An ACC All-Defense and All-Freshman, Dereck Lively had an up & down freshman season, but still ultimately held his stock as a first round prospect. As a freshman, Lively averaged 5.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.4 BPG, and 0.7 TOPG on splits of 66/15/60. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Dereck Lively
Wingspan/ standing reach: 7’3/9’4
Hand size: N/A
Pre-Draft team: Duke
Tools: Frame, shot blocking
- Excellent timing as a shot blocker
- Outstanding frame
- Gets off the ground with ease; great catch radius on lobs
- Moves his feet well on the perimeter; can handle switches
- Has a good second jump
- Difficult to shoot over
- Great help-side defender at the rim
- Should be good in P&R drop coverage
- Has shown flashes of good vision
- Seems to be too passive at Duke
- Can miss defensive assignments from ball-watching
- Needs to learn how to defend beyond just protecting the rim/drop coverage
- Must reduce fouling
- Will need to become more consistent defending the perimeter; can look stiff moving laterally at times
- Needs to get stronger (see NC State game at home vs DJ Burns)
- Must improve touch at the rim
- Driving ability of any kind (0 drives or isos)
- Scoring away from the rim/shot distribution
Dereck Lively is a dominant big at the rim with lots of room to grow, offering both immediate and long-term value.
Offensively, Lively is mostly limited to the rim at the moment, with a few flashes of shooting in college. In high school, Lively was more free in shooting jumpers, but Duke did not allow for him to play the floor-stretching role. At the rim, Lively dunks almost everything, making him hard to stop. However, he will need to prove touch at the rim, since he shot just 52% at the rim on non-dunks. If Lively can become a stretch big that can both defend the rim and shoot, his archetype becomes extremely valuable and will be a constant rotation player for years to come, at a minimum.
Defensively, Lively has raw tools to work with that can excite NBA teams: outstanding shot-blocking instincts and overall ability, quick enough feet to switch onto guards and defend the perimeter, and impactful closeouts that make him difficult to shoot over on switches.
While those tools are promising, Lively’s defense still is raw and will require his NBA team to be patient in developing him. He has some habits he needs to clean up, including ball-watching, understanding defensive schemes, foul trouble, and versatility in defending the pick & roll. He also benefited a lot at Duke with the lack of a defensive three in the key in college basketball, allowing for Lively to camp in the paint on defense, meeting slashers and cutters at the rim. He will have to prove ability to play at every spot within a legal NBA defense to have his rim protection translate at a high level.
Overall, if Lively can prove shooting value and become a two-way interior presence with the ability to hit trailer threes and pick & pop threes, his value to a playoff team would be worth a good payday and he would serve as a key rotation piece on a good team.
Similar to: Mo Bamba, almost incomparable; no big man fits 1:1 with Lively making him incredibly unique of an analytical dream as a pure either 3 point shooter, or finisher at the rim without an in-between game.
Projected draft range: 10-25
Expected role: Interior presence on both ends of the floor as a starting big or dominant backup big
Unplayable if: Passive mentality never develops, and a lack of touch around the rim limits his scoring away from dunks.
Exceeds expectations if: Jump shooting develops & perimeter defense continues to progress into being a positive defender at any level.