From the hard streets of Petah Tikva, Mekel showed flashes of greatness early in his rookie season with the Mavericks. Of course, Mekel, 26, is a lot older than your average rookie. Nevertheless, coming out of Israel, Mekel was facing a lot of underrated pressure to gain acceptance in the league.
Before Mekel tore his meniscus in January, the former Wichita State Shockers star point guard was dazzling the Mavericks with his out-of-this world (or, at least, country) passing skills. Whenever head coach Rick Carlisle gave Mekel appropriate minutes, Mekel more than impressed, had four games with six or more assists.
Although not as physically skilled as Shane Larkin, Mekel has advantages over his younger teammate. At 6-foot-3, Mekel has the ideal height of a point guard, unlike Larkin who’s under 6-feet. Mekel’s experience includes the same amount of years at college, but, unlike Larkin, in the preseason last year, Mekel got good minutes and passed the ball like a prime Mark Jackson.
Mavericks GM and president Donnie Nelson knew what he was doing when he signed Mekel out of Israel. The last two years of Mekel’s contract will pay him about double of what he made in his rookie season, and Nelson was no doubt looking into his crystal ball, seeing an increased role for Mekel.
Mekel is a forgotten man, but he isn’t going anywhere. He was signed to be a part of the Mavericks’ future and he’s no doubt collected all the information he needs for the downfall of his fellow point guards in Dallas. Like J.J. Barea before him, Mekel, the owner of the NBA’s coolest name, will seize the day when it gets here.