Discover more from Dub Nation HQ
DNHQ Draft Tourney Round 2. Dereck Lively II (6) vs Sidy Cissoko (14)
center defense monster vs wing defense monster
Our Draft Tournament
Yes, we are still having our FOURTH annual DNHQ Draft Tournament, where Dub Nation gets to vote on whom the Warriors should draft via head to head showdowns.
The draft will happen on Jun 22 2023, 5pm.
If the Warriors end up trading the pick, I’ll end the draft tournament early.
Round 1 Results
Jalen Hood-Schifino 38%
Sidy Cissoko 62%
Our first upset. In the past Cissoko might have been my kind of guy, but an Okongwu and Garuba later, I no longer trust my love of athletic guys with feel and no jumper. I’ll go JHS, sharing all the concerns about flaky shot and lack of athleticism.
Dereck Lively II 71%
Leonard Miller 29%
A lot of affection for both these players with multiple people saying they would be happy with either one and that it was sad that the true finals are in the first round (that’s luck for you… see below on the seeding process).
Lively definitely has the edge for me. He seems to be coming in pretty ready on defense — though with a big fouling problem — and I’ve learned from my aforementioned Okongwu / Garuba affections to be less enthused about no-shot athletic power forwards.
However, given that Lively skipped his scheduled workout with GS this week (apparently to workout for LA at #17 instead), we have a collective unease that he may have a guarantee earlier or at least good reason to believe he will not fall to #19 after all.
FYI, The Ringer’s latest June 6 Mock Draft has Lively going #12(!).
That is life and I won’t change up the tournament field mid-journey. The main purpose was to get us thinking about what we value in a draft pick and to one-by-one get to know the main pick candidates, and that has been achieved whether or not we collectively come up with the most realistic choice.
Dub Nation HQ is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Dereck Lively II | 7-1 center | 19 years old | Duke
Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports on Warriors Huddle (2023-05-24):
Okay, so #19. You guys have a good group of guards, right? I think where in terms of like next level of development, because it failed with James Wiseman, would be in the front court, right?
So I'm looking at Dereck Lively, who's 7’ 2”. He went to Duke. He was a freshman there. Didn't do a lot because in the Duke system it doesn't really allow the spacing the same way as the NBA does. So he was just a rim runner and a shot blocker and didn't really showcase his three point jump shot, which he did in fact have in high school. Fun fact, Dereck Lively was also on one of like, the greatest AAU teams I've ever seen. It was Team Final, it was him, it was Jalen Duren who is now with the Detroit Pistons. And Emoni Bates, and it was the three of them and it was like the most incredible AAU basketball I've ever seen. So I really like him there.
Feel for the Game
Great finisher off rolls and cuts. He has soft hands for catching fastballs and the massive wingspan to catch passes above the rim. With bouncy athleticism, he’s a constant lob threat in the half court. Though Duke doesn’t run much pick-and-roll, that’ll be his primary way to contribute at the next level.
He has a knack for playmaking despite lacking a low-post skill set. He can fire lasers to spot-up shooters, and he does a good job of locating cutters. There could be a role for him as a low- to mid-post playmaking hub. If his shot develops, he could even be used in dribble handoffs.
He displays touch near the rim and could eventually develop into a 3-point threat. He’s most comfortable from the corners. He could have untapped potential as a spot-up shooter.
He loves to run the floor in transition to get ahead of the defense.
Mobile rim protector capable of stepping out and hedging, blitzing or switching. Even if he gets beat, he’s able to recover and use his 7-foot-8 wingspan to alter or block the shot from behind. If he masters his fundamentals, he could become a versatile big capable of excelling in any scheme.
Impactful help defender who covers a lot of ground and takes off in a blink for blocks inside.
Plays like a gentle giant at times, not going back up for putbacks following offensive boards. Instead, he just kicks it out. This isn’t inherently a bad thing. Some coaches instruct bigs to do this. But the aggression would be nice to see in a player who came in with such great expectations.
He hasn’t shown the ability or desire to create his own looks, rarely even dribbling the ball. With a borderline-hackable free throw percentage, he could be a liability if he’s not finishing at the basket.
He’s not vacuuming up defensive rebounds like he did in high school, in part because he’s dealing with larger bodies than ever before. He needs to get better at boxing out since he can’t get by on just athleticism anymore. Getting stronger is a priority.
Defensive fundamentals need to improve. He finds himself out of position at times, especially when defending perimeter actions like handoffs. He’d probably be best utilized in a switching scheme early in his career as he continues to learn the intricacies of defending actions.
Brought inconsistent effort at the high school level, but so far at Duke he’s improved, something he’ll need to continue doing to go in the first round.
The Scout: Lively struggled to start the season, but by the end of it, there was not a more impactful defender in college basketball. He’s an elite rim protector who averaged 2.5 blocks per game this past season in 20 minutes. He defends ball screens well and can do so in a variety of different schemes. He can hard hedge and recover, he can drop, and he can play at the level. He’s mobile and runs the court very well. Offensively, he’s extremely limited right now, but Lively has immense tools with a 7-7 wingspan that portends potential to not just be a good defender but a great one.
8. Dereck Lively II, 19, 7-1 Fr. C, Duke
What is the highest you could justify drafting a rim-protecting center who averaged five points a game? This feels about right. Lively’s value is hurt by the fact that he’s a center, not to mention that averaged five points a game. Yes, five.
However, he’s at least the prototype for might be called a “playoff five” as an offensive rim runner who can both protect the rim and guard the perimeter. Lively is 7-1 but has the feet to comfortably defend on the perimeter and showed it on several occasions during Duke’s season. He also has big rim-protection numbers, with a superior block rate to that posted by fellow Duke lottery pick Mark Williams a year earlier — 12.7 percent for Lively, 11.4 percent for Williams.
Lively did this while guarding out on the floor much more ably than Williams too, although it came at a cost: a whopping 8.0 fouls per 100 possessions, compared to 5.1 for Williams.
Additionally, there are flashes of offensive upside. He only made two of his 13 3-point attempts during the season but looked comfortable launching corner 3s before games; this could easily be a point of development in the early part of his career.
Lively has also shown facility as a passer that can give him some added value beyond finishing dunks. Admittedly, some of that comes from a reluctance to shoot — I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a 7-footer kick out more offensive rebounds. Nonetheless, I’m a big believe in bigs who can pass.
Lively comes with other small quibbles. There is no post game at all, and for his size, you’d also like to see more dominance on the glass than he showed as a freshman. All of that pushes him into the late lottery, but of the prospects born in 2004, only Whitmore and Black were more impactful last season.
Defensive Plus-Minus is one kind of a plus-minus metric that measures the difference per 100 possessions in points allowed with a player on the court versus off the court. It is, as all lineup stats are, directly tied to who a player shares the floor with and who their replacement is. There are flaws in its application, though if used responsibly, can be very revealing.
Dereck Lively led the nation in Defensive Box Plus-Minus last year at 6.8. He’s the first freshman to be the top in the country in the metric since Jaren Jackson Jr. did in 2018. In fact, the group of freshmen to achieve such a mark over the last 15 years is basically a group of cannot-fail defenders in the NBA.
Duke finished 14th in the nation in defensive efficiency this season, and while they were a stout defensive team without him, Lively was a large part of the reason for their elite ascension. But his aptitude near the basket is felt in the on-off stats of efficiency and attempts near the rim.
According to Hoop Explorer, teams only shot 50.5% at the rim when Lively was on the floor, compared to 56.4% when he was off it. But he also faced a higher percentage of shots coming at the rim than Young did, signaling Duke’s confidence in funneling the ball toward him. Above 40% of all field goal attempts came at the rim with Lively in the game; that number was closer to 36% with Young in there. That’s a fairly small difference, but the combination of those marks shows Lively’s true value.
He needs to be treated as the elite defensive prospect that he is. Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Chet Holmgren, Jaren Jackson, Larry Sanders, Joel Embiid… those are all some of the best rim protectors and important defenders of the last decade. I really don’t think the top 10 is out of the question for Lively, a return to my preseason evaluation when I had him in that range.
The fascination with Dereck Lively continues to build, especially after his recent showing during his Klutch Pro Day. Lively came into the 2022-23 season as one of the top high school basketball recruits in the country. He was projected to be a lottery pick heading into his freshman year with the Blue Devils.
It took some time for Lively to find his groove this year. After a preseason injury to his calf, Lively had to attempt to make up for lost time. The offensive game has often been teased when it comes to Lively. In Raleigh, the athletic big man was primarily used as a lob threat, despite the idea that Lively could start to sprinkle in a little bit of floor spacing upside. After a sensational second half of the season, Lively finished the year with averages of 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game in 20.6 minutes.
When you read those stats at first glance, you start to wonder why Lively would be considered “safe.” That’s because I believe there are a number of interesting factors here. This big man class is going to have plenty scratching their heads, especially after the French alien of Victor Wembanyama. Any time a prospect has the lofty expectation of being “the guy” in the high school rankings, it’s a weighted vest to carry around before your freshman year. Lively might not live up to the lofty expectations of being the top recruit in the country. But throughout his freshman year, I believe that evaluators and NBA scouts quickly realized something about Lively.
Maybe he’s just perfect for the type of role he can thrive in at the NBA level.
Lively isn’t going to be this big man talent that you slowly develop and force-feed in the post. But how many of those are even around in the modern NBA?
Instead, he’s going to be a big-bodied center with athleticism that has superior shot-blocking instincts and scary defensive versatility. That alone should put him in the conversation to get the curiosity of plenty of NBA front offices.
6. Dereck Lively
While we are on the subject of Duke bigs— Dereck Lively is huge, mobile, and has immense defensive potential. The one scary point is he only scored 5.2 pts/game and 10.1 points per 40, which is a uniquely low scoring rate for a prospect drafted in round 1, let alone the lottery.
This makes him a tricky proposition— 54 of his 75 FG’s were dunks this year, and when he was not in dunking range he seemed extremely uncomfortable with the ball. So let’s compare him pace adjusted per 40 minutes to other past low scoring big prospects:
Granted, this is a cherrypick. It is mostly pre-draft seasons, except for Okafor, McGee, and Horford who stayed in school and went on to big sophomore breakouts. There is no guarantee Lively would break out if he stays in school for another year.
But the main point is that things are possible. Rudy Gobert is what we are hoping for with Lively, and this is not a perfect comparison since Rudy was playing professionally in France against more difficult competition. But he was almost 2 years older, and did not have an impressive scoring output or nearly the assist:TOV rate that Lively boasts.
There is also the prospect of a bigger and better Horford IF Lively develops his skills at an outlier rate. One minor feature is that he attempted threes this year. He only went 2/13 for Duke, but he also went 11/40 in AAU and there is a sliver of hope that he develops into a capable 3 point shooter in time.
And even though Lively scored low volume, he was highly efficient with an elite assist:TOV rate, indicative of a high basketball IQ that makes his defensive potential that much more tantalizing. It is difficult to think of any past prospects who were huge, mobile, and good passers that did not become good defensively in the NBA.
Fab Melo and Daniel Orton are a couple low scoring late 1st bigs who busted, but they badly pale in comparison to Lively. Orton was massively inefficient and undersized for center at 6’9.5, and Fab Melo was old and terrible and has a case for one of the worst first round picks of all time.
Of course this does not mean Lively necessarily will succeed, as the low scoring is still a scary flag that most of the success cases improved upon before testing the waters. But he definitely has big upside, and it’s difficult to find a truly scary cautionary tale that suggests this flaw makes him likely to fail.
Video to dream about his 3 pt shot:
Sidy Cissoko | 6-7 wing | G League Ignite
Feel for the Game
Energetic defender who locks in off the ball. He offers great rim protection and frequently picks up weakside blocks on unsuspecting players going up for layups. He had a play this season in which he blocked a lob in transition, fell down, got back up, and then swatted a layup attempt.
Competitive on-ball defender with the length and frame to become a versatile piece of a switching defense.
At his best slashing to the rim and driving with a full head of steam. He’s an excellent finisher around the rim, even when contested. He can adjust midair if need be or yam it on a rim protector.
Can deliver wraparound passes to cutters or kickouts to shooters whether he’s dribbling or in midair.
He’s shooting well from 3 off the catch for the first time in his G League career, making 37.8 percent of his attempts this season.
He’s more of a secondary creator than a primary; he isn’t breaking down defenders with advanced moves. But on drives to the rim, he can mix in crossovers or spin moves to get into the paint.
Unproven shooter who has never shot a high percentage from the perimeter, despite having normal form. He’s a below-average free throw shooter and lacks natural touch finishing around the basket.
Commits some careless turnovers driving into or whipping passes into crowds.
Cissoko got beaten off the dribble far too often early in the season. Though he’s made progress throughout the year, he did have a tendency to get flat-footed that remains noteworthy moving forward.
The Scout: Cissoko is a young player who improved in many respects over his time with the G League Ignite this past season. He’s a 6-7 wing with some point guard skills and an enormous 220-pound frame that looks like it will continue to age well. More than that, Cissoko thrived on the defensive end. Playing at a high professional level for the first time in his career, he was a switchable player who played with real physicality on that end. He’s quick and hard to power through because of his frame. He has good rotational instincts. Ultimately, Cissoko needs to fix his jumper, and that will be the key to his game. He averaged 11.6 points and mostly did his damage in transition, where he can be a bit of a freight train when he gets downhill. But he made only 31.4 percent of his 3s, and he’ll need to make some real mechanical tweaks in the next few years.
Most importantly, Cissoko is a hard-wired competitor. He talks his shit and backs it up with a supremely physical style of play. There aren’t any plays beneath him to make; he’ll dive on the floor, take a foul to save a basket, guard across the lineup, or hit any driver on their ass. Some guys pop off the screen as intense competitors, and this kid is one of them.
Cissoko’s pedigree and strong play for the Ignite this year have moved him up draft boards throughout the early Spring. He played professionally in the Spanish LEB Gold division a year ago, a second-tier pro league where he got to play more as a pass-first point guard. While there, he averaged 10.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists — not bad for a guy his age.
The transition to the Ignite saw a big leap in competition but a much different role. Cissoko wasn’t the lead ball handler or even a frequent jumbo creator next to guys like Scoot Henderson and Leonard Miller, who have gotten more mainstream attention than the Frenchman. He learned how to play off-ball a little better, made some real strides with his jump shot, and showed enough defensive tools to be a legitimate stopper someday.
My evaluation of Cissoko’s offense at the moment is built on competing ideals. As a teenager who has made a pair of professional league rosters in the past (one of which as a playmaking guard), there are elements of experience and feel he brings to the table that few other in this 2023 draft class can match. Cissoko averaged 4.3 assists per 40 minutes on the Ignite while sharing the floor with ball-dominant Scoot. Guys who have his level of experience who can get a nearly two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio at 18 (he played the entire Ignite season at 18 years old) are highly valuable.
Yet Cissoko, even for a high-feel teenager, is still pretty raw. There are gains in his arsenal that need to take place for me to trust his on-ball creation reps, and as a scorer he leaves a ton to be desired in the half-court. I’m not sure what to make of those competing ideals of ‘high feel’ and ‘raw with an unclear pathway to on-ball half-court role’ just yet. What I know is that I like many of the skills that Cissoko brings to the table on an individual basis, and that combined with his competitive spirit leaves me enthused about his future.
Without a reliable jumper and continued progression, Cissoko will lose some value. He likely is too good in transition and has that sneaky handling upside to be written off as a creator. He’s just really far away from realizing a consistent role with the ball in his hands. Despite great progression throughout the season, I see Cissoko as a pretty underdeveloped offensive piece in the half-court.
All in all, Cissoko is a guy who has utility-man defensive upside on the ball. He’s still got a ways to go off-ball for being pristine positionally, but his instincts are there to be a solid rim-protecting helper. The Ignite were poor on defense all season long, so I don’t want to overreact to the poor defensive metrics and peg them on one guy. Until he learns to foul less and play angles as much as physicality, his defense will be more about upside than impact.
I feel like I say the phrase “it comes down to the shot” far too often in these scouting reports, it’s almost a cop-out of an evaluation tool. For nearly every role player who isn’t a big or an elite athlete, the shot is going to be the make-or-break skill for how they flex in as a complimentary piece.
Cissoko is a good athlete, but not a great one. His raw tools, though, are what are impressive. He’s a bull in a China shop on both ends, sensationally physical, and has true positionless ability that is appealing. He’s good, but not good enough for those tools to be his pathway to impact.
The way the shot has improved over the last year has been wildly encouraging. I’m willing to bet on that moving forward despite the troublesome misses and sometimes rough mechanics. It’s the key to his offensive role, and I can see him being a nice mismatch piece down the line as a result. His handle, passing, and catch-and-shoot combination would make him a toolsy role player who can be utilized in a variety of ways.
I’m bullish on Cissoko and have a real first-round grade on him because of the defense. With his physicality and movement patterns, he can be incredibly effective at the point of attack. There are some continued areas to clean up (as there are with nearly ever 19-year-old), but the tools and impact are overwhelmingly positive.
Playing him as more of a big wing will require adjustments moving forward. He has to become a more impactful rebounder (his metrics are really low). He needs to become smarter as a help defender to be a quarterback on the back line — he should watch as much Draymond Green tape as possible and try to emulate him in all facets of his game.
Cissoko’s upside is pretty high as a role player. He’s a good basketball player with a competitive spirit and projectable growth over the last two years. In the 20s on draft night, I’d certainly give him a serious look and think he’d be a really good fit on teams drafting in the 20s who could use some utility, defensive-minded role player minutes like Sacramento, Miami, Indiana, Portland, or Utah.
Vote in this poll and/or by posting a comment (worth ten votes) with a single hashtag #FOURTEEN or #SIX.
Dub Nation HQ is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.