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Mason Plumlee ranks second in ESPN's latest rookie rankings

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Mason Plumlee's game continues to get better from one game to the next, and the pundits are recognizing it. The Nets' first round pick is averaging nearly seven points per game on 68-percent shooting from the floor in nearly 18 minutes of action.  That's tops among rookies. He's also No. 1 in rookie dunks and No. 10 overall.

David Thorpe, in his weekly rookie rankings on, now ranks Plumlee No.2 among rookies. He writes:

One would assume that Plumlee would have been drafted higher had teams known he was going to be "Shaq extra-lite" as a rookie. The No. 22 pick is constantly running to the rim and, by being fast, athletic and tall, getting a lot of shots from that spot on the floor. Amazingly, considering how important the rim area is, he often ends up wide open too. But his physical talents allow him to finish even when he does encounter a defender.

Heading into this week, Plumlee has made 74 percent (35 of 47) of his shots near the rim -- the area that accounts for 100 percent of his made field goals. He deserves credit for seeking out that area, for being able to convert in occasional traffic and for not trying to score from areas outside the immediate vicinity of the rim. He has attempted just four shots beyond the paint. What team doesn't need an athletic big man with good hands who understands how to play effectively on offense?

He doesn't project to be a star, or perhaps even a starter, but he can be a solid role player who has to be guarded, and that counts for something, particularly in a weak draft class.

It was thought Plumlee would be sent down to the Springfield Armor early and often this season, but his athleticism and, as Thorpe notes, his "Shaq extra-lite" abilities earned him a prime spot in the rotation. The Nets' frequent injuries have given Plumlee an opportunity to get significant minutes. Plumlee is second amongst rookies in PER this season at 17.84, trailing only Michael Carter-Williams, who ranks first on Thorpe's list.