Not many people thought Salah Mejri would be playing a major role in the Mavs making the playoffs last season, however thats exactly what he did. Mejri was signed by the Mavs on July 30 2015, agreeing to a multiyear deal for the veteran minimum salary. At 30 years old, Mejri has had a long journey to making the NBA.
Born in Tunisia, he only started playing basketball at the age of 18 years old. Before he joined the Mavs, he played 2 seasons with Euroleague team Real Madrid, they also won the league in 2015.
Salah Mejri looked like he was just going to be a D-League player for the Mavs, until he had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in his NBA debut against OKC. For the first half of the season, Mejri was mostly playing with team Texas Legends. As Zaza Pachulia started to struggle after the all star break and the Mavs were losing many players to injuries, Rick Carlilse was forced to give Mejri more playing time. He proved he was a legitimate player who could rebound, defend the rim and score on the inside. He was a major reason the Mavs were the 6th seed in the West last season.
The Mavs acquired Andrew Bogut in a trade with the Warriors this offseason, although they let Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee join the Warriors. Mejri will go into the season as the primary backup center, with the rookie A.J. Hammons as the third option. Bogut has been an injury prone player throughout his career, so Mejri will have to be ready for the Mavs at all times, in the case Bogut gets injured. A.J. Hammons didn’t look NBA ready in the 2016 Summer League for the Mavs. Dwight Powell may have to play some center position for the Mavs this season to help out the Mavs at the center position.
With the Mavs having Bogut, Mejri, Anderson, Barnes and Matthews on the roster this season, they will be expected to be much improved defensively. If Bogut and Mejri can stay healthy for the majority of the season, they will have two great shot-blocking and rebounding big men. However if they can’t stay healthy, the Mavs may be in some serious trouble at the center position.