Quietly, the rookie who the Nets originally planned on sending to Springfield has become part of the team's rotation, getting a bigger and bigger share of minutes on the second unit.
Over the past three games, Mason Plumlee has played 47 minutes, scored 16 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), grabbed 11 rebounds and shown some BBIQ, not turning the ball over once. He's taking minutes from Reggie Evans, who's managed only 16 minutes (including a DNP) in those same three games. Evans is still capable of coming in and dominating the boards, but Jason Kidd seems comfortable with the big Dukie.
The 23-year-old seven-footer is also being tutored by Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. He jokes that he gets yelled at "by a lot of guys. I feel Mario Chalmers." He spoke to HoopsWorld recently about what each big man has taught him.
"The biggest takeaway is just watching him, watching him before practice, after practice," he said of Garnett. "He's very professional about how he goes about his work and at this stage of his career, he makes a lot of commitment to taking care of his body. So while, he may not be the first or last guy on the court ... he's getting in early, getting treatment, staying late, whether it's getting a massage or taking care of himself ... So, his time commitment is the same. For 19 years in the league, that's very impressive."
Of Lopez, he said, "He has a great feel for finishing around the basket. And I didn't realize how good of a shooter he is. It shows that at our size --and I'm not as big as him -- I have to be able to knock down shots, play off the pick and pop. He has it all. He just has all the tools and does whatever the coaches ask him to do. Although you may not see them every night, they're there if he needs them."
Plumlee is still wanting in several areas. He is shooting only 42.9 percent from the foul line and has yet to block a shot in the NBA. He fouls too much, with five against the Suns and nine in the last three. But considering that Billy King originally had him ticketed for Springfield, Plumlee has emerged nicely early