Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much here, though. Mekel isn’t exactly setting the world on fire the way fellow rookie Michael Carter-Williams is for the Philadelphia 76ers, who was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. However, the expectations are different for a guy who wasn’t drafted, and so far Mekel is exceeding those expectations.
He won’t be stealing away the starting job from Jose Calderon, but if he keeps up the level of play he’s displayed through the first four games of his career it will be difficult to take his backup minutes away when Shane Larkin and eventually Devin Harris return from injury.
So far this season, Mekel is shooting just under 53 percent from the field and adding 5.5 points, two rebounds and four assists per game in only 16.3 minutes per game.
He’s mostly only accumulating big minute totals in blowouts, playing 23 minutes in the humiliating loss against the Houston Rockets and 26 minutes during the throttling of the Los Angeles Lakers. During the other two games, he’s only played nine and seven minutes.
Regardless of the sample size, what’s been most impressive about Mekel is how poised he has played and how quickly he’s figured out how to play in control and within the flow of the team. Most rookies come in and try to do too much, but Mekel has been able to help his team win, either by making the right pass to set up his teammates or by aggressively driving to the basket, something he is perhaps more adept at than originally thought.
Maybe expectations were too low for the tw0-time Israel League MVP, but he’s done a phenomenal job with the opportunity he’s been given. He may be the backup point guard by default right now due to injury, but at this rate he’s making it easy to let Calderon have a breather on the bench without worrying too much about a drop off in production.