This young talent makes Mavericks a force for years to come (and it's not Luka)

Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II
Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

With making two Western Conference Finals and an NBA Finals in a three-year span, a lot would say the Dallas Mavericks will be a force for years to come with their superstar leader Luka Doncic and sidekick Kyrie Irving on the team. To make the Mavs stronger, Klay Thompson is now a Maverick.

Even with talented big three, the young core of the Mavs will also help them for years to be a force in a tight Western Conference.

One of those players on the Mavs is coming off his rookie season and was a huge key to the success for the Mavs in making the 2024 Finals coming off the bench.

Dereck Lively II makes Mavericks an elite force for years to come

When the Mavs completed a trade to acquire the former 12th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft Dereck Lively II with the Thunder, most didn't know just how well Lively II would fit in Dallas right away. Last season, Lively II exceeded expectations and will be a key player on the team for years to come.

Lively II played in 55 games in the regular season and averaged 8.8 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, and had an impressive 75 percent field goal shooting percentage. For a rookie, Lively II stood out on the Mavs roster. But, in the playoffs is when Lively II shined.

In 21 games coming off the bench in the 2024 Playoffs, Lively II averaged 7.9 points per game, which was the sixth highest among the Mavs. Lively II averaged the second most rebounds on the team with 7.4, and was tied for second in blocked shots on the team with one per game.

Lively II's strength and toughness were never in doubt during the playoffs as his mother passed away before the Playoffs started, which could've deflated his game. Instead, Lively II responded by playing an important role on the Mavs' team.

Lively II also wasn't afraid to speak his mind about the media's bias against the Mavs prior to the Western Conference Finals against the Timberwolves. Lively II responded to the task by being the Timberwolves' kryptonite and helping the Mavs dominate against the Timberwolves to advance to the Finals. Lively II's game even caught the eyes of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal and how he's a perfect fit to Doncic and Irving.

There's no doubt that Lively II has unbelievable potential in Big D. His toughness, game, desire to win, and attention from an NBA Legend can't go without notice. With an impressive rookie season which led into the Playoffs, some might speculate Lievely II can be a full-time starter next season and take his game to another level.

His rebounding, defense, and basketball IQ all stand out, and he'll be a key piece in Dallas for years to come. Lively II plays like a seasoned veteran, and he is already showing that he'll be a star in the NBA for years to come.