Sixers player evaluation: Byron Mullens

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Sixers player evaluation: Byron Mullens

Over the next couple of weeks, we will recap the Sixers' season by evaluating each member of the roster.

Today, veteran gunner Byron Mullens:

Position
Center/Power forward

Status
Mullens has a player option with an early termination clause for $1.063 million for 2014-15.

Signature game of 2013-14
Mullens had three games in which he scored 15 points for the Sixers after coming over from the Clippers at the trade deadline. In each of those games, Mullens hit three three-pointers. However, in the loss to the Indiana Pacers at the Wells Fargo Center, Mullens shot 6 for 9 with five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes. Mullens scored 12 of his 15 during the second quarter to help keep the Sixers within two points.

Mullens in 2013-14
Mullens went from one of the best teams in the Western Conference to the worst team in the NBA. Unlike Danny Granger, who was traded from the Pacers to the Sixers, Mullens couldn’t force a buy out. That’s partially because Mullens has a player option for next season and isn’t working for a free-agent contract. Plus, Mullens has been on really bad teams before. In 2011-12, he was on the Bobcats when they went 7-59, so the 19-63 Sixers were a walk in the park.

Also, in 27 games with the Clippers, Mullens averaged just 6.2 minutes per game. That climbed to 13.7 minutes with the Sixers while his shot attempts nearly tripled.

Prospectus
Mullens likes to shoot the ball. Though he’s seven-feet tall, he’s not much for hanging around the paint -- he’d much prefer to hover around the three-point line looking for a shot. And Mullens won’t hesitate to let it go. ESPN.com basketball writer Zach Lowe opined that Mullens plays basketball as if it were a game of pop-a-shot. Oddly, Mullens is more productive the farther he is from the basket.

It would be difficult to envision a scenario in which Mullens opts out of his deal. There doesn’t seem to be much of a market for seven-footers who shoot it from 25 feet. So count on Mullens picking up his option and showing up at training camp in October.

On Byron Mullens
“You see a 7-foot guy who can step out and stretch the floor, and he is athletic. He can get up and down the floor, and I feel like he’s a good person, he’s coachable, there’s a part of those inherent qualities that he possesses that interest me.” 

— Brett Brown, April 5, 2014

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.