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Dereck Lively On What He Will Bring To The NBA

He’s going to be an outstanding teammate, as he was at Duke

Oral Roberts v Duke
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 16: Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts as he dunks during the first half in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 16, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ever since the NBA Draft started trending much younger, a lot of those young players have been a gamble. Think about guys like Leon Smith, who was in no way emotionally mature enough for the NBA as a teenager and Kwame Brown, who was the #1 pick in 2001. He survived for 12 years in the league but was widely considered a bust and his early teammates were struck by how unready he was for the world of his chosen profession.

The league has gotten better at figuring out bad bets in many ways and spending year in college, for most players, helps maturation, if only marginally.

So when you get a guy like Duke’s Dereck Lively as a potential draft pick, teams are obviously going to have him in for workouts, measurements and other ways to get the best possible analysis of his potential.

But Lively has a pretty good idea of what he brings. As he told the Raleigh News & Observer, “At Duke, I put myself into a role, kind of doing anything it takes to win. I didn’t care about my points or the way I was viewed. I just wanted to win. I just do whatever I can to win, and to do that I needed to be the best defensive force. I had to be the best backup and I just had to be the clean-up man so that was my job and what was my role.”

That’s the kind of attitude any team would like to find.

Still, the sense that we had of Lively was that we only got a partial sense of what he can do, and he suggests as much in this article. His speed and agility, not to mention shot blocking, are his best assets, but his offense was limited by design at Duke. He’s got the potential to be a very good offensive player as well.