In a matchup that featured No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama, it may have been another rookie who stole the show to lift his team to a victory and open the regular season.
Dereck Lively II produced 16 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot to help the Dallas Mavericks to a 126-119 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. He shot 7-of-8 from the field in 30 minutes of work.
The 12th pick became the second player in history to record at least 15 points and 10 rebounds on 85% shooting from the field or better in a debut game. He is one of nine players with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a debut since 2000.
The performance by Lively earned praise from virtually everyone on the roster, including Luka Doncic, who had 33 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He was asked about the effort after the game and definitely had an NSFW response for those watching on ESPN.
“He played amazing,” Doncic told Cassidy Hubbarth. “I don’t remember seeing a rookie that played that amazing for (their) first game. I remember my first game; I was nervous. He didn’t seem that nervous. He played (expletive) amazing.”
Said coach Jason Kidd: “I thought Dereck was great tonight. … He has been great with both (the starters and second unit). To bring him off the bench tonight and then being able to start him in the second half was something we had talked about doing. He was great on both ends — being able to rebound the ball, change shots and giving us second and third opportunities.”
Dereck Lively II showed out in his @dallasmavs debut tonight 💪
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) October 26, 2023
The Mavericks experimented with various lineups in the preseason and utilized Lively in the starting lineup and the second unit. He showed that he could play with either group, and Kidd opted to start him to begin the second half.
Lively responded with 10 points, seven rebounds, one steal and one block in 17 minutes over the last two quarters. He helped change the game for the Mavericks and looked to play without any nerves.
“I feel like the preseason games definitely taught me a lot,” Lively said. “I feel like the trip to Abu Dhabi (against Minnesota) and Madrid (against Real Madrid) and then the game against Detroit, I was able to learn and get me comfortable out there with my teammates.”
Lively averaged six points, five rebounds, 1.8 blocks and one assist on 68.8% shooting from the field in the preseason. He finished his run with his best performance against the Pistons on Oct. 20: 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and one block.
The Mavericks appear 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 eager to contribute in any way possible.
“I just go out there and try to take it play by play,” Lively said. “If I get a bucket, that’s what I’m happy about. If I get someone else a bucket, I’m even happier. I’m just trying to make sure the score goes up and we come out with the win.”