|PER||PER Against (Net)|
|Byron Mullens||13.02||18.66 (-3.46)|
Strengths: Byron Mullens started the season off on an offensive hot streak that had the internet lauding the Bobcats savvy acquisition. Byron showed a good looking jumper out to just short of the three-point line. In part because of his offensive repertoire, Mullens was solid with the ball, turning it over with a turnover rate of just 10.5. Additionally, Byron is very large – this makes it easy for him to get his jumper off, rebound when he chooses to focus on it, and a decent shot blocker…
Weaknesses: …When he is in the right position on the court. Which is not often. Byron struggled mightily to play team defense this season, with the team allowing 110.2 points per 100 possessions with Byron on the court, but just 107.8 without him. Yeah – the league’s worst defense was even worse with Mullens manning the middle. As seen above, Byron surrendered an atrocious PER to his opposition, and the Net PER mark allowed was 445th of the just over 500 players this season in the NBA. Two other primary areas of weakness: Rebounding, at both ends of the court, and offensively, Byron’s habit of catching the ball at the top of the key, holding it for several seconds, surveying the court, and ultimately putting up the jumper was not the most efficient offensive move.
Reasons for Optimism: Byron showed improvement on the boards over the course of the season – he went from bottom quartile over the first half of the season to right around average in the second half. Oh, and that strong shooting start to the season is another reason for optimism – it was a string of strong performances from Byron and provides reason to think he could continue to do it in the future. And again, Byron provides size on the defensive end, he just needs to learn to use it.
Reasons for Pessimism: Byron’s defense this season was horrible. It’s hard to think about just how lost (and, at times, lazy) Byron looked in pick and roll coverage, and feel optimistic about him becoming a starting center. The same effort thought creeps in when considering his overall rebounding numbers – does Byron really love playing basketball?
Forecast: Byron Mullens will be back next season, barring a trade. The Bobcats acquired his rookie contract from the Thunder for a future second rounder, and the early returns were good. The Bobcats have a potential starting center in Mullens, and at worst a rotation quality big, out of a second rebound pick. Next season, Byron’s role will depend on who the Bobcats wind up drafting – if they get Anthony Davis, I expect Davis and Bismack to start next to each other, with Byron coming off the bench. But, if the Bobcats fall out of the top spot (again, the likely outcome, given their 25% chance at the top spot), Byron could be the Bobcats starting center next season. And I’d be ok with that. There’s potential there and that’s what the Bobcats are needing to identify and develop at this stage of building process.