Time heals all… except when a signing that was deemed a poor signing is seen as such in a years time. Just over a year ago, the Los Angeles Clippers officially announced the signing of stretch forward Byron Mullens.
No one knows what Doc Rivers saw in Byron Mullens.
Prior to his brief stint with the Los Angeles Clippers, Mullens failed to prove useful during his time with the then-Charlotte Bobcats. As I summed up following the signing, the Clippers locked themselves into a player known for his offense who was never good at offense.
And offensively speaking? He isn’t that good. Stretch big? He shot 31 percent from three last season which is a hash higher than the his career average. Overall? He shot 38 percent from the field. That’s worse than any center who played 25+ minutes and20+ games last season by a convincing five percent. He even shot a poor number from the free-throw line. While he’s a stretch big he definitely isn’t a good one.
Maybe it was Mullens’ performances against the Boston Celtics throughout his career–recency bias is one heck of an issue in the NBA. Per Basketball-Reference, Mullens averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in six games against Boston, shooting 50 percent from the field and 54 percent from behind three. He even put together this 25 point, 18 rebound, 4 assist performance against Rivers’ Celtics.
Unfortunately for Rivers–and Mullens–there are 28 other teams in the NBA and the Mullens he saw against the Celtics was nowhere near the guy other teams witnessed.
In 267 minutes, the advanced statistics matched what the eyes showed us: Mullens was a poor player and he was hurting the Clippers on both ends of the floor. The offensive rating dropped from 109 to 101, the defensive rating jumped from 101 to 114, and the turnover percentage increased from 14% to 17%.
What we didn’t know a year ago was the Byron Mullens signing stood as a precursor to Doc Rivers’ never-ending search for a stretch big. Antawn Jamison. Hedo Turkoglu. Glen Davis. Spencer Hawes. In an attempt to fill out the roster, Rivers has plain fallen in love with bigs that can spread the floor. Considering the way the game is evolving this comes as little surprise, but he’s sacrificed the teams ability to defend and rebound for more offense. For a defense-first coach, these decision are a bit wonky, but because of his background, many have yet to begin questioning Doc Rivers.
In the end, Mullens was shipped off to the Philadelphia 76ers at the trade deadline alongside a 2018 second-round pick in what is commonly known as a salary dump, ending an era on critical and extreme ineptness.
All hail Byron Mullens.