For the most part of the 2022–2023 NBA season and this offseason, the Dallas Mavericks' situation was clear.
Why a starting center is needed. Dallas made several attempts to resolve this problem by expressing interest in signing and trading for several NBA centers. Dallas expressed interest, but no transfer materialized.
The Mavericks made a blockbuster trade for center Christian Wood just a few weeks after the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Mavericks from the playoffs in the Western Conference Finals.
Wood's time in Dallas might be characterized as lackluster. Though Wood did show flashes of offensive talent, his skills were rarely utilized since head coach Jason Kidd was unable to play Wood for extended periods of time.
In the offseason of last year, the Dallas Mavericks also signed three-year NBA veteran JaVale McGee. Their Mavericks needed McGee's experience at the time, and he was assured a starting position. But this would be a very short-lived arrangement, as McGee would most likely lose his starting position within the first ten games of the season.
McGee's tenure in Dallas was shortened by his incapacity to play regular minutes and serve as the defensive anchor he once was. Many would even go so far as to suggest that McGee's signing was among the worst in the team's history.
Dwight Powell would be forced into the center position once more. His ability to work well with Luka Doncic and fit into Kidd's plan provided him the advantage over a number of other contenders. Still, it was clear that the Mavericks needed a center.
In order to remedy this problem, the Mavericks selected center Dereck Lively II as the No. 12 overall choice in the 2023 NBA Draft. Here are three reasons why our NBA Expert Picks reckons he will be adored and a fan favorite.
3. Making friends off the court
As a child, Lively II had to deal with a lot of problems. He lost his father when he was seven years old, and then his mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma a few years later. These hard times in his childhood helped him become the person he is now.
Like many others, he used this early setback to drive himself to become a better basketball player. He would also learn how to help people in his neighborhood and make their days better.
Lively II's mother was always by his side during his basketball career, even after she was told she had cancer. A lot of people will really like how close he is to his mother all the time.
A lot of people will also love how he treats the game and the fans. Because Lively II is so young, he is also easy to get along with. He's a happy person who will fit right in with the Mavericks' way of life.
2. Looks more of a Mavericks legend
Dereck Lively II is 7 feet 1 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds. And this is just one of the many ways he looks a lot like a Mavericks star.
There were a lot of similarities between Lively II and former Mav Tyson Chandler even before he was picked in the draft. Both Chandler and Lively II have strange body types and play styles that are hard to tell apart. The two of them love to block shots and catch lob passes.
If the Mavericks had a center who could play as well as Chandler did in the 2011 playoffs, they would be right in the running for the Western Conference title. This wouldn't be something you'd expect from Lively II on day one, but it wouldn't be strange to see it in his third or fourth year of work.
In the same way, Chandler and Lively II will have had great guards pass the ball to them. Jason Kidd was the starting point guard for the Mavs during Chandler's amazing run, and his friendship with Chandler was a big reason why the Mavs won the 2011 NBA Finals.
Lively II will use Luka Doncic as an example, just like Kidd and Chandler did. Doncic can do a lot more than Kidd could at that point, but Lively II will need a guard who can run the offense. We might see the Chandler similarity come true as long as Lively II grows and becomes a reliable role player in his first season.
Chandler will help Lively II learn how to do things. They've already worked together during the off-season, and it looks like they will continue to build a strong bond. Chandler will help Lively II grow into a future star as a young center for many years to come.
1. Dereck Lively II will add a sporty touch to Dallas.
Since Lively II is 7 feet 1 inch tall, it's hard not to think that he will bring a huge jump to Dallas. The Mavericks had a 38-44 record last season in large part because they were too one-dimensional. Adding young players and Lively II will change that story.
This team can get out of the "one-dimensionality" talk by adding young athletes.
Lively II's long body will help him catch lobs and make huge dunks. Knowing players like Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic will help Lively II improve his scoring skills. Since both stars will be in the spotlight, Lively II should have a lot of chances to get open down low if he can learn to move off the ball.
Lively II took advantage of some Summer League events at different times. Previous Mavericks center players made it hard for them to take advantage of smaller defenders. With Lively II in the lineup, the Mavs will be able to take advantage of these mismatches down low.
But Lively II's youth could hurt him sometimes, especially since he is still a newbie (as expected). The fact that Lively II had never played professionally before meant that he was often put in tough situations during Summer League. For the Mavericks to be successful in the future, they need to let Lively II play through these growing pains. The mentoring from Tyson Chandler will also help Lively II become a reserve player for the Mavericks.
Dereck Lively II is sure to become a fan favorite for the reasons listed above. As the start of training camp draws near, stay tuned for more summer news.