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How Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving surprised Dereck Lively II in 2023-24 season

Dereck Lively II has made a significant impact with the Mavericks during the 2023-24 season.

DALLAS — Dereck Lively II completed Thursday’s shoot-around by ending on a made corner three-pointer. The Dallas Mavericks rookie is known for his incredible dunking ability and impressive rim-protecting prowess. Lively, however, is working on a number of different areas of his game as he continues to improve.

After sinking that three-point shot, Lively took some time to speak with reporters. The primary goal is of course to win a championship, but I asked Lively what his individual goals are as the 2023-24 season winds down.

“Just expand my game, just got to become a better player,” Lively said. “Try to be able to be more comfortable when I put the ball on the ground, shooting, when it comes to just defensive aspects. Just try to learn when it comes to the game. There’s a lot of things that I haven’t learned. There’s a lot of things I’m learning. Just trying to be able to perfect those and master those.”

Lively is willing to learn. He’s already performed well as a rookie who just recently turned 20 years old. Lively is currently averaging 9.1 points per outing on 75.3 percent field goal shooting to go along with 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

It’s been a successful first campaign in the NBA. Still, Dereck Lively II has aspirations of growing in his all-around game moving forward with the Mavericks.

Lively’s potential is immense

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) scores against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at United Center.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been a perfect season for the 20-year-old. One element he’s needed to adjust to are calls from referees, something he explained when I asked what his primary challenge has been in his first NBA season.

“Calls,” Lively responded. “Just the little rookie stuff that you gotta deal with in the NBA. People are always going to look at you… They’re going to give the older players the benefit of the doubt. Just being able to know that I gotta be sound in my defensive principles. I gotta be more sound when it comes to knowing that the refs are looking at every little detail that I do.”

Of course, playing with superstars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving has helped Lively. Their positive impact on the Mavs is undeniable. However, has anything surprised Lively about playing with two of the best players in today’s NBA?

“I didn’t know I was going to have a connection with them like this,” Lively said of Doncic and Irving. “Just having this connection allows all of us to play more free. Allows us to trust one another. Trust the pass, trust the possession and trust that in big time moments we can get the ball to two to three players and know that they are either going to make the right play or finish the bucket.”

What does Dereck Lively II’s NBA future with Mavericks have in store?

NBA Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II
© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Lively is already playing an important role for the Mavs. Head coach Jason Kidd previously made an eye-opening prediction about Lively’s future.

“This is D-Live’s (Lively) first year, he’s gonna play, you know, 15-20 years in this league,” Kidd said on March 6. “He’s going to be able to carry that torch of being able to lead. I think he’s gonna be one of the best leaders that the Mavs have had when it’s all said and done.”

That is indeed attention-catching praise without question. Kidd and the Mavericks clearly have confidence in Dereck Lively II.

Joey Mistretta_headshot

About the Author

Joey Mistretta is a Dallas Mavericks beat reporter and lead MLB editor for ClutchPoints. He is originally from a small town in Southern California. Mistretta graduated college with a degree in broadcast journalism from Biola University.

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