Gal Mekel, Ricky Ledo look to make strides in second summer with Mavs

One-on-one with Kaleb Canales's Earl K. Sneed goes one-on-one with the Mavericks 2014 summer league head coach Kaleb Canales.

DALLAS — The second time around can be better than the first. Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo certainly hope that’s the case.

With former first-round acquisition Shane Larkin now in New York via the multi-player trade that brought back center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to Dallas, all eyes will now be on the progression of Mekel and Ledo as they get set to lead the Mavericks’ summer-league squad.

As both enter Year 2 with the Mavericks, Mekel and Ledo will get a chance to showcase the strides they’ve made after limited playing time during the 2013-14 season. Both young guards now hope to take full advantage of the opportunity that lays in front of them, as Mekel tries to shake off a midseason injury and Ledo looks to learn from his time in the Development League.

“You know, I think [Mekel’s] and Ricky’s personal goals and our team concept kind of align together,” Mavs assistant and summer-league head coach Kaleb Canales said of the pair, “in terms of seeing that next step for both of them to progress and develop and see things that we want to see as an organization on the floor from them.”

Playing in 31 games as a 25-year-old rookie and former two-time Israeli MVP, Mekel averaged 2.4 points and 2.0 assists before undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee on Jan. 17 that ended his season. Now, Mekel will try to show that he can bounce back from the knee surgery while also improving his perimeter shooting, connecting on only 34.9 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from behind the arc in his first year.

“We’ll see how different it is. I still don’t know,” Mekel said as he heads into his second summer of work as an NBA point guard. “I’m excited, because I didn’t play for a long time after the injury, and finally I feel very good. No pain at all and I really feel perfect, so I’m excited to be back playing.

“[Outside shooting] is what me and the coaches are talking about, especially the three-point shots. If I’m going to make them consistently and a good percentage, I can really help our team during the season. And this is what I want to work on.”

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Ledo will try to simply show that he belongs on an NBA roster after spending most of the season with the Mavs’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

The 6-foot-7 Ledo appeared in just 11 games for the Mavericks after sitting out a year of basketball at Providence. He averaged just 1.7 points while shooting 35.3 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from three-point range in limited playing time. Ledo also averaged 13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 39 games for the Legends.

Still, the 43rd pick in last year’s draft says he has much more to do in order to impress the Mavs’ coaching staff this summer.

“I think this will be like one of the biggest summers in my career,” Ledo confessed. “I’ve been in the NBA for a year now and I’m not a rookie anymore. So, just to show all the hard work that I’ve done and where it’s going to go, I just want to be a leader and show by example. Just be one of the best players in summer league, show that I can be a great team player and just show what I can do to my best ability.”

Both Ledo and Mekel will now get a chance to measure their improvements immediately against their former teammate when summer-league play begins against Larkin and the Knicks on Friday.