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Mavs All-Star Weekend: Dereck Lively II Shines, Luka Doncic MVP Odds & Much More

With the first two nights of NBA All-Star Weekend in the books, we take a look back Dallas Mavericks rookie big man Dereck Lively II's impressive Rising Stars Challenge, recap the 3-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest, and look ahead to Sunday's All-Star Game, including Luka Doncic's betting odds.

NBA All-Star Weekend got off to a great start for the Dallas Mavericks, as rookie big man Dereck Lively II provided a big spark for Team Jalen en route to a Rising Stars Challenge championship win on Friday night. Although Lively is still young and learning, he's been an incredibly impactful player for the Mavs during his first season, averaging 9.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 25.7 minutes per game.

“Being able to be a start as a rookie. Being able to be an impactful player, help impact winning,” Lively said about what he's loved the most about his rookie season. “Being able to earn my teammates’ respect and trust. And just being able to go out there and laugh at one another and have fun. That’s definitely something that I’ve loved. And that’s the main thing."

All-star weekend

The Mavs didn't have any participants on Saturday night, as Damian Lillard won the 3-Point Contest and Mac McClung defended his Dunk Contest title from last year. However, the spotlight will be on Luka Doncic Sunday night, as he'll start for the Western Conference team alongside LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nikola Jokic.

On this special edition of the Mavs Step Back Podcast, we talk about Lively showing how special he is under the bright lights of All-Star Weekend, All-Star game daily fantasy sports odds – we make five picks, including what we think Doncic will do at +1900 odds to win the All-Star Game MVP – and finally, we take a look ahead to what awaits the Mavs next week when regular-season play resumes.

Lively believes his team is a "dark horse" title contender after the trade deadline additions of P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford, and with the Mavs finally getting healthy again, he might have a point.

"We're the dark horse that everybody doesn't want to look at, but we're in the back of their minds," Lively said. "We just got to keep this streak going, stay focused, and get each gameplan done when game time comes."

And just in case you haven't gotten enough of Lively yet, we also jump into his response to former Mavs forward Grant Williams' viral comments that appeared to be shots taken at Doncic and the Mavs. You can listen to the entire episode below, and be sure to hit that SUBSCRIBE button and leave your takes in the comment section on YouTube!