First of all, what a finish down the stretch from Luka Doncic. Hits a dagger 3-pointer on the road in San Antonio. Puts several exclamation points on his 30-point triple-double. Spoils Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut. Maybe this is the year Luka breaks through for an MVP award.
But one of the bigger takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ season-beginning win over the Spurs was how well rookie Dereck Lively II played. In fact, with Wembanyama in foul trouble for much of the evening, it was the precocious Dallas big man who showed out with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Lively’s impressive maiden pro game impressed Luka so much that he let a profanity slip on live TV:
Good on ESPN for not short-circuiting the interview. Kids these days have heard all the bad words, haven’t they? With how feral many corners of the Internet are, I’m certain of it. Plus, it’s past the bedtime of many children on this East Coast especially. We’re all good here.
Even when Luka does naughty things like this, it’s endearing. He was tired. That’s a valid excuse. Look at this closing stretch.
Luka was impressed with how much composure Lively played with, recalling how nervous he was before his first NBA contest. The Duke product was crashing the offensive glass all evening, skying to the rim for point-blank buckets and providing hope that the Mavs have raised their defensive ceiling with a stellar rebounder and viable rim protector.
Not bad for the 12th pick in the draft. Is it possible that the Mavs’ draft night trade with Oklahoma City to land the rights to Lively nets them a legitimate contributor/potential starter?
Teams should typically temper their expectations with late-lottery picks. However, Lively’s incredible performance across 31 minutes of action is reason for real optimism.
Good on Luka for smoothing things over right away afterwards. Check out the full game highlights below to get a better snapshot of what Lively did — and to see Wemby heat up a bit with nine fourth-quarter points to give the Mavs a scare before Luka slammed the door.
Victor Wembanyama finished his NBA debut with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
9 of his points came in the 4th quarter, the 3rd-most by a No. 1 overall pick in his debut in the last 25 years. pic.twitter.com/r90YA3DIwu