This upcoming season is set to be a make or break year for Salah Mejri. The third-year Tunisian center who stands at 7-feet-2 inches is entering the final year of a 3-year $2.4 million contract with the Mavericks.
Mejri has had a defined role within the Mavericks organization as a high-motored “enforcer” center. He is very consistent in making his presence known, battling within the friendly confines of the painted area. Players must enter that area with caution and always have to account for Mejri, thanks to his impressive length and his quick-twitched explosiveness. He has been a stable presence for the Maverick bench mob the last two seasons, but with center position across the league in a state of flux, and the addition Jeff Withey internally for the Mavs, the 31-year-olds future beyond this season looks to be a little murky.
Let’s rewind and review a season that was for Salah Mejri.
2016–2017 Season In Review
Expectations seemed to be pretty level for Mejri heading into last season. It was his second season in the league for the then 30-year-old center. Mejri appeared in 73 games, a new career high, after appearing in only 43 games in 2015-2016. He averaged 2.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game. Very modest per-game numbers, but when you adjust those numbers to per-36, his stats averaged out to be 8.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks.
Salah’s most consistent stretch of the season occurred during the end of November trickling right into December. Of his 73 games played for Mejri, just 10 of those games resulted in the big man logging more than 20 minutes of action. 8 of those 10 games came in December. Unfortunately, Mejri minutes were inconsistent outside of those stretch of games. He logged 27 games in which he did not break the 10-minute mark.
Salah’s top two games of the season occurred in games number 43 and 48 both versus weaker Eastern Conference opponents, the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic. The Philadelphia game Merji posted 16 points with 17 rebounds and was +18 while on the court. He did all of that damage in only 21 minutes. You can see by these highlights that Mejri has potential to be a very valuable backup big man in the NBA.
Mejri does possess skill as a roll man within Rick Carlisle’s pick-and-roll centric scheme. He ranked in the 97th percentile averaging 1.44 points-per-possession as the roll-man in the pick-and-roll for players with at least 50 possessions per, Synergy. Last season he used his length to his advantage as the roll-man, finishing a high percentage of shots at the rim. If he can consistently finish at the rim off of the pick-and-roll, look for Carlisle to up Mejri’s possessions within the pick-and-roll next season. 1
2017-2018 Season Outlook
Last summers unprecedented cap explosion sent ripples down the leagues spine. Centers like Timofey Mozgov and Bismack Biyombo inked astronomical deals. It was a rare imbalance in the system and could have sent the wrong message about getting paid big money to the rest of the big men around the league. This offseason, the center market has been non-existent. Noel thought he would land a max contract, he ended up taking the $4.1 million dollar qualifying offer. It’s becoming a harsh reality that last years offseason may have been the big men’s only opportunity to really cash in. For Mejri his on-court production will justify what he gets paid. His $1.4 million dollar salary will be the highest of his career this season in Dallas.
Overall, the backup center position will be an interesting one for the Mavericks going forward. With the likes of Jeff Withey and Josh McRoberts in the fold, Mejri is going to have to earn every minute he is given. The Mavericks may even keep Dirk at center which would push the big up biggers even further down the depth chart. If Mejri continues to do his job night-in-and-night-out, he’ll have no problem maintaining the current role he has on the team. The Mavericks may have brought the new blood into the roster to try to push Mejri’s development further. It will be interesting to see how things unfold when the season kicks off on October 18th.
- Mejri finished with 50 total possessions as the roll man in the PNR. DeAndre Jordan finished with 171 possessions.
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