On draft night a little more than a week ago, the headlines that ruled the night were all about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but the Nets still made a what one league source called a "solid but not spectacular" first round selection.
Mason Plumlee comes from a winning pedigree and has experience, playing four seasons at Duke, where the teams he played for had a 124-23 record, including the 2010 NCAA championship. One area where he is spectacular is athleticism, something that could benefit the Nets greatly now that they are the oldest team in the NBA.
Now, Plumlee gets his first taste of the NBA game vs. the Pistons at 5 p.m. Sunday.. Detroit's roster includes Andre Drummond, the Pistons' 6'11" rookie center; Viacheslav Kravtsov, their 6'11" PF and former Duke teammate Kyle Singler, at 6'9". It will be the biggest test for any of the Nets' league task.
First and foremost, Mason Plumlee is an athlete, with a 36.5" max vertical, one of the highest ever recorded by a seven-footer at the Pre-Draft Combine. He has good size for an NBA center at just above 7' in shoes and weighing in at 240 pounds. Nets insiders think he can add bulk to his frame as well. He gets up and down the floor very well on offense and his big, nimble hands help him catch and finish above the rim. His 6'11" wingspan is relatively short (Brook Lopez, also 7'0'5", has 7.5.5" wingspan.) For the Nets, with the likes of Brook Lopez and an now an aging Kevin Garnett in the house, a little athleticism in the post can be significant.
Plumlee is also a gritty player. Averaging a double-double this past season, Plumlee attacks the glass on both ends of the floor, averaging 4.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes in his junior campaign and being one of the nation's top defensive rebounders his senior season. Plumlee uses his athleticism to work his opponents for offensive boards, and again, withnot the greatest rebounder, Plumlee could mesh well with the Nets frontcourt.
Plumlee isn't a flashy player. He uses only basic post moves, but still finishes. He revels is being a bit old school, too, having learned and utilized the skyhook, as the New York Times reported. He shot nearly 60% on two-point attempts this past season at Duke, and gets to the free throw line more than eight times per 40 minutes. He is also a solid passer. His 70 assists were the most by any Duke player who wasn't a guard.
His time at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski has done wonders for his game. He is very disciplined in the post on defense and doesn't foul often. He also doesn't bite on shot fakes and has the strength in his legs to block shots with his opponent driving at him. He averaged nearly two per game.
On the Nets, Plumlee could help find the answer to the backup center question, allowing Andray Blatche to play his more natural role of power forward behind Garnett as well as spelling Lopez. Plumlee's winning attitude and willingness to work should also make it easier for the Nets to groom him, since he knows what it takes to the win. It doesn't hurt that he was two-time Academic All-American at one of the nation's finest schools. If all breaks well, the Nets will have an offensive and a defensive threat at the center position for a while.
Outside of the post, Plumlee is very limited in what he does. He is not very capable of making a consistent mid-range jumper, and is very turnover prone. The center turned it over 3 times per 40 minutes this past season, meaning intense pressure is one way to thwart his game. As noted, Plumlee has a very basic post game, which is fine, unless his defender stops him, for he doesn't have a good counter move and doesn't react well. However, with Garnett now on the roster, Plumlee could learn to develop his mid-range game. As the video below notes, he can make them ... if given time for his slow release.
Plumlee also has trouble reading the pick-and-roll well, a staple to many teams offensive game plan and an issue for fellow center Brook Lopez. Even though he is quick, Plumlee doesn't do very well against quicker opponents for they beat him off the dribble constantly.
Already 23, Plumlee is one of those what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of prospects. That's not all that bad. He could play the perfect role for the Nets, a backup center who could hold down the fort with Lopez on the bench. Just don't expect too muh This was a safe pick by a team that completed a huge trade just minutes later. So, the Nets didn't go that wrong by taking Plumlee.