The first Israeli player in the NBA hasn’t been a huge success after his rookie season, but there’s already a high potential for a second player from Israel, Gal Mekel, entering the league, with the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors all showing interest in the 25-year old point guard.
Mekel spent two years playing for Wichita State (2006-2008), not putting up impressive numbers (6.7 points, 2.7 assists), but after his return to Israel has turned into one of the nation’s best players, winning two league titles away from eternal champions Maccabi Tel-Aviv, while winning two Israeli Basketball Super League Most Valuable Player Awards.
After the relative success of Pablo Prigioni, coming to the NBA at the age of 35 after a long career in Europe and having no problems settling for the New York Knicks, teams are looking into European free agents working out as well as draft prospects.
Mekel, who played last season for Maccabi Haifa (winning the championship), but has also played for Benetton Treviso in Italy and was coached by Brad Greenberg, the former GM of the Philadelphia 76ers and later an assistant head coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, has put in a very impressive workout for the Bucks last week, and will now move on to the Mavs, already high on what they’re hearing about him.
Mekel is a rather big point guard at 6’4 and 190 pounds, and there are some who think he might be more suited for the NBA game than he is for the international style, similar to Will Bynum (Pistons), who also played for Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the past.
Mekel is an excellent ball-handler in pick & roll situations, which is relatively easier to handle and distinguish yourself at in the NBA, compared to Europe, with a lot more zone defense and clogged paints and driving lanes.
Once he’s done working out for the Mavs, there’s a good chance he’ll add a third stop to his auditions tour of North America, with the Toronto Raptors also hoping to get a look at him before it’s time to start signing free agents.