Certainly, it has been Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kyrie Irving and Grant Williams leading the way for the Mavericks. They are the four leading scorers on the team, but the quartet has received some tremendous help from Lively on both ends of the court.
Lively had it all working on Wednesday, too.
He produced seven points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block in a 114-105 win over the Chicago Bulls. He is just the second rookie in team history to record six or more assists in a game as a center (Sean Rooks, 1992-93).
Mavericks coach Jason Kidd likes what Lively has provided.
He wants to do the right thing. He wants to learn. He wants to help his team win. It’s not running a play for him. It’s about doing the little things. He understands Luka, Kai and his teammates are going to find him on the roll. Again, his IQ is high… Getting the offensive rebound. A lot of times, those guys are looking to score, and he found (his teammates). He did that a lot tonight.
Lively has often played the right way thus far and has provided a spark to the team. He provides an interior presence and can affect games on either end of the floor. He also flashed his potential as a facilitator by getting others involved versus the Bulls.
@DereckLively was FANTASTIC last night. His defense and rebounding were spectacular, but it was his passing that stole the show.
The rookie recorded 6 assists, consistently finding teammates off rolls to the rim and offensive rebounds.
— The Mavs Blog (@TheMavsBlog) November 2, 2023
The early display by Lively has drawn some attention.
He is averaging 8.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one block on 78.9% shooting from the field. He produced a double-double on Oct. 25 with 16 points and 10 rebounds to become the ninth player with at least 15 points and 10 rebounds in a debut since 2000.
With the Mavericks’ hot start, Lively earned some praise recently by ESPN analyst Tim Legler. Speaking on the “Old Man & the Three” podcast, Legler likes the addition of Lively to the Mavericks.
Lively really brings something to them they needed. … To have that kind of an impact and be somebody you can kind of just throw it up to anywhere, and he can go get it. He runs the floor like a deer. They need that kind of athleticism with the way Luka plays and having that other option when you’re trying to figure how to take away what he is doing off a ball screen or an iso, and you’ve got Kyrie on the swing pass to attack, there is a gap there down the lane that is going to be available for Dereck Lively, and he is playing with one of the best passers in the league to reward him. Lively has been fantastic.
The Mavericks experimented with various lineups in the preseason and utilized Lively both in the starting lineup and the second unit. He showed he could play with either group, and Kidd has kept him in the starting lineup over their last three games.
The organization appears to have added a player in Lively that can immediately affect games. He has drawn comparisons to former franchise cornerstone Tyson Chandler, given his ability to work in the post and defend at a high level.
He is glad to help the team get off to a great start.
“It is a great feeling, but we’re not satisfied,” Lively said. “We know it’s a long season. It’s a good start to the season, but we’ve just got to be able to maintain this focus and determination throughout the whole season.”