With Jose Calderon‘s recent ankle injury, the Dallas Mavericks have an opening at starting point guard. And since the only other true point guards on the roster are both rookies, this is a massive opportunity for one of the rookies to step up and cement a spot in the rotation.
With veteran Devin Harris still out with injury, both of the rookies have had ups and downs filling in as the primary backup point guard. Of course, Harris will be making his way back on to the court eventually, and it’s up to the rookies to make sure they aren’t pushed into a bench-warmer role when Harris comes back.
Gal Mekel is the rookie free agent from Israel who made his way to the NBA after winning MVP in the Israeli league twice. Shane Larkin is the Mavericks’ first-round draft pick from Miami. Mekel undeniably has more experience, given his success in the Israeli league, but Larkin arguably has more upside with his electrifying speed and pick-and-roll ability.
Unfortunately, neither one has been that great in their limited playing time. Mekel’s statistics are slightly better but only very slightly. Until Calderon returns, Mekel is penciled in as the temporary starter. Last game he was less than spectacular in the role, shooting just 3-of-12 from the floor to go with a decent seven assists. If he can continue to distribute like he did then but shoot more efficiently he’ll make a strong case for the backup role going forward.
On the other hand, Larkin has shown flashes of his potential but hasn’t been able to do it with any consistency. In most of his games he’s had absolutely no trouble with turnovers, getting one or zero in six of the eight games he’s played. However, in each of the other two games he’s had four turnovers. If Larkin can play more consistently, he could easily be the one to get more minutes.
The bottom line is that these players need to step up not only for themselves but also to help the team. The Mavericks need someone to fill in while Calderon is out, but they also need one of their players to take over the backup role for when he returns.