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2023 NBA Draft: Lively Goes To Dallas While Whitehead Is Picked By The Nets

Good early signs for the duo from Duke

NBA: NBA Draft
Jun 22, 2023; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Dereck Lively (Duke) with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected twelfth by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft at Barclays Arena.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead both came out of Thursday night’s NBA draft in interesting situations.

Lively was widely expected to go to Dallas at #10, but the Mavericks took Kentucky’s Cason Wallace instead. It might have been a bummer for young Lively but Kentucky fans should be happy. This is after all the day John Calipari declared was the biggest day of the year for Kentucky Basketball. Congrats on your big day, BBN!

Lively was selected two picks later, by Oklahoma City and then...traded to Dallas for Wallace. Dallas also got rid of an onerous contract, sending Davis Bertans and his $17 million dollar contract to OKC.

For Lively, it’s a great situation. He has a solid chance of emerging a starter sooner rather than later. Dallas really needs defensive help inside and Lively will bring that. He’ll also be happy to play second fiddle to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, if Irving decides to stick around.

What about Whitehead? Think he’s read Thomas Wolfe, who wrote You Can't Go Home Again?

Well, maybe, but Whitehead is doing it, more or less. Brooklyn is less than 45 minutes from his hometown of Newark, which is pretty cool. Presumably a lot of his family and friends will be able to get to games and more importantly, he can see them with ease. That’s pretty sweet.

By the way, turns out that the Nets had a pretty good insight on Whitehead’s foot injury: the guy who operated on him, Martin O’Malley, is the Nets’ team doctor. So obviously he feels comfortable about where Whitehead stands. The opposite would be true too: if the Nets thought he had a long-term problem, they would never have touched him.

Both guys join teams that already have a Duke player, assuming that Kyrie Irving decides to stick with Dallas (our sense is that the market is not that great this year, so Irving’s best best might be to remain with the Mavs).

In Whitehead’s case, Seth Curry is a Net and he survived the carnage when the Big Three (Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden), all bailed, each for his own reasons.

He’s been in many ways a model professional who worked his way from not being drafted to a great situation with the Nets. He knows what it takes to be a dedicated and successful professional athlete. Whitehead should learn as much as he can from Curry.