The Dallas Mavericks selected BJ Mullens with the 24th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Immediately after them, the Thunder selected Rodrigue Beaubois with the 25th pick. Right after Beaubois was announced by NBA Commissioner David Stern, Ric Bucher was on ESPN reporting that the Mavericks and Thunder would swap those two picks. And just like that, BJ Mullens joined the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now, some people didn't exactly hide their frustration or unease with that pick. I will admit, Mullens does have a few concerning attributes or red flags, but he's got the size and athleticism to play in the league. Besides, when you start getting lower than the 20th pick in the draft, you start taking risky picks and projects. Mullens is a project. If he doesn't pan out, then so be it. But if he does, then Presti looks like a genius. That late in the draft you're taking a shot in the dark anyways. Sometimes you'll hit the target, sometimes you'll miss, and rarely you'll hit the bullseye and really luck out.
The BJ Mullens story is actually pretty interesting. He could have been a top 10 draft choice if the NBA's "one-and-done" rule didn't exist. He probably would have been drafted high right out of high school. However, while at Ohio State, Mullens only started two games despite his athletic skill level. I'm not a huge follower of Ohio State, but I'm going to guess that some of that had to do with the particular scheme that they ran, and the rest had to do with him not quite reaching his potential. In any event, after one year, Mullens had enough and he bid Thad Matta adieu - entering the NBA Draft.
Anyways, if you're unhappy with the pick, I implore you to read this article which should offer Thunder fans everywhere some hope that Mullens may actually wind up being a pretty good player. This includes one eye-popping number in the pre-draft combine measurements. You won't be disappointed!
With all of that business out of the way, the good stuff after the jump!
|2008 - B.J. Mullens||33||20.3||3.6||5.7||63.8||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.6||2.8||55.9||1.7||3.0||4.7||0.3||1.5||0.5||1.1||2.1||8.8|
Despite not starting, Mullens managed to log an average of 20.3 minutes per game, so he saw significant playing time. If you project out his per 40-minute totals, his line doesn't look all that bad: 17.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks. Just looking at the basic stats above, it's pretty obvious to see that he is not a great free throw shooter at all, and that will definitely need to be improved. Converting 56% of your free throws is simply not acceptable unless you're an all star like Shaq.
He was one of the statistical leaders among draft eligible players in effective field goal percentage (eFG%) which he had at 64%. This indicates that Mullens is somewhat adept at scoring and has some offensive talent when he can manage to get in position to score. Believe it or not, Mullens ranked first in the Big Ten conference in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and effective field foal percentage. He does have some stats that indicate promise. His offensive rebounding percentage of 11.6% was good for 4th in the Big Ten. His block percentage (estimate of number of shots contested that he blocked) is up at 6.8%, certainly no Thabeet, but not too shabby. Despite all of this, he only logged one double-double, something you would expect to be higher for such a "promising" center prospect.
Some more statistical views, mainly from DraftExpress:
- "His 1.41 PPP (points per possession) 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."
- "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..."
- "...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."
- "Mullens had a relatively efficient year with the possessions he did receive, scoring 59.7% of his possessions, good for second amongst all centers."
Just a reminder...
Scouting Report - The Positives
- "BJ Mullens is very agile for his size and he almost moves like an elongated 6’7" wing. This isn’t saying he is super-athletic or a great leaper, it speaks more to the fluidity of his movement. But he does have impressive athleticism considering his size and strength" --RealGM.com
- "Mullens moves well in pick and roll situations, showing an ability to catch the ball and finish in traffic and also improvise in those situations. He also does a good job giving a good shot hand in the post." --RealGM.com
- "With the kind of reps he will get as an NBA player, he will have a very nice right-handed jump hook that will be unguardable by most bigs. He elevates nicely and extends high with his release hand." --RealGM.com
- "...his [shot] form is very promising and he gets a lot of his lower body and lift into it, which is rare for a player of his size." --RealGM.com
- "He has a soft touch around the bucket and will effectively use the glass. Mullens also is a strong finisher, with good elevation on alley-oops and put back slams." --RealGM.com
- "He can be slippery into space an offensive rebounder and genuinely enjoys this aspect of the game and clearly sees it as an additional opportunity to score." --RealGM.com
- "Has developed effective back-to-the-basket scoring skills, as he can shoot from either hand under the net, showing a good touch, along with balance and body control to get the spacing needed to make his shot" --CBS Sports
- "Has an outstanding wingspan (7'4") with large hands and long limbs, to go with explosive leaping ability crashing the boards for the rebounds … On the offensive glass, he shows a soft touch to feather the ball in or make a statement with a resounding dunk" --CBS Sports
- "Confident in utilizing his jump shot from 10-to-15 feet out, but is better served when he finishes strongly at the rim (converted 63.8 percent of his possessions when working inside)" --CBS Sports
- "His offensive game will need to expand much more to compete at the NBA level, but he is quite effective scoring on pick-and-rolls and transition plays. His best asset right now is his ability to get open and finish under the basket" --CBS Sports
- "His defensive skills have yet to emerge, but he shows some alertness on the court and has improved his ability to be in position and make rotations when utilized in the zone" --CBS Sports
- "His body is still maturing and his frame has enough room to carry at least another 20 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness." --CBS Sports
Scouting Report - The Negatives
- "As a shooter, Mullens has a long ways to go in becoming consistent..." --RealGM.com
- "...he is much better on the catch when he gets to go into the air for it and use his lift than the passes thrown from his neck to waist." --RealGM.com
- "On the defensive end of the foor, Mullens is a frustrating case of not yet utilizing his length and athleticism. He is frequently out of position and really should be a more active shotblocker. He would be a more attractive prospect with even marginally better ability on defense" --RealGM.com
- "Has attitude, conditioning & effort issues." --Collegehoopsnet.com
- "Needs to work on his defensive awareness - can get lost at times. Leaves his feet too often on D in an attempt to block shots." --Collegehoopsnet.com
- "Very inconsistent. Forces shots. Doesn’t always have good balance in the post." --Collegehoopsnet.com
- "Lacks offensive polish, as most of his scoring comes on pick-and-rolls, transition plays and dunks, lacking the advanced post moves you expect from a guy in the pivot." --CBS Sports
- "Has a very poor assist/turnover ratio (9 assists/51 turnovers) and gets into a lot of trouble, as defenders literally feed off him when he attempts to put the ball on the floor" --CBS Sports
- "Has the strength to attack the boards for the rebound, but has to improve his angling to the basket and do a better job of elevating from a stationary position (better leaper when he has a running start)" --CBS Sports
- "Appears lost in attempts to split double teams and has trouble focusing on taking his shot with a defender in his face....Has poor court vision and is a big liability kicking the ball out as a passer " --CBS Sports
Pre-Draft Combine Numbers
Height: 6' 11.75" Height in Shoes: 7' 1.25" Weight: 258
Wingspan: 7' 1.5" Standing Reach: 9' 3" Body Fat: 8.5%
Stand Vertical: 28.5" Max Vertical: 32.5" Bench Press: 10 reps
Lane Agility: 11.10 sec. 3/4 Court Sprint: 3.45 sec.
The big surprise here is that his lane agility score is identical to James Harden's (and Harden's was above average for a shooting guard). In fact, his lane agility score would be above average for a point guard. I kid you not. His vertical leap numbers were better than average, and his height and wingspan measurements were right around average. Basically, all of this indicates that Mullens is an extremely athletic center, and if he could ever work out all of his negatives, he would be a great player. His sprint score was about average, not surprising given that he is effective in the break. Also not surprisingly, with such a great agility score, he is able to play some decent perimeter defense, and stay in front of guys.
I'll leave the final word to the RealGM.com article which I feel summed it up nicely:
Mullens has plenty of confidence, skill and athleticism to become a 25-minute per night center someday in the NBA. The game moves too quickly for him at this point and he will spend the first season and a half to two seasons at the end of the bench and in the D-League and will need to go to a team with patience and commitment to the development of their big men.