Mason Plumlee - A "steal of the draft?"

USA TODAY Sports

The Nets have lost both games they've played in the summer league and while the big news has been Jason Kidd's coaching debut, Mason Plumlee has wowed a lot of onlookers and pundits in surprising ways. The 23-year-old seven footer from Duke has been at times electrifying, and almost always solid, showing off not only world-class athleticism (36.5" max vertical) and a skyhook, both of which were known quantities but also ball-handling and post moves that have surprised the NBA.com announcers calling the game.

One more thing that surprised them and probably some Nets fans: Plumlee's aggressiveness. After a dramatic, end to end drive, spin and two hand stuff over the #8 pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Sunday, Plumlee screamed, "Come get some."

In summing up Monday's action, NBA.com's Dennis Scott on Tuesday singled out Plumlee and Boston's Kelly Olynyk as two of the big stars in the first two days. over the two games, Plumlee is averaging 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds, shooting 84.6 percent (not a typo, 11-for-13,including 8-for-8 vs. the Heat. Others have noticed as well.

Here's how ESPN described his game vs. Miami...

"Not to be outdone by his older brother, the younger Plumlee also impressed, nearly notching a double-double with 23 points and nine rebounds. The athleticism that made the 7-footer so appealing out of college was evident, as Plumlee kept pace with his guards on the break, soared to the rim for a violent dunk and overall outmaneuvered Jarvis Varnado, the Heat’s shot-blocker extraordinaire. The Nets, with their aged roster, likely won’t be running much with their first unit, but Plumlee, along with Tyshawn Taylor at the point, could provide a nice change of pace when they enter the game."

And the play of the game, ESPN reported was this...

"In the first quarter, Mason Plumlee grabbed a rebound, put the ball on the floor, brought it up and then whipped a perfect bounce pass to Tornike Shengelia for a dunk. The team’s first-round pick has been extremely impressive thus far, displaying his athleticism, high motor and high basketball IQ."

Plumlee, as articulate as he is athletic, spoke with Ben Couch of the Nets after Monday's game. He lamented the loss.

"we didn't really make an improvement with turnovers and that cost us again," he said, before noting, unsmiling, "The coaches are saying, 'We're all learning. They're learning us. We're learning the game. We're learning each other.' it's not easy, but I think we're doing a better job. By the end of this, we'll start looking better, hopefully, we'll come back tomorrow.

He also described his style of play. "My mind set is never settle. Not that you never take jumpshots, but I'd rather be attacking the rim. If you could do both, I'd rather be attacking the rim. Especially on this team, I have to be the guy that attacks it."

Too early to call him, in that hackneyed expression, a "steal of the draft?" Sure, In fact, Nets officials have been low-key in praising him, perhaps because they know with Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche all needing big minutes, Plumlee will be hard-pressed to get much time on the court when the real games begin.

"Solid" is the word team officials have using to describe him, as in "solid if not spectacular" and "a solid back-up. Jason Kidd said of him, "He's playing hard. He's got a long way to go but you can see good things that he brings to the table," said his coach.

But there's no doubt they're happy, real happy with the pick. Rod Boone tweeted out a Billy King reaction after Plumlee confused the Heat's Jarvis Varnado with a shimmy shake in the post.

There are issues. Andre Drummond dominated the paint against him (and the rest of the Nets team) on Monday and once he's in real games, that advantage he has in athleticism will be mitigated. Still, the Nets do seem to have found a quality big man late in a weak draft.

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