Salah Mejri may not be a starter on the Dallas Mavericks but that doesn’t mean he’s not important to their success this season
When the Dallas Mavericks announced they re-signed reserve center Salah Mejri, many fans turned up their noses. “The Mej” has developed quite the reputation here in Dallas. The tenacious competitor and abrasive personality has made him a distraction at times. And often, his minimal contributions aren’t worth the hassle.
The 7’2” product of Tunisia may only be in his third year, but he’s 32-years old and subsequently on the downslope of his career. If you couple his age with his slight statistical regression, it’s understandable why fans may prefer the Dallas Mavericks to develop someone with potential rather than ride a veteran.
The thought is you can find 3.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks just about anywhere. Why not give Salah’s 12 minutes per game to someone who’s younger and shows more promise. At the very least they’ll be more mentally stable, right?
Perhaps we’re looking at this all the wrong way. Yes, the Mej is a headache and not always a reliable presence but he’s also a thorn in the side of virtually everyone he faces. Mej isn’t intimidated by anyone and he loves to show the world that.
You can’t teach size and Salah is 7’2” 235lbs with a pretty good vertical. He’s a rim protector defensively and an opportunist on the offensive end. He provides both a spark off the bench and edge on defense. He’s basically the goon of the team and on a team feared by few, that’s a valuable role.
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Forget the role he’s going to play with rookie Luka Doncic. It’s the role he’ll play with free agent signee DeAndre Jordan I’m more interested in. Jordan regressed last season on the defensive end and much of that appears to be born of effort (or lack thereof). Jordan isn’t going to sit happily back and watch Salah get those highlight rejections while he’s catching a break on the bench. I expect them both to feed off of each other and strive to show the other one up.
The Dallas Mavericks are pretty deep in the frontcourt right now. They have Jordan, Dirk Nowtizki, Harrison Barnes and Dwight Powell all fighting for minutes. And we can expect Doncic to snag some minutes on the front line as well.
The Mavs will be hard pressed to guarantee minutes to anyone outside of that group. That’s why having a vet accustomed to coming off the bench may not be such a terrible idea. Some games he’ll play, others he won’t. Salah Mejri is still averaging over 10 points, 12 boards, and 3 blocks per 36-minutes played after all. That’s pretty good production.
With better talent around him this season, Mejri stands to improve his productivity on the court. He also stands to increase his value around the NBA. By the time the trade deadline rolls around, having a reliable rim protector playing on a minimum salary may be attractive to a playoff contending team.
Salah Mejri isn’t going to suddenly be a star. Heck, he’s probably not going to be anything more than he is right now. But that’s really enough. And maybe the Mavs can turn that into something more when all is said and done.
- Published on 09/11/2018 at 17:01 PM
- Last updated at 09/11/2018 at 15:14 PM