Dereck Lively II is arguably the Mavs' most intriguing young prospect right now. The 19-year-old rookie is already getting acclimated in training camp with Dallas, as Jason Kidd is running him along with Olivier-Maxence Prosper in the starting lineup to start training camp.
Now obviously things can change, and Dallas will definitely sift through a ton of various different lineups throughout preseason and training camp after Jason Kidd recently alluded to the last two spots in the starting lineup are "up for grabs."
3 things Mavericks rookie Dereck Lively II must improve to reach his ceiling
Despite nothing being finalized though, Dereck Lively II is already making an impressive start to his Dallas Mavericks career and has been steadily improving since the end of the NBA Summer League, per head coach Jason Kidd.
Lively II has a huge ceiling, and if he can continue to make progress at this rate throughout the course of his development, he'll be one of the premiere centers in the league going forward.
Here are 3 things Dereck Lively II must improve to reach his ceiling.
3. Rebounding and Defense
You might be asking why rebounding and defense are on this list when they are two categories in which the 7-foot-1 rookie is projected to do very well. Lively II epitomizes 'big skill', and is insanely mobile for his frame. Despite this, the rookie will need to improve upon his defensive and rebounding awareness.
There were plenty of instances in this past year's NBA Summer League where Lively II would try to overcompensate with length and athleticism to get rebounds, and he'd in turn, be left in a position where his man had fronted him already, causing him to foul.
Lively II will need to work harder against bigger-bodied centers on the glass, especially at the NBA level. Athleticism and size will only go so far against the strength of most starting-caliber NBA centers, and if Lively II is going to be in as prominent of a role as Jason Kidd is potentially forecasting for him, he'll need to continue to add strength and improve his technique when boxing out.
Lively II's shot-blocking and mobility on defense were extremely encouraging performance markers for Lively II's continued development as a rim protector this past NBA Summer League in July. However, he was periodically caught out of position within Dallas' defensive rotations and had trouble defending opposing bigs in certain one-on-one scenarios.
Lively II luckily has the one of most praised centers in Dallas Mavericks history, Tyson Chandler, aiding in his development. Chandler worked with Lively II throughout Summer League as well as training camp, and he obviously knows a thing or two about rebounding and defense.
Chandler and Lively II have already built up a pretty good relationship in their short time getting to know each other, so if Lively II continues to be a sponge to Chandler's advice, he'll be a complete defensive player in no time.