put-back dunks during the game as well.
What stuck out the most in his debut was the pick-and-roll connection he has already developed with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Lively II stole the show Wednesday night and proved that he’s capable of making an All-Rookie team.
After the big win for the Mavericks, it’s seemingly clear that Lively II should be the starting center for the team. At the pace he’s developing at, expect Lively II to be a key piece for this team for years to come.