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Fun with numbers: Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee's six minutes together

Hagen Hopkins

Deep stats are fun. Deep stats are even more fun when they are absolutely meaningless.

With an offseason that has been highlighted by the incredible rise of Mason Plumlee, conventional wisdom is that new coach Lionel Hollins will try to play Plumlee and Brook Lopez together this season.

Despite Plumlee taking six shots outside of the paint last season, and Lopez being a player that spends most of his time in the paint, many believe that the combination of athleticism and freakish size will work out for the NetsAs noted in this piece from August, Lopez can possibly play outside the paint and be in a similar role to what Marc Gasol was in Memphis under the same coach, leaving Plumlee to own the paint as he continues to work on his mid-range jumper.

Besides the hypothesis that the two can play together, lets look at the hard facts.

The two big men played six —yes six— minutes together last season. This was before the Lopez injury and the Nets were still trying to figure out their rotation at the time, but the results still weren't pretty.

Here are the basic stats: the Nets shot three of nine from the floor during the six minutes and the team had a net rating of -6. Both times the two played together were during two blowout games, November 29 against the Rockets and December 5 against the Knicks. In the short time the two spent on the floor together, both did play on each low block during half court sets, but at this point in the game, with the Nets down more than 20 points, nobody was really staying within the offense.

If the six minutes were averaged out over 100 possessions, the Nets would have scored a shade under 100 points per those possessions, but would have allowed allowed more than 174 points at the same time, an incredibly poor number. If the two were to play defense together for extended minutes, I expect to see improvement.

Plumlee has shown to be a willing defender with Team USA displaying fine mechanics while defending the pick-and-roll and helping off the ball, and Lopez has shown to be an improving defender over the course of his career, particularly at rim protection. The Dukie can defend fours with his athleticism, but may struggle with power forwards who play along the perimeter, but I still see him not being a detriment to the team. Lopez has been a mediocre at best big man, but he is capable enough to continue to fend off opposing big men.

The last irrelevant stat we will look at from these six minutes is pace. The Nets used about 94 possessions per game last season, 25 best in the NBA, but Lionel Hollins has stated that he wants to push the tempo and get more possessions in. With Plumlee and Lopez on the floor, the Nets had an adjusted pace of about 93 possessions during the six minutes, even less than last year. Of course, this was during blowout games and it wasn't even close to a fair sample size, but still, Hollins will need to evaluate if the slow moving Lopez can get up the floor as much as the coach hopes with Plumlee running alongside him.

Remember, these stats mean nothing, but it is fun to look at what these two can do beside each other, even if it wasn't an ideal result.