DALLAS -- Rick Carlisle knows this wasn't exactly the best way for Gal Mekel to be introduced to the NBA.
With Jose Calderon (hamstring), Devin Harris (toe) and Shane Larkin (ankle) all out nursing various inuries, Mekel was thrust into the starting point guard role for the Mavs during their first four preseason games. And things didn't precisely go well for the rookie from Israel, which shouldn't have been as a surprise to any on-lookers.
"This is a very difficult thing to do is take a guy who is a young European player and just toss him into an NBA starting lineup for four games,'' Carlisle, the Mavs' coach, said. "But he understands the magnitude of the opportunity, he's working extremely hard and he’ll get better.''
In the four preseason games, Mekel has 21 points, 12 rebounds, 19 assists and 17 turnovers. He also is only 8-of-28 from the field, including 0-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc in 24.8 minutes per game.
"It's new, and I'm learning every practice and every game, and I think I'm making progress every game,'' Mekel said. "This is what preseason is for.
"It's good for me to get those minutes pretty early to get used to everything, and I'm trying to learn every second.''
While every second he's on the court is precious towards Mekel's overall development, Carlisle knows the Mavs must be patient. Mekel proved that by having his best game thus far on Wednesday when he had seven points, six assists and a preseason-low three turnovers in the 92-85 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Calderon, meanwhile, will make his debut with the Mavs when he'll start Saturday's game against the Charlottle Bobcats. That'll afford Mekel some time to sit on the bench and watch the Mavs' No. 1 playmaker run the offense.
"He’s learned a ton in a short period of time,'' Carlisle said of Mekel. "There's no substitute for this kind of experience.
"He continues to get better, gradually, as he goes along.''
-- Dwain Price
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