The Smoking Cuban
Mavs News

Salah Mejri Coming on Strong for the Dallas Mavericks

Mar 20, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri (50) yells as he reacts to a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center. The Mavs beat the Trail Blazers 132-120 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri (50) yells as he reacts to a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center. The Mavs beat the Trail Blazers 132-120 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

He’s been in and out of the lineup throughout his rookie campaign, but after injury and the need to shake things up, Salah Mejri could end up being the answer to getting in to the playoffs.

The Dallas Mavericks’ center-by-committee rotation seems to have finally made it around to Salah Mejri. The 29-year old rookie waited patiently while Zaza Pachulia started off strong before running out of gas, while the JaVale McGee experiment ran it’s course, and while David Lee came in to steal minutes in the middle.

Now, with Chandler Parsons out for the season and that version of small-ball a thing of the past, Mejri is getting his chance. Mejri, a fan-favorite, has started the last two games for the Mavericks. In those two games (both against the Portland Trail Blazers) Mejri averaged 13.5 points on 55% shooting, and 13 rebounds in just over 31 minutes per.

The NBA green thumb is still prone to rookie mistakes and could certainly use some more work in some areas (footwork, passing out of the post, strength and control with the ball) but he adds something to the defense that the Mavericks have been struggling to replace since Tyson Chandler fled to Phoenix and DeAndre Jordan decided to stay in LA: rim protection.

In his limited action this season we’ve witnessed Mejri deny some of the league’s most explosive athletes and dangerous scorers. If Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard didn’t know who he was before they saw him and his giant mitts waiting at the tin, they surely know now. Mejri is blocking 3.0 shots per 36-minutes this season and had six of them against Portland in their recent meeting at the American Airlines Center.

Mejri makes this block on a two-handed dunk attempt by Gerald Henderson look really easy, when in fact, it was not.

McGee doesn’t even dress for games anymore, Pachulia has all but fallen out of the rotation entirely, and it would be easy to forget that Dwight Powell was even still on the roster. So it appears as if Rick Carlisle will be stickin’ with Salah down the stretch.

If he can maintain his efficacy on the defensive glass and deter driving opponents, he’ll have done his job. Any scoring from him is just gravy. But will the insertion of Mejri into the starting lineup help get the Mavericks into postseason play?

Maybe, maybe not. But his presence in the middle defensively and on the boards should help keep the Mavericks in games and allow other players to focus on what they do best. Dallas faces some really talented front court players on teams fighting for playoff spots as the regular season winds down, but if there’s one thing certain about Mejri it’s that he’s ready to compete.

Next: 3 Postives from Parsons Injury

If the Mavericks do end up finishing among the top-8 teams in the Western Conference, there’s a good chance Salah Mejri will have been a big reason why.

facebooktwitterreddit