The Dallas Mavericks feel as if they won the NBA Draft – eve without having the No. 1 pick (Victor Wembanyama), like their neighbors down I-45, the San Antonio Spurs.
They found who they not just wanted, but needed in draft picks Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper.
“If you’re a true Mavericks’ fan or even as a player for the Mavs, you understand what we needed to be a better team, whether that was players with more of a defensive mindset or current players getting better defensively,” said Michael Finley, Mavs vice president of basketball operations and General Manager Nico Harrison’s right-hand man.
“We understood that, in order to improve on last year, it was something we had to address. And with the draft, I think we addressed it with these two guys.”
In their introductory press conference with the media on Monday, Coach Jason Kidd was just as excited about the prospect of what the two new players can bring to the Mavs.
“Dereck works extremely hard. He’s fulfilled part of his dream, that’s to be drafted. The next part is to be a champion. He’s ready to work. At dinner last night with these two, very mature men, they are ready to work and not afraid to ask a question. That’s exciting as a coach.
“I’m going to borrow Fin’s (Michael Finley) quote from draft night : Did you see us play last year,” Kidd asked. “When you look at the core of our youth here in Dallas, it’s pretty special. When you talk about Luka, these two young gentlemen, and then (Josh) Hardy and Josh (Green), that’s a pretty cool core.”
Kidd continued: “You look around the league, we feel comfortable – or confident –that we can compete with the athletic teams in this league. To be able to get these two . . . You watch the layup line, it won’t just be layups anymore.” When asked how they plan to transition from college to the pros, both players had this to say:
“Just have your circle. Have people you can trust and people that aren’t always telling you: ‘yes,’” Lively said. “There’s got to be people in your life that tell you no and try to keep you in the right light ; make sure you’re going down the right path; make sure you’re focused.”
Added Prosper, who’s often referred to as O-Max; “You want to have people around you who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Having people around you who know you best and rely on those who have been through it and have more experience than you.”
Both Lively and O-Max are thrilled to be beginning this journey to the NBA together.
“I’m so happy that I’m not alone in this,” Lively said of O-Max. “I got someone else to go through the highs and lows with me. I know he’ll be my brother through this. And I’ll be his.”
Lively, a 7 ‘1 center, was the 12th overall pick last week. The Mavericks were picking 10th, but traded with the Oklahoma City Thunder to move down two spots, and still get Lively and reap other assets in a deal that remains unofficial, although both sides have agreed in principle.
Lively was an early-entry candidate to this year’s draft after spending one season at Duke. In his lone season with the Blue Devils, he averaged 5.2 points (.658 FG%), 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game across 34 appearances. Lively II was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team and the ACC All-Defensive Team.
The Philadelphia native was ranked as the No. 1 overall player in the ESPN 100 for the class of 2022 as a five-star center out of West-town School in West Chester, PA. He was named the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year in 2022 after leading Westtown to a 31-7 record and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship in 2022.
Prosper (6-8, 215) spent two seasons at Marquette University, where he averaged 12.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game as a junior this past season. Prosper spent his freshman year at Clemson University before transferring to Marquette.
The Montréal native was a nationally ranked recruit in the class of 2020, spending his senior season at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois before transferring to the NBA’s Latin American Academy in Mexico City to conclude his high school career. Both hailing from Montréal, Prosper played alongside Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin in AAU and eventually at the NBA’s Latin American Academy in Mexico City.
Prosper’s first name is pronounced oh-LIV-ee-ay MAX-ence. He speaks four languages – French, English (his second language), Spanish and Haitian Creole.
The 2023 NBA Draft was held last Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The No. 1 pick was Victor Wembamyama and No. 2 was Brandon Miller out of Alabama.