Dereck Lively II
Much like Hawkins, Dereck Lively II was a name heavily linked to the Warriors during the pre-draft process. After an impressive season with the Duke Blue Devils where he averaged 2.3 blocks per game, the 7’1″ center ultimately rose to and then above Golden State’s 19th overall pick.
Even in the week before the draft there was speculation the Warriors may try to acquire a top 10 pick to select Lively, though that ultimately failed to materialize. Instead, he was selected 12th overall with his rights traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Dallas Mavericks.
It’s often a waiting game for young big men, particularly those taken outside the top five in the draft and who are still 19-years-old. Still, if there’s a pair of guards who can make Lively impactful in his rookie season, it’s Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
Whether Lively gets that opportunity is a different question altogether. Dallas are in a weird position where they have a spate of center options, but none of which really jump off the page as stopping Lively from demanding a role if he’s good enough.
The Mavericks were one of the league’s biggest disappointments last season, finishing 11th in the Western Conference despite having an MVP candidate in Doncic and making a play for Irving mid-season. After re-signing the latter and making some shrewd moves in free agency, their one of the teams tipped for a massive spike next season.
Because of their aims to return to the pointy end of the playoffs, it’ll be understandable if head coach Jason Kidd is hesitant to give Lively minutes early next season. He’ll likely prefer the experienced options of Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber, the recently acquired Richaun Holmes, or perhaps even Javale McGee if things get desperate.
Lively was impressive during Summer League, averaging 8.4 points and eight rebounds per game in 23.4 minutes of action. However, he’ll still have his work cut out to surpass the alternative center options at Kidd’s disposal in 2023-24.