Mavericks: Huge Block From Tunisian Tower


New Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri makes multiple blocks of former Mavericks forward Al-Farouq Aminu at AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia.

If there’s one thing the Dallas Mavericks do very well, it’s scouring the globe for intriguing international talent. Future Hall of Fame power forward Dirk Nowitzki is just one example of that, and a very big one.

This offseason the Mavs have been busy trying to find a replacement for departed free agent Tyson Chandler, who bolted for the Phoenix Suns just hours into the free agent signing period last month.

In doing so, Dallas has had lots of attention focused on areas across the Atlantic ocean for future talent to develop and hopefully feature.

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In addition to Satnam Signh, the gigantic center from India that’s a ways off from making any kind of contributions, the Mavs inked Tunisian center Salah Mejri.

This well-traveled player from north Africa has played in his home country, Belgium and also Spain. Most recently, he was seen helping Spanish athletic power Real Madrid win the Euroleague championship over Greek multi-sport club Olympiacos. He also helped “Los Blancos” win the Spanish League (La Liga) over arch-rival Barcelona.

While it might be impressive watching this 7’1” player dominate lesser competition from around Europe, it’s even more impressive watching him do it against not only an NBA player, but a former Mavs player that Mavericks Nation just had the opportunity to watch last season.

Al-Farouq Aminu earned himself a big payday that the Mavs decided not to match following his breakout performance in 2014-15. His four-year, $30 million contract with the Portland Trailblazers signed in July speaks to the kind of athletic ability he’s expected to bring to a team trying to replace LaMarcus Aldridge.

To start with, Aminu is not a big time scorer, but rather a high-energy defensive presence that certainly showed with the Mavericks last season. He’ll likely do the same for the Trailblazers next season, but first thing’s first.

Aminu is representing the Nigerian national team at AfroBasket 2015, a continental basketball tournament taking place right now in Tunisia. The winner will qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics Basketball Tournament in Brazil.

So, there’s a lot on the line for both of these players, and especially Mejri, a guy who does not have a contract similar to Aminu’s.

The video above shows Mejri not only hitting a three-point shot – yes, a bucket beyond the arc – but also outstanding rejections of not one, but two drives to the basket by the more polished Aminu. has more on Mejri’s overall performance in Africa here.

This is some good looking stuff if you’re counting on Mejri as being a part of head coach Rick Carlisle‘s multi-headed monster under the rim next season, a fine strategy in wake of the summer dramatics of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

By the way, the NBA did manage to fine the Clippers $250,000 for their completely embarrassing actions during the re-recruitment of Jordan. For a franchise that’s worth $1.6 billion, that might as well be pennies, but it’s something, right?

Impressive is the fact that Aminu is known, beyond anything else, for his outstanding shot-blocking ability all over the court. He’s long, rangy and seems to have a tireless motor. You would have thought that he might have caught on to Mejri’s knack for doing the same, although it’s important to point out that the ex-Mav gives up some four inches to the “Tunisian Tower.”

Better yet for the Mavericks, Mejri seems to have some shooting ability to his game – hear that, Jordan? While we won’t expect Mejri to be the second coming of Nowitzki in the shooting department, his skill level in this area might be very underestimated at this point.

Losing out on Jordan might have hurt, but the first Tunisian-born player in the NBA might very well become a secret weapon that makes this team better than most expect in 2015-16.

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