Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Dallas Mavericks' Preseason
Hear that wonderful racket? Basketball is back, ladies and gentlemen, in the form of the NBA preseason.
Although the preseason provides an early glimpse at a team's roster, remember it is similar to the classic television show Whose Line Is It Anyway; the points don't necessarily matter.
Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle looked for individual improvement and team chemistry in the early going, but I found some winners and losers during the first week of the Mavericks' preseason games.
Winner: Gal Mekel, Point Guard
Although the rookie point guard struggled at times during his 46 minutes of action by committing nine turnovers and five personal fouls, Gal Mekel snagged eight rebounds and tallied seven assists.
It is important to remember that the two exhibition games were Mekel's first career opportunities to suit up in an NBA uniform. He started in place of the Mavs' expected starting point guard Jose Calderon, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
Mekel had a rough start, but the Israeli point guard still has six more preseason contests to find a rhythm with his teammates, who seem willing to assist him every step of the way.
Loser: Samuel Dalembert, Center
Samuel Dalembert was signed during the offseason in hopes of shoring up the Dallas frontcourt.
He has played admirably well while on the court, connecting on 6-of-8 shots and grabbing nine rebounds, but that's the problem—he needs to be on the court.
The 6'11" center committed four fouls during a five-minute span against the Pelicans and, consequently, only played 11 minutes.
Just one game into the preseason, Carlisle called out Dalembert for his conditioning, as noted by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas.
It hasn't been a good start for the 12-year pro.
Winner: Wayne Ellington, Shooting Guard
Wayne Ellington's first-week performance put him in the right direction to solidify his role as the Mavericks' backup shooting guard.
He knocked down all three triples he attempted and grabbed six rebounds. He finished the week with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field in just over 40 minutes of work.
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News believes Ellington is a prime breakout candidate.
Loser: Devin Ebanks, Small Forward
Currently, Devin Ebanks is a fringe player for the Mavericks. The small forward gives Dallas plenty of depth at the position, but Jae Crowder is safely above him on the depth chart, yet Crowder is in the third string.
Ebanks is battling for a roster spot, but not getting playing time isn't helping his case.
After sitting out against the Pelicans, he garnered eight minutes, scored six points, snared two rebounds and blocked a shot in the win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
The Mavericks already have 15 guaranteed contracts, so Ebanks must wow the coaching staff to be kept on board, but it won't be easy to do with such limited minutes.
Winner: Monta Ellis, Shooting Guard
Monta Ellis showed flashes of why he was signed for three years and $25 million (h/t Hoopsworld).
He averaged 25 minutes, 12.5 points, 7.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 turnovers per game and posted an overall rating of plus-11. Often discussed for his poor shot selection, he connected on 3-of-5 three-pointers and shot 9-of-17 from the field.
Most importantly, however, he tallied 15 total assists. He showed solid decision-making ability, finding open teammates throughout his playing time.
Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram quotes Ellis as saying, "I'm just making the right play. A man is open, I've got two on me."
And if Ellis continues to pass instead of forcing bad shots, he will affirm that the Mavericks made the right decision in signing the streaky shooting guard.
Loser: Fab Melo, Center
The Fab Melo experiment failed in Boston, lasted 16 days in Memphis and is not off to a good start in Dallas.
He did not play against New Orleans and failed to make a good impression against the Grizzlies. He played 13 minutes, scored a single point and grabbed three rebounds, but he was whistled for three fouls.
Melo's roster spot is far from locked up, and he must make noticeable improvement to avoid getting cut before the preseason concludes.