2012-13 Stats: 26.9 minutes, 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .385 FG%, .317 3P%, .646 FT%, 12.3 PER
The object for Byron Mullens coming into this season is simple: don’t be terrible.
That’ll be pretty hard for the seven footer considering what he’s done in his career. His first two years as an Oklahoma City Thunder he didn’t deserve any playing time, but a move to the Charlotte Bobcats allowed him to show the world how good he really was.
Spoiler alert here: he didn’t capitalize on the opportunity. It’s been said since the signing, but Mullens is a floor-spreading big that can’t shoot. Last season his shooting splits (FG% – 3P% – FT%) were an atrocious 38/31/64. Of all the players to take at least 208 three-pointers last season, Mullens had the seventh worst percentage. That’s bad. And taking into consideration the amount of time put in by NBA players studying the traits and habits of the opposition, it’s a shock that defenders still respect Mullens’ presence on the perimeter.
And that’s what matters most. Mullens’ presence is more important than anything else he can provide to this team beside the actual three-point shooting. He’s shown throughout the preseason within Doc Rivers system he can get open. That isn’t the problem. The problem is he’s shooting 30 percent which is par the course for his entire career.
To be hopeful about the situation, you have to hope that less usage can equate to more efficient numbers. That’s usually the case in this league unless you’re a superstar and your shooting splits remain virtually the same as the usage increases. A jump in three-point percentage is the best case scenario for Mully. It’s unlikely he turns in Steve Novak overnight, but anything in the range of 36 percent would bode well for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Alas, the odds are against Byron. Rarely do players make a huge jump four years into their career. If so, it will be written off as an anomaly. Mullens to the Clippers was questioned when the rumors began, when the signing was announced and five games into the preseason. I’m quite the optimist when it comes to younger players developing and improving their game, but unless Mullens can capitalize on his strengths there is no way they balance out his weaknesses . Weaknesses that happen to overlap with the weaknesses of the team: big-man defense and rebounding.
It’s a bad match. Byron can only go up from what he pulled off last season, but he’ll have to prove that he can do it.