NBA Summer League Review 2010: Orlando Player Profiles August 10, 2010 The second leading scorer on what amounted to a veritable Summer League All-Star team, Byron Mullens was a very pleasant surprise in Orlando. He struggled notably at times, but looked more comfortable on the block despite not finishing all of his opportunities with his back to the basket. He flashed some intriguing up and under moves from the left block and beat his man off the dribble facing up from the right side on more than a few occasions. Though he wasn't always finishing the play, Mullens showed much better timing on his cuts and when ducking in down low. On a few occasions, Mullens stepped away from the rim to show off his jumper, but he's at his best using his physical tools down low, and it appears that he's beginning to play with the energy and intensity that would allow him to become a useful NBA player.
Defensively, Mullens took very few risks and seemed to let his size do the work for him and not make the mistakes that plague most young big men. While that is a promising sign, Mullens still needs to continue to improve his activity level on the floor to become a better defensive rebounder and show that he can stay out of foul trouble against better competition. With Cole Aldrich entering the fold, this will be a pivotal season for Mullens to earn minutes and accelerate his development or continue learning from the bench or the Thunder's D-League squad, Tulsa. [Read Full Article] NBA Combine Media Availability Interviews May 29, 2009
• B.J. Mullens can catch and finish as well as anyone, but he has an extremely hard time creating his own shot.
The third one-and-done center from Ohio State in as many years, B.J. Mullens did not have the type of year some expected him to have. Operating under the shadow of last year's outrageously talented freshman class, Mullens made some strides as the season went on. Before we talk about what held him back, lets to a look at what he already does well. His 1.41 PPP as a finisher was amongst the best in our entire database, which backs up the perception that Mullens is an unusually gifted athlete with very solid hands. Unfortunately, he only got 3.6 opportunities to finish each game, which was far below the average for big men we looked at. Possessing nice speed for a player his size, Mullens is also capable of getting up and finishing in transition according to his situational stats, but he didn't get all that many opportunities to do so, going 12/14 on the year.
On the block, Mullens scored .85 PPP on 2.8 possessions per game, which is not very impressive. His post game obviously lacks polish, and he clearly has a tendency to force the issue, which you can see in his incredibly poor passing rate, which rival only Hasheem Thabeet in this draft. Still, you would expect to see him get a few more touches in the post considering how few other offensive options Ohio State had this season.
Despite the lack of touches, Mullens had a relatively efficient year with the possessions he did receive, scoring %59.7 of his possessions, good for second amongst all centers. Blessed with awesome athleticism and possessing great hands, Mullens has some unique tools. However, he's going to need a lot of help to achieve his potential. He has more going for him than Thabeet did at that point in his career, but is nowhere near the defensive presence, and thus may very well have to develop his game while riding the pine, since he's not likely to get a lot of playing time right away. Mullens will have to put in the work in on his own if he's to earn playing time, and thus will have to develop a good deal of self-discipline with his work ethic if he's to reach his potential. [Read Full Article] NCAA Weekly Performers, 3/16/09 March 16, 2009 One of the more intriguing prospects in this freshman class, especially from a physical standpoint, B.J. Mullens has had an up and down freshman campaign. Things haven't changed very much for the young seven footer since we last wrote about him in December, but after a full season in college, including all of conference play, a more complete picture can now be drawn.
From a skills standpoint, there really isn't much to say about Mullens at this stage, as most of his production in all areas of the game come directly from his excellent physical attributes. The vast majority of his offense comes off of pick-and-rolls, alley-oops, transition lay-ups, and wide open dump offs in the lane -- all catch-and-finish moves. As we previously wrote, Mullens' size and tremendous mobility make him a huge asset as a finisher, something he's done a good job taking advantage of throughout the season, usually showing a desire to get open while often calling for the ball.
With his size and athleticism, Mullens isn't often strongly contested when he gets to the rim at this level, so it's no surprise he ranks in the 96th percentile of finishers at the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology. At the next level, however, Mullens will need to show a bit more of a mean streak at the rim, making better use of his explosive power, something he doesn't need to rely on much in college. The fact that his frame can probably support another 10-15 pounds of muscle without much detriment will certainly help him down the line. Playing with a good point guard will be a must regardless of where he ends up, as he really has outstanding potential in this area.
As a back-to-the-basket player, Mullens has looked pretty raw for the most part, not showing much prowess in backing his man down to get superior position, and showing inconsistent results with the hook shots and turnaround jumpers he tries to execute from 5 feet out and beyond. The form on these moves doesn't look bad, as he has a nice foundation in place, so it's just a matter of continuing to practice these moves while doing a better job of getting deep position.
On the defensive end, Mullens clearly has a long way to go as a man-to-man defender, leaving a lot to be desired in the area of fundamentals, frequently getting beat despite his towering size. In the post, he gives up position way too easily, showing little grasp of leverage, and he also doesn't seem to have much concept of angles, getting outsmarted by players a fair share. To his credit, he does seem to put in somewhat of a concentrated effort guarding his man, moving his feet and keeping his hands outstretched, though players are still frequently able to score over him.
We spoke about Mullens' problems keeping up with Ohio State's team defensive schemes earlier in the year, and while this isn't something Mullens has overcome, he's certainly shown some progress, doing a better job making rotations, being in the right position, and showing better attentiveness and awareness in Thad Matta's zone. His reaction time in making his rotations is not very good, but it's clear that he's put in more effort as the season has gone on. With his size and length, he has a lot of potential as a shot blocker, and he shows flashes of this at times, but he needs to improve his reflexes and timing to realize his potential in this area.
Mullens is still a fairly mistake-prone player, which is likely a product of his average basketball IQ. He often looks somewhat absent-minded boxing out opponents and such, and thus ranks as a pretty average rebounder relative to his physical tools. He's also an incredibly poor passer, garnering just one assist every four games (8 total in 32 games), and picking up six turnovers for every one assist. He has the second worst assist to turnover ratio in college basketball, and is the second worst passer per possession as well.
Looking forward, Mullens has a tough decision to make in regards to entering the draft, as he could be a lottery pick this year in what many view as a weak class, though you'd be hard pressed to find a talent evaluator who wouldn't think Mullens clearly needs another year or two in school to develop. The only thing he does at an NBA level at this point is get open and finish at the basket on the offensive end, so it's hard to see him contributing much to a team initially. The fact that his coach played him just 13 minutes per game in Ohio State's three conference tournament games is telling of how far along he is as a player at this stage in his development. [Read Full Article] Evaluating the NCAA Freshman Class December 24, 2008 Playing for Thad Matta is definitely not all fun and games, as freshman B.J. Mullens has learned over the last month and change. The 7-foot center has been on an extremely short leash thus far, which should make him a much better player over the long term. Coming off by far his best game of the season—a 19-point, 8 rebound, 3 block effort in an easy win over UNC-Asheville, this seems like as good a time as any to summarize Mullens' first taste of college basketball.
The minimal amount of high-level coaching Mullens received early in his basketball career has put him at a significant disadvantage early on as a college player. His questionable conditioning, poor fundamentals and lackluster effort have clearly drawn the ire of Coach Matta, and will have to improve significantly if he's to see increased playing time as the season moves on. Mullens often looks very lazy getting back on defense, will rarely box out for rebounds, and seems very slow to pick up on the defensive concepts that are being asked of him by the coaching staff.
Right now, Mullens is just bigger, stronger, more athletic and far more talented than anyone else he's faced. We're still yet to see whether he can use advanced moves to score, put the ball on the floor, or find the open man out of the double team. On a different team, for example Kansas State, Mullens would probably be able to play 30+ minutes per game and be able to average 20 and 10 just off his pure talent. An impressively built 7-footer, Mullens runs the floor like a guard, has terrific hands and is a fantastic finisher around the basket thanks to his excellent athleticism. He is hungry to score and can cause some serious damage with his back to the basket, drawing fouls at a high rate, showing nice touch, good body control and impressive instincts putting the ball in the net.
Mullens is being asked to do a lot more than just that, though, which is why he's only played 17 minutes per game through his first nine contests. Often the first one down the floor on offense, he's typically the last one to get back on defense. The concept of a zone defense looks completely foreign to him, and it's very typical to see him completely out of place (sometimes wildly chasing a steal), which causes his team's entire defense to collapse. He looks very lost at times trying to do anything more than use his pure instincts, which is a bit of a concern when you consider how tactical the NBA is on both ends of the floor. The one assist he's dished out through nine games, compared with 11 turnovers, tells the story quite well regarding his basketball IQ and understanding of the game at the moment.
Ohio State's schedule will stiffen significantly over the next few weeks, which should tell us quite a bit more about Mullens' progress. So far he's shown great flashes of potential, while waving some huge red flags about his fundamentals and mental outlook. Just a freshman, there is still plenty of time to improve, although it's obvious that he could use at least one if not two more seasons at Ohio State before he decides to bolt for the NBA. From what we're told, and mostly due to his family's financial situation, this is absolutely going to be his lone season of college basketball, for better or worse. [Read Full Article] Jordan Brand Classic Games (Day Three) April 20, 2008 Much like he has been all weekend long, B.J. Mullens (12 points, 3 rebounds, 6-7 FG, 17 minutes) was fairly quiet throughout the game, besides on a number basic catches and athletic finishes around the rim. He has a great body, excellent size and terrific hands, and is a superior athlete as he often shows in warm-ups, but just isn't smart or aggressive enough to know how to fully utilize his tools at this point in the game. His lack of focus was evident on a number of occasions this weekend, and it's pretty clear that Thad Matta is going to have to put a significant amount of work in to get him up to snuff on the defensive end. He has almost no concept of how to hedge a ball-screen or make effective rotations inside, and seemingly relies exclusively on his size and athleticism to defend his man inside. [Read Full Article] adidas Nations Basketball Experience: 2008 High School Prospects August 14, 2007 B.J. Mullens might have the most upside of any of the players present in New Orleans. Standing 7-1, he has an NBA caliber body, great hands, a freakishly explosive vertical leap, a sweet jump-shot, and is able to dunk the ball with either hand. What? Where do we sign? Not so quick, though…since there is certainly more than meets the eye here.
Mullens still has quite a ways to go before his production on the court is able to match his considerable upside. He has a tendency to take possessions off and disappear, on the defensive end especially, but also on offense when things aren't going so well. Too often we'd catch Mullens sprinting up the floor while a shot is going up in the air—trying to cherry pick his way to a flashy above the rim dunk—rather than do what a 7-footer is supposed to do and box out for a rebound. His team's defensive rebounding suffered in the process, but we did get a chance to see him show off his ups quite a bit.
Once he figures it out, we're surely talking about a top prospect. Mullens runs the floor incredibly well (especially when cherry-picking), catches anything thrown his way, and uses both hands fairly well. He also dropped off a few very nice bounce passes to cutters slashing towards the rim. He even shows nice flashes of potential with his footwork in the post. Nothing consistent, but we did see a glimpse of a gorgeous jump-hook, a complicated drop-step move, a strong left-handed put-back, and of course some ridiculous finishes where his head was above the rim for a dunk. Incredibly impressive stuff.
That was all mixed in with too many minutes of complete disinterest, an obviously underdeveloped feel for the game, and absolutely nothing resembling consistent effort on defense or going after rebounds. The name Patrick O'Bryant came up on one occasion, and it should serve as a warning as to the direction Mullens does not want to head. His potential is that of an all-star, but there are many red flags that cause us to take pause. At this point it's hard to say how much of his upside he'll be able to achieve, but there will be a lot to look forward to for Ohio State fans if he even comes close. [Read Full Article] adidas Nations Basketball Experience Notebook (Day One+Two) August 5, 2007 B.J. Mullens had an up and down game against Africa, coming up with some emphatic finishes around the basket (and-1 sometimes), making some very smart passes, showing really nice flashes of footwork, but also disappearing for long stretches by not asserting himself and not playing all that hard. That's been the knock on him throughout his career so far, and we saw that with our own eyes here. He has a great body, is incredibly explosive, and also has a good looking mid-range jumper as we saw from watching him shoot-around in between sessions—so it's obvious why he is such a highly touted prospect. From what he told us, he plans on staying in college for more than one year, as he doesn't feel like he is ready to think about the NBA yet. [Read Full Article]