Mekel Gains, Earns Confidence In Vegas

a

LAS VEGAS – Gal Mekel has plenty of support in his native Israel. After all, he’s got six brothers and sisters ranging in age from 19 to four months. All of them, well, except for the newbie, watched up close last season as the flashy 6-foot-3 point guard stormed to the Israeli Basketball Super League MVP.

That means it’s time for NBA League Pass in the Mekel household.

Signed by the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month to a three-year contract, Mekel became the second Isreali-born player to get to the NBA. The first, Omri Casspi, still the lone Israeli drafted, will  play just a few hundred miles down the road with the Houston Rockets.

“Actually a lot of Israelis are playing hoops, just not a lot in the States,” Mekel, who played two seasons at Wichita State, said following Friday’s Summer League finale, the Mavs’ fourth game in as many nights. “Basketball is big in Israel and I started when I was 5 on the court right next to my house, and actually started with a serious team when I was 6 or 7. Basketball was my first love.”

Pretty much just like every American kid who dreams of the NBA on the neighborhood pavement.

“It’s a dream of every player,” Mekel, 25, said. “You grow up, you have the posters of Michael Jordan and everybody on your wall, and it’s a dream of everybody, but last summer I came here [to the U.S.] to train with coach [David] Thorpe and I had a good workout with the Utah Jazz, and I saw that I have this chance, going to have this shot. I went back home, I had a great season.”

The quick, savvy point guard, with wide-open court awareness and an ability to dish with unpredictability, has some comparing him to Ricky Rubio. Mekel averaged 13.3 ppg, 5.4 apg, 2.6 rpg and 1.4 steals last season for Maccabi Bazan Haifa in Israel.

“I love the point guards that involve everyone and getting all the other guys better, controlling the team with tempo,” Mekel said, “[like] Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, a long list, that’s the style of game I like to play.”

Mekel drew some of the more curious observers to six Summer League games to gain a bit of perspective as to how his game would transfer at a higher level. He didn’t quite create the stir of Jeremy Lin a few years ago when he barnstormed Vegas as part of the Mavs’ team.

But Mekel did perform well, averaging 9.7 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting and 5.0 apg. He vaulted into the starting lineup after first-round draft pick Shane Larkin fractured his ankle requiring surgery in the team’s final practice before departing for Las Vegas. Without Larkin, Mekel played nearly 28 mpg, which eventually caught up to him as the Mavs played their final four of six games on consecutive days.

“I was dead in the end,” Mekel said. “We really tried hard to bring energy and it’s not easy. But for me I think it was a great week, first time getting to know the NBA game. I think I played pretty good for the first time. That’s it. I’ll work on my game, stuff that I saw to work on this week and I’ll be ready for training camp.”

The big question is where will Mekel get most of his minutes next season, with the Mavs or perhaps their D-League affiliate just north of Dallas, the Texas Legends? Dallas completely reshaped its backcourt, signing veteran point guards Jose Calderon and Devin Harris, plus high-scoring combo guard Monta Ellis and shooting guard Wayne Ellington. Then there’s also Larkin, who is expected to return some time around the middle of training camp.

“He did a really good job early and maybe had some times where he sputtered because again, back-to-back-to-back-to-back, that’s a lot of work, and without Shane as a backup,” Mavs assistant and Summer League coach Monte Mathis said. “I think the wear and tear caught up to him a little bit, but he’s a tough kid. He fought through everything and he keeps coming and coming. He’ll get better and better.”

16 Comments

  1. dan says:

    he is really a great player who just need a solid chance, that’s all. and if given that chance, i know he will surprise everyone who didn’t know him before. he’s one of the most intelligent PG i’ve ever seen and with Dirk, Ellis, Marion, Carter and other players who can finish plays properly, he can become one of the most efficient guards in the league. he is really a pure PG and only needs the chance to show his qualities.. please let him play!

    • Simmo says:

      i agree with you but remember that there are a whole heap of players who fall into the same category of ‘just need a chance’, Patty Mills from the Spurs is one who could be a potential starting point guard. The question is whether Mekel is able to exploit any chances that he gets – just like Jeremy Lin did for the NYK’s. By the way, what is the biggest sport in Israel?

      • TheBlocker says:

        The biggest sport is equal with Basketballl and Football (soccer) , they have Maccabi Tel aviv in basketball who are one of the top 4 teams in europe every season but there are more fans watching football.

  2. COOL ! YOU’RE DUNK ! ;-O

  3. You’re my idol ! Respect for you ! To MICHAEL JORDAN ! 8-) I WANT TO BE ANOTHER YOU ! GIVE SOMES CONCILS ! TO MICHAEL JORDAN !

  4. david says:

    we love u gal
    go mavs!!!

    • artifex says:

      I hope he gets a chance.
      For one Mavs are quite overloaded with Calderon, Harris (1/2) and Larkin likely the first PGs
      And Carlisle is known for not playing young players big minutes. As much as I respect him, that;s something I don’t like. Of course you get more Now-production out of a routined veteran. But only by playing do young players develop and be able to help the team in the next 2,3 seasons, otherwise you end up like the Mavs: With and old team, where the some young players can’t contribute because they don’t have the experience…
      That’s just how I feel and think as a fan, not saying I’m smarter than known NBA coach. But would love to give the young talent a chance!

  5. aku245 says:

    omri is not the only drafted from israel,also yotam halperin,doron shefer and lior eliyahu got drafted,but never played in the NBA

  6. ilovezNBA says:

    Mekel brings intelligence to the Basketball court that very few players have. He controls the tempo and always finds the open man…with Shawn Marion and Nowitzki we are going to see lots of alley-hoops and open three pointers.
    With some adjustments to his game, and a real chance (minutes), Mekel can make the difference in terms of Dallas playoff hopes. This kid is really talented and has improved his game every year. He works hard, and has the right mind set. Jeremy Lin is a great example of a young talent who nearly didn’t make it…but when he got his chance to shine…he changed the Knicks game and now does magic in Houston. With patience and hard work, Gal could be a great point guard in the NBA. He has the right attitude and plays a lot like John Stockton…hard defence, clutch plays, and a great vision and leadership.
    Let him roll with Nowitzki and Great things are going to happen in Dallas.

  7. Ziden says:

    D Mavs r a luckee teem, becuz d mavs now hav 2 good pointe gards. But, I stil doo not think dat d mavs are stil goin to mak da play offs.