The Charlotte Bobcats just got some size back. Big man Byron Mullens returned to the court on Monday night, and right away did his part to make the Bobcats competitive, as he chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds in a narrow loss to the defending champion Miami Heat.
If you’re wondering how valuable Mullens is to Charlotte’s short term and long term prospects, look no further than the fact that he was supposed to have a bout a 15-minute cap in his return from a bad ankle injury, but instead logged 28.
Needless to say, Charlotte is starving for size, talent and production from their bigs, as Mullens is their only post player who has anything that resembles range, while he easily has the most versatile and well-rounded game at the position, as well.
So, just what can we expect from Mullens and the Bobcats with their 23-year old 7-footer back on the hardwood? Better play, hopefully.
Mullens is young and still has flaws to his game, but he brings much-needed upside every single time he hits the court. More specifically to the here and now, he brings fresh legs and a ton of energy. He’ll have to work through some rust (just 5-of-14 from the field last night), but his rebounding and shot-blocking ability combine with a solid offensive game to give the Bobcats some help at a position they’re thin at.
On the season, Mullens is averaging just under 12 points per game, as well as nearly eight boards and about one block per game. If it sounds like he’s the type of guy that Charlotte might miss when down and out, it’s because he is. Charlotte was just 4-15 with Mullens on the sideline this year, and not counting his first game back against the Heat (cuz, come on, it’s the Heat and the dude was carrying some rust), the Bobcats were 7-20.
It’s not a huge difference, but having Mullens around positively impacts Charlotte’s perimeter offense, rebounding, and overall offensive flow.
The downside of Mullens’ youth and game is that he primarily shoots jumpers, isn’t an overly efficient scorer (shooting a dreadful 37% for a big man), and is inconsistent on the defensive end.
With that said, getting Mullens back in the rotation and eventually in the starting lineup again is music to Charlotte fans’ ears. Yes, we know this season is a lost cause and the Bobcats are stuck in the lottery. In a sense, that might even be good news at this point.
But at least we get to watch a nice young talent get back into the mix, help make the Bobcats a little more competitive, and show us what he has to offer going forward.