LAS VEGAS -- Gal Mekel, 25, is beginning his journey to the NBA in the Las Vegas Summer League. The 6-foot-3 point guard spent two seasons at Wichita State University (2006-08) before leaving school early and starting his professional career in Europe. In his first season overseas, he was named the 2009 All-Israeli League Newcomer of the Year.
Last season, he led Maccabi Haifa to an Israeli League Championship en route to claiming his second Most Valuable Player award. Mekel averaged 13.3 points, 5.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 32.3 minutes in 30 games while shooting .525 from the field and .779 from the free throw line.
His signing with the Mavs is historic. The Petah Tikva, Israel native is just the second Israeli-born player to sign with an NBA team. He follows in the footsteps of veteran forward Omri Casspi.
Mekel’s game was pretty much a mystery coming into Vegas. Since his arrival, he’s shown some nice ability as a potential backup point guard for the Mavs.
Here’s some comments from Mekel from the summer league:
Q: For those who are unfamiliar with you, how would you describe your game?
Mekel: I’m a true point guard. I like to get everybody involved and make my teammates better. I want to help my team in every aspect of the game in order to help the team win.
Q: With the interest you generated around the league, why did you ultimately choose Dallas as the place to start your NBA career?
Mekel: I know that I had some pretty good interest around the league. When I came to Dallas to talk to them, I knew it was a great club and organization. It has great people in it, and that’s really important to me. For me, it’s the best choice.
Q: What ultimately led to making the choice to coming back home and pursuing your NBA career?
Mekel: For every basketball player, the dream is to play in the NBA. I had a very good season last year. Last summer when I worked out with Utah, I saw that the dream was possible. I came this summer to the states with a feeling that I could do it. When the opportunity came, it’s something you don’t want to miss. I’m going to give it everything I can to make this dream come true.
Q: What is one aspect of your game that you feel needs the most help right away?
Mekel: We’re working on the 3-point shot. That’s one of the biggest adjustments for me, the 3-point line. I have to bring more power to the shot. We’re working on that. I was happy because (coach Rick Carlisle) said I’m already improving, so we’re going to keep it going.
Q: Even with the success overseas, do you have a lot to prove over here?
Mekel: Of course. I have to adjust to the American game. It’s a different game with different speeds. Guys are definitely much more athletic. I’m willing to learn and I want to learn. I’ll definitely have to adjust, but I’m looking forward to learning.
Q: How does it feel to have the chance to show what you can do in the NBA?
Mekel: It’s a big thing. It’s the first thing for me to gain confidence and trust from the coaches and the teammates. I’m looking forward to playing good in the summer league and helping the team.