LAS VEGAS -- The Gal Mekel bandwagon just added one important member: Mavs owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban made a surprise appearance in Las Vegas and observed the team’s 95-89 victory Wednesday in their first-round game of the summer league championship tournament. Citing that he saw the previous three games Dallas had played in, Cuban said he might see a potential gem in the Israeli point guard.
“There are basketball skills and then there are skills above the neck,” Cuban said. “In terms of understanding the game and basketball IQ, he sees it before it happens, and that’s rare to find. You don’t see that a lot.
“I’m excited to see how well he’ll do. He’ll keep on getting better.”
Mekel was pleased to hear the owner's comments.
“That’s great,” the 6-foot-3 guard said with a smile. “When the big boss is saying good stuff, it’s always good to hear.”
Mekel’s performance in the first-round victory was actually a little flat compared to his previous outings. He had nine points and four assists, but he came on strong in the fourth quarter, leaving his imprint on the game on the offensive end of the floor. He worked alongside Jae Crowder and the two of them carved up the Clippers defense with their pick-and-roll game.
“I’m really happy that in the fourth quarter coach trusted me and Jae, and we ran basically the same play all the time and it got us going and good things came.” Mekel said.
The guard has struggled with his 3-point shot over the course of the summer league but hit one that broke a 76-76 tie with 4:20 left in the game. The Mavs never relinquished the lead from there. It was a big shot, but there’s something Mekel will remember more in the game: the two missed free throws he had with just over 90 seconds left in the game.
“I don’t know how I missed two free throws in a row,” Mekel said. “It never happened to me in my life. I owe the team some free throws. I hope they’ll come in the next game.”
Even through the growing pains the summer league has presented, Mekel continues to show that he’s a pass-first point guard who can control the flow of the game. And when it was needed, Mekel showed in the fourth quarter that he has the awareness to turn into a scoring threat.
Prior to the leaving Vegas, Rick Carlisle noticed one thing about Mekel’s game, and Cuban recognizes it as well.
“He keeps on getting better,” Cuban said. “He’s got to improve his shot, but we’ll work with him on that. If he gets that shot down, he’s going to be really good.”
The Mavs were hoping to see what Shane Larkin could do in the summer league, but in his absence they have received a pleasant surprised with the development of Mekel’s game.