Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesGal Mekel is averaging 9.7 points on 48.0 percent shooting with 2.0 assists in the Summer League.LAS VEGAS — The desert delivers hope, promise and ultimately disappointment. For the NBA’s Summer League, players like Mavs swingmen Ricky Ledo and Eric Griffin are the prized possessions due to their youth and potential. Sometimes a reliable hand falls through the cracks because they’re no longer new and flashy. That’s likely where Gal Mekel is now.
With the preliminary round of the league under his belt, Mekel averaged 9.7 points on 48.0 percent shooting while averaging 2.0 assists per game. The averages for the assists will raise red flags, but he’s creating good looks for his teammates and those leading passes he makes have led to teammates missing shots or hockey assist-like passes. The low number of assists are deceiving.
Mekel raised some eyebrows last summer with his ability to run a team, near-effortless ability to facilitate for others and underrated perimeter defense. Within a couple of days, many wondered if Mekel was playing in Vegas without an NBA contract. They were turned away as the Mavs signed the Israeli guard to a three-year deal at the league minimum.
While the results haven’t been as flashy, Mekel has been the reliable hand of Dallas’ offense.
“Gal has done a great job into our offense and establishing what we want to do offensively,” Mavs summer league coach Kaleb Canales said.
Mekel has been asked to take on more of a leadership role with this roster due to his experience in this format and in general.
“I just want to keep being aggressive as I run the team,” Mekel said. “I feel like it’s getting better after every game. I have more experience and I’m playing more calm, not trying to force anything. As long as the team looks good, I’m happy.”
While the team finished with a 2-1 record and looked solid, he’s still not playing to his standards, mainly due to still working through conditioning as part of his recovery from knee surgery earlier this year and a subsequent setback with his calf.
One of the bigger things Mekel needed to work on was his speed and shooting. The results are mixed as he’s moving around better on the floor, but the 3-point percentage still leaves more to be desired. Mekel knows there’s room to grow.
“I feel that I’m getting better,” Mekel, who is shooting 33.3 percent from distance in Vegas, said. “I want to be a little more aggressive but that will come with conditioning and better shape. I think I need to keep getting better with my 3-point shot. I feel much better about it, but I’m still working on it.”
It’s an interesting situation at the point guard position. There’s depth, much like there was last season, but the difference is there’s less reliability. Mekel knows his place on the depth chart, but still wants to push himself to try to force a decision upon Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
“I think I showed last year that I can help the team,” Mekel said. “I really believe I can help our team this year. I definitely want to fight for minutes and help the team.”
Time will tell if he gets what he ultimately wants.