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By developing new skills, Salah Mejri showed he still has a place in the NBA

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In his fourth season, Salah Mejri adapted his game to hopefully extend his career.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

After four years in the league, this year presented Salah Mejri with the most challenges — but the most opportunity for growth.

Mejri played his fewest games since his rookie season but also made a significant impact on the team as a mentor and role model for Luka Doncic.

Looking Back

The trade that sent Harrison Barnes to the Kings also brought Zach Randolph for the briefest of moments. It also meant the Mavericks had to cut Salah Mejri, only to bring him back three days later.

Around that time Rick Carlisle told the media he had a talk with Salah about how to extend his NBA career by developing his three-point shot. Before the second half of this season, Mejri attempted nine threes and only made one. After re-signing with the team, Mejri made 11-32 triples; good for 35 percent.

After a game where he made multiple threes Mejri asked why the media and fans were so surprised he could shoot so well. He told the media he shot plenty with Real Madrid but when he got to the NBA nobody wanted him to shoot.

Sure enough, you just have to go find some old videos to see that Mejri is right. They also showed some incredible skills Salah has rarely showed off in his NBA minutes.

Salah Mejri’s greatest game of his career came this season in a tankathon matchup for the ages in Memphis April 7th. Luka Doncic was sidelined due to injury and none of the starters played a single minute of overtime. On a crazy final possession Salah Mejri grabbed the fourth offensive rebound of a single possession on a put back layup to tie the game and send it to overtime. Salah Mejri started overtime on a personal 7-0 run to seal the win.

He finished the game with a career-high 19 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, 1 crossover dunk and 1 step back three. This game would have been utterly meaningless were it not the Salah Mejri experience on steroids.

This season Mejri’s assist numbers skyrocketed from a career 2 assists per 100 possessions to 4.3 in 2018-19. He still brings rebounding and interior defense which the Mavericks still sorely need.

Contract Status

Mejri is an unrestricted free agent this offseason but he hasn’t played anywhere besides Dallas in his NBA career. Mejri has only signed minimum level NBA contracts so there’s no reason to think he won’t be back with the team for a fifth season in 2019-20. The franchise knows him and likes him. He has a relationship with their young star. It just makes sense.

Looking forward

With Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement, more bench minutes have opened up for bigs. If Dallas decides to start Powell at center alongside Porzingis that opens up a significant spot in the rotation alongside Maxi Kleber for Salah Mejri to fill.

Luka Doncic’s relationship with Salah Mejri may be a small reason the Mavericks want to bring him back, but Dallas loved Mejri’s game long before they landed Luka.

After four seasons in the NBA Salah Mejri started to feel his place in the NBA start slipping away. Because of his hard work and ability to adapt to the modern NBA he proved he still has the ability to add value to a playoff-hungry team.