Practice Report: Mullens Making Most of Opportunities

In less than 48 hours, Byron Mullens went from playing in a NBA D-League game for the Tulsa 66ers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to logging a season-high seven minutes in Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With Cole Aldrich and Nenad Krstic both nursing injuries, the Thunder recalled Mullens from the 66ers for Sunday’s game. The second-year center made it a few hours before tip-off after a snowstorm kept him in Sioux Falls an extra night. He finished with five points, five rebounds, a steal and a block against the Cavs. Mullens said he’s starting to see his hard work pay off in the minutes he's been given.

“Rebounding, posting up, getting position, taking my time – me and (assistant coach Mark Bryant) work on that every day,” Mullens said. “We play 1-on-1 before games and I’m just getting better. I’m just taking my time getting lower than everybody. It’s all leverage and patience. You’ve just got to get lower than your opponent.”

Strength has continued to be one of the biggest differences in Mullens from last season. His work ethic hasn’t changed. Mullens was supposed to play two games while in Sioux Falls, but the second game scheduled for Saturday was canceled because the weather made it difficult to travel to the arena. Not that Mullens would have known since he was already at the arena before the brunt of the storm.

Whether he’s playing big minutes for the 66ers or spot minutes in Oklahoma City, Mullens said he’s always prepared.

“You never know when your number’s going to be called,” he said. “Whether it’s the last minute of the game or the first minute, I’ve just got to stay ready. You never know who’s watching those minutes so you’ve just got to play hard no matter who you’re playing against, just make the team better and play hard every day.”…

I’ve always wondered about what gets discussed during timeouts, and Head Coach Scott Brooks gave us a little snippet into what goes on in a huddle when he started praising the way players process so much information during those 20-second or full timeouts.

“They get a lot thrown at them during timeouts and they internalize it and put it on the floor and execute it,” Brooks said. “Sometimes I give them two plays that are not in our playbook. Just random plays that I think we can score off of the way the defense is guarding and they will know those two plays. It could be two minutes down the floor and I say, ‘Play 1 or Play 2’ and they know it. But defensively you’re still always trying to tinker with the matchups and the schemes during the games.”…

Probably like most other NBA coaches, Brooks is a huge fan of NBA League Pass. If the Thunder isn’t playing, chances are he’s watching what other teams in the league are doing.

So Brooks is well aware that the Dallas Mavericks just had their 12-game win streak snapped by the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and that the New York Knicks have won eight-straight games.

“I love League Pass,” he said. “My wife doesn’t love it. I try to watch as many games as I can once my kids fall asleep. I love watching games. I skipped through a bunch of games last night. That’s the great thing about this league, you can learn from other teams.”

Brooks said he tries to be a casual fan, but he typically can’t help himself from taking notes or hitting the rewind button during games.

“I learn,” he said. “I still have a lot of areas I need to improve on.”….

In regards to Tuesday’s practice, Brooks said:

“Our practice was good. It was a little chippy today, which is good. Our guys normally are not like that but I like it. I like to see the toughness that needs to be displayed in order to be successful to win in this league and they had it today.”

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