As Byron Mullens exploded onto the scene with the Bobcats early in the season he shocked many people with his ability to score the ball, albeit it was mostly just off pick-and-roll, step out jump shots. Mullens ability to hit the mid-range jumper is well documented at this point, and that was cute while it lasted, but it doesn’t seem to be a trend that will continue long term.
Mullens past 5 games- 23.4 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 37.2 FG%, 3.4 RPG.
Mullens can be a good change of pace center in this league with his ability to stretch defenses and knock down the mid-range jumper. He also does a decent job in running the floor in transition, offensively. What Mullens lacks is the ability to do just about anything good on the defensive end. Not only is Mullens an extremely low IQ player on the defensive end, but he also regularly lacks the effort.
Let’s take a look Mullens lack of defensive concepts.
Mullens must understand that an undersized team such as CHA must hedge hard and high on PnR situations, not allowing guards any space to penetrate deeper towards basket. He clearly plays off Fields way too much on the PnR allowing him to get into second level of Bobcats shell defensively.
Here, we see Mullens fail to communicate with Henderson that a screen is coming (he’s clearly surprised to see Chandler), allow the switch on the screen, and then attempt (?) a pitiful reach around steal on Fields as he attacks the rim basically without contest. The worst part about all of this is the Bobcats, as a team, do a good job rotating down defensively, but Mullens is so out of position by the time this video ends that it’s simply comical.
You may watch this next clip and proclaim that Mullens stayed with his man and it’s actually Kemba that was beat, and you’re half right. But this is as much Mullens fault as it is Kemba’s because Kemba is inviting Shumpert baseline, knowing he has Mullens cutting it off and someone rotating down (Tyrus) to pick up Chandler. Since Mullens chooses to retreat back to his man, it throws off the whole defensive shift and Shumpert gets a free layup that he somehow missed.
Now that you’ve seen Mullens lack of recognition on the PnR, let’s have a glance at a clip that shows how much of a defensive liability Mullens is around the block. Here, Carlos Boozer, who is technically a PF, just bullies Mullens as he backs him down extremely easily and flips up a simple hook shot. As you watch Boozer back Mullens down, watch how Mullens body just cannot absorb any of the contact.
Mentioned earlier was Mullens ability to knock down the mid-range jumper- everyone knows this by now because it seems to be the only shot he’ll take. This clip shows Mullens start to attempt an offensive move with his back to the basket, but then become extremely uncomfortable, flip his body to face up and settle for a low percentage fadeaway jumper.
I saved the worst for last. Let me say that every Bobcat is certainly guilty of this during the unbearable struggle on the court this season, but Mullens happens to be the caught in spotlight here. Watch as the Bobcats get into their set and Mullens walking to the elbow. Just calmly taking his time- no sense of urgency whatsoever. Last time I checked, this team was consistently getting blown out on a nightly basis, and therefore they have to play twice as hard as their opponent to compete. The simple act of Mullens walking to his spot here is a complete lack of energy and head scratcher for a guy you would think has something to prove. It’s the little things.
Okay, now that I’ve probably seriously upset ‘Mullens Mafia’ with what seems to be a roast of the guy’s overall game, let me just say that I’m not anti-Byron Mullens. I simply decided to watch him closely in the past few weeks and evaluate him as a player because of all the hype that has come to surround him as an up and coming player in this league (only 22 years old).
The ultimate goal with this post is to point out that Byron Mullens should not be a starting center in this league, because of the deficiencies listed above. You don’t hear of ‘change of pace’ centers too much in this league, but I believe that’s exactly what Mullens is. He’s a nice compliment off the bench and I think his time in Charlotte has merely just begun, but let’s all except the reality check here- not the starting center for the Bobcats in the future.