During his daily workouts this summer, Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri estimates that he’s attempted approximately 500 shots a day. Make that approximately 500 3-point shots a day.
The ritual is part of Mejri’s attempt to expand his game beyond the painted area while making himself more of a viable threat at the offensive end of the floor. Since really tall guys shooting 3-pointers has become all the rage in the NBA, Mejri knows that philosophy could also help extend his career.
“I will warm up with some twos and pick-and-rolls and floaters, but the workout for 45 minutes to an hour is based on threes,” Mejri said. “I’ve been working on them and I’m going to keep working on them. I’m shooting close to 500 shots a day – maybe more.”
Mejri said late in this past season coach Rick Carlisle approached him about hoisting up more 3-pointers as a means of possibly adding more years onto his career while also making it more difficult for defenders to guard him. On cue, in the final 13 games of the season, Mejri was 10-of-27 from 3-point range after going just 1-of-7 from downtown in his other 23 games this past season.
That includes going 2-of-4 from 3-point range during an Apr. 1 game against Philadelphia, 2-of-3 from downtown on Apr. 5 against Memphis, and 2-of-5 on Apr. 7 against Memphis.
By contrast, the 7-2, 235-pounder didn’t attempt any 3-pointers during the 2015-’16 and ’17-’18 seasons, and was only 1-of-3 from beyond the 3-point arc during the ‘16-’17 season.
“To be honest, in Europe I’ve been shooting a lot of threes, international threes,” said Mejri, who hails from Tunisia. “But when I got here, they said, ‘Look, the shooters are the shooters, the rebounders are the rebounders, the shot-blockers are the shot-blockers. Everybody has his job to do, and for us this is what you have to do.’
“So I focused on doing that and it was a great role for me. My role was to block shots, bring energy, sometimes change games, get them (up) when the team is down and just go in there and do something, as the coach always says. Go do something. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.”
Once this season ended in April, Mejri said he took two weeks off and went back home, then came back to Dallas and worked out for a month before taking another two weeks off, and then returning to the Metroplex last Sunday and starting more workouts. Along the way, Mejri and Mavs rookie point guard Luka Doncic went to Madrid and watched their old team – Real Madrid – play.
Mejri and Doncic also attended the always popular UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League Final soccer game on June 1 in Madrid, which Liverpool won over Tottenham, 2-0. And guess who sat next to Mejri?
It was Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Trae Young. The same Trae Young who is the leading challenger in Doncic’s bid to win the Rookie of the Year trophy at the NBA Awards show on June 24.
“All of these NBA people were in (Madrid) for the soccer game – the Champions League Final,” Mejri said. “I sat next to Trae and I had a chance to talk to him, too. His father was there, too.
“Luka sat in the suite. I don’t like the suites. When it comes to soccer I like to be on the bench. It’s different for Luka to be close to the bench with all his fans. They were nice to me and I haven’t been there for four years, but for Luka it would be a bit complicated, so he sat up there in the suites.”
Meanwhile, Mejri, who becomes a free agent on June 30, hopes to return next season for his fifth year with the Mavs. He sees a huge turnaround coming for the Mavs next season, especially with the addition of 7-3 center Kristaps Porzingis, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the New York Knicks on Jan. 31.
“I worked a little bit with Kristaps one-on-one,” said Mejri, who turns 33 on Saturday. “Maybe I’m the only guy on the team who can play with him, because of his height and length. He’s way taller than (the 6-11) Maxi (Kleber), and people who are going to guard (Porzingis) are 7-footers. He’s long and he’s good. He reminds me of Dirk (Nowitzki), but he’s way longer than Dirk.
“We did one-on-ones a couple of times on the road and here (in Dallas) when he was getting back, and I really loved it. I love competition, I love to do those things. I guess when he’s back here, hopefully I’ll be here and for sure we’re going to play some.”
And possibly engage in a friendly game of 3-point shooting.