cleveland: Sometimes a change of scenery will do wonders to change a player’s perspective and his productivity.
Judging from his early season success, former Ohio State star B.J. Mullens has found new life with the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats acquired Mullens in a Dec. 19 trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for a second-round draft pick.
Mullens, a 7-foot center, played one year with the Buckeyes before entering the 2009 draft. He already has played more for the Bobcats than he did in two seasons with the Thunder, who acquired him in a draft-day trade. Heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Cavaliers, Mullens, a Canal Winchester native and former Ohio High School Player of the Year, was coming off a career-best, 12-point performance, his second consecutive game scoring in double figures. He is averaging a career-best 8.5 points per game.
The reason for his lack of success with the Thunder is clear. The Thunder wanted someone who could post up and score, and that didn’t fit Mullens’ game, even when he played for the Buckeyes.
He’s a perimeter shooter, and that isn’t where centers traditionally operate. Bobcats coach Paul Silas is allowing Mullens to be Mullens.
“That’s a perfect description,” said Mullens, a third-year player, before Tuesday’s game against the Cavs. “Me and Coach sat down and talked and he said ‘I’m going to let you do what you do best. I’m not going to turn you into a player that you’re not. I’ve seen you since high school. You can shoot the ball, so just go out and shoot the ball with confidence. Shoot and make sure you make it.’ ”
Silas worked with Mullens when he was in high school.
“He’s just playing now. I don’t think he played but 173 minutes over three years. We got to continue to play him and hopefully he’ll get better and better,” said Silas, a former Cavs coach. “I just love the way he shoots. He doesn’t have to post up for me. As long as he’s making baskets, it doesn’t matter.”
Erden makes progress
Center Semih Erden spent another game on the inactive list as he continues to recuperate from a broken right thumb, but he’s getting closer to returning to the lineup.
Cavs coach Byron Scott said Erden will likely play during the team’s upcoming road trip, but it depends on what he sees in practice.
“It’s a lot of games in a short period of time, you don’t have a whole lot of time for practice,” Scott said.
The first opportunity to evaluate Erden will come in five-on-five drills Saturday. Even then it’s difficult to say from where the 7-foot center’s minutes will come.
“I’m not even thinking about that at this particular time. The biggest thing is I’d like to see him on the court,” Scott said.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://zips.ohio.com. Follow the Zips on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.