Well this game was pretty much the Byron Mullens show. You can’t really have a coming out party during the summer league, as there have been plenty of other high scoring games by summer scrubs you never hear from again. But in this instance, we started to see many different looks from Mullens that aren’t too familiar to us, outside of when he gets into “Pop-A-Shot” mode from the 3-point line.
I think this was a perfect example of seeing Mike Dunlap’s coaching influence on the players. Whereas the previous games may have been less structured in order for the team to get their feet wet, this game seemed to rein in Mullens deep-heaving propensity, and started to reveal a more versatile repertoire that we’ve all been begging for since the Bobcats acquired him.
Mullens started out shooting from deep a couple times, but was able to hit early on. But instead of being satisfied and settling to keep shooting outside, he started to become more aggressive. After faking a pass on the perimeter, he drove hard to the basket, drew a foul, and hit a 15 foot floater. Then he started to post up on the block, where he showed nice footwork and the ability to get a couple hook shots off. He also received the ball at the medium post, and was able to maneuver his way into scoring position for another and 1 basket.
Another aspect of Mullens’ aggressiveness was his work on the offensive boards. He was able to beat his man to position several times, and used some strength and athleticism to gather the boards and finish through contact for a couple buckets. He also was able to tip the ball a couple times when he couldn’t corral it himself, keeping some plays alive for others to finish. This shows that he wasn’t just lazily standing around the perimeter waiting for the chance to launch another three, but that he was actually aware of what was happening on offense and figured out how to get the right spots. Very promising.
Another criticism of Mullens’ game in the past was him not running the floor hard in transition. He often was seen just trotting down the court, or trailing the ball handler and spotting up at the top of the key for a three. But tonight, I saw several times where he made it a point just to get down the floor into the lane, and on one such occasion, he was rewarded with a nice bounce pass from Jeff Taylor for a slam.