The NBA Draft is just around the corner of “get a map” and “eff off.” With it approaching so rapidly, it’s time to start speculating who the Detroit Pistons could possibly snag with their No. 15 overall pick. For your information, the last time Detroit had a No. 15 pick it was 2007 and they chose a guy named Rodney Stuckey.
This year, the draft is not particularly loaded, but there is a long list of guys that should be available come Detroit’s turn; almost all of whom I’d be totally cool with the Pistons drafting.
Except for one.
Rumors have been circulating this past week that the Pistons have made a promise to Ohio State University’s Byron (B.J.) Mullens, that they would pick him with the 15th overall pick should he still be available. Rumors are just rumors, so I don’t typically put too much stock into them. I used to start dirty rumors in high school all the time just for fun, so it doesn’t necessarily make them true.
This particular rumor doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. What if, for some crazy reason, a guy like Stephen Curry slipped to No. 15? It’s never going to happen, but just go with it. If the promise is true and Mullens is still available, with Curry, that means the Pistons would pick Mullens instead of a guy like Curry? I don’t believe it for one second. I’ve seen guys slip in drafts before and promising a player before the draft starts that you’ll take him, in the middle of the draft no less, does not seem logical to me. Yeah, these promises are not legally binding, but still. The only time I think a draft promise is acceptable is when the player is a cut above the rest. That does not seem to be the case here with Mullens. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mullens started this rumor himself.
If the rumor is true then I urge all Pistons fans to cross their fingers, toes, and legs and pray that some other team before the 15th pick thinks highly enough of Mullens to waste a pick on him.
My first concern with B.J. Mullens is not exactly a legitimate reason to dislike the guy as a potential center for our hometown basketball team, but I still think it’s worth mentioning that the Ohio State player has been on record as saying he hates the state of Michigan. Granted it was right before an Ohio State/Michigan game, but is that really the type of guy we want bringing fans to the Palace as our “loveable rookie”? Further, when Mullens was asked to sum up his opinion of the state of Michigan with one SAT word, Mullens responded, “Boo.” So he hates Michigan and didn’t do very well on his SAT. Not a good start, in my book.
Now there is promise with Mullens. First of all, he’s an athletic 7’0″, 260 lb center. That alone could have most teams drooling over him. Enter the Detroit Pistons who always seem to be in dier need of a big man, Mullens might seem exactly like the type of guy we’d want and should grab if he’s available.
However, take a look at Mullens profile on Draft Express, probably the most credible and thorough analysis of draft prospects on the internet. You might be surprised to notice that on the left side there are 9 strengths listed for Mullens and 24 weaknesses! That’s not an instant deal breaker for me, but it automatically has me as skeptic as any time I’m at the club and I see a rash on a girl’s lip. It could be fixable, but something tells me it’s permanent and infectious.
It’s not the number of weaknesses that necessarily perturb me, though. It’s the actual weaknesses. “Basketball IQ,” “Commitment to playing defense,” “work ethic,” “ability to contribute immediately,” and “not productive enough,” are just some that really irk me. Detroit has prided itself in the past decade on having teams that work harder than anyone at defense and know the game like the back of their hand. Mullens would seemingly fail miserably at this.
Furthermore, the whole idea of Dumars trading Billups was to free up money and go out and purchase free agents that could help the Pistons win immediately and help the franchise avoid the same downtime that Dumars experienced as a player in the early-90s. Scouting reports say Mullens is a good 2-3 years away from being a contributor to any NBA team. There are players in the draft ready to contribute to NBA teams, so why would Joe contradict himself and take a gamble on a guy who not only will not be ready to help them for another 2-3 years, but also may not even pan out at all.
To me, this potential pick has “Darko Milicic” written all over it. In case you forgot, the Pistons took Milicic, the 7’0″ 260 lb center, with the 2nd pick in the 2003 draft. Milicic, who was supposed to develop into a perennial center in the league, wound up becoming nothing more than the “Human Victory Cigar.” Like Mullens, Milicic had a lot of weaknesses coming in, but all the promise in the world. Unfortunately, Milicic’s work ethic never kicked in and he spent more of his time smoking cigarettes, drinking, and hooking up with local Catholic school girls rather than getting into contributing shape. I can’t help but feel a similar path is in store for Mullens.
Joe Dumars is a proud GM and he’ll do what he thinks is best for the team, despite what the media and fans might think of his decisions. Time after time, he defended his pick of Milicic in 2003, only recently admitting he may have made a mistake. Whatever he decides to do with the No. 15 pick, I’ll trust him, but a Mullens pick might have me doubting Joe for first time since he took over the job at the beginning of the millennium.
Why make the same mistake twice?
Go out and grab the best, NBA ready talent available and forget about promising risks like Mullens. The work ethic and his attitude should be a red flag alone, but there are numerous other weaknesses to Mullens’ game that should be enough cause for concern to ultimately pass on B.J. Mullens and go with someone else.
For me, all it would take is knowing he went to Ohio State, that stupid interview of him bashing Michigan, and that terrible B.J. tattoo he’s displaying above for me to say, “No thanks, I’d rather have a different B.J.” Then again, I’m not an NBA GM.