The NBA releases what they call the Rookie Ladder each week, a ranking of the top five rookies in the NBA at the moment. It won’t surprise you who took the top spot in the first two weeks—a certain French superstar down the road in San Antonio.
But Dallas Mavericks fans will be delighted to see that rookie Dereck Lively II vaulted into the conversation in week two. Lively jumped into the fifth spot on the ladder with his stellar play in the second week of the season.
Lively has developed incredible chemistry with Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, emerging as a lob threat in the lane and a put-back machine. Not only that, Lively has shown he can use his size, length, and athleticism to cause problems for opponents on the defensive end. Despite the fact that he’s still learning NBA defensive schemes and catching up to the size and skill of professional players, Lively is still making an impact on both ends of the floor.
Lively is currently averaging 8.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. He’s shooting 70 percent from the field. That’s pretty good for a teenager only a few weeks into his professional career. He’s impressed former Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, who said, “He reminds me of myself.”
Most encouraging in those stats is the assist numbers. Lively has shown impressive passing skills in the short roll, and that passing should just get better as he gets more familiar with the NBA.
Lively might fall out of the top five next week, due to missing a game, but he’ll likely hover in the top five all year. Rookies will have ups and downs their first year, and that applies more so to rookie big men. But Lively has already shown he can thrive in the NBA, and it’ll just be a matter of time before he plays this well with season-long consistency.