NBA Draft Profile: Mason Plumlee

Mar 31, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Mason Plumlee (5) shoots against the Louisville Cardinals during the Midwest regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament against the Duke Blue Devils at Lucas Oil Stadium. Louisville won 85-63. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

There are many big men in this year’s draft, there might be as many Plumlee brothers that have played for Duke. After a certain point, they sort of start blending into each other as one mega player. For both of these reasons, it is probably a good idea to highlight Mason Plumlee for our newest NBA profile.

Background:

To give a quick idea as to what type of player Plumlee is, here is a highlight video put together from his time at Duke.

A four year senior, something quite rare in today’s NCAA universe, Plumlee has improved every year he has spent at Duke. In 2012-13, he averaged a near double with 17.1 points per game and just a shade under 10 rebounds at 9.9

While playing for Duke, he has gotten the chance to play with both his older brother Miles and his young brother Marshall (technically, as Marshall red shirted his freshman year). As I mentioned, they all tend to blend together as they are all tall, white, athletic players who play in the post for coach K. Though it remains to be seen for Marshall, Mason appears to have the most talent of the three brothers.

Expected draft spot:

Chad Ford’s latest mock draft has him going 17th overall to the Hawks. Draft Net places him at 19th to the Cavaliers and Draft Express thinks he will go 14th to the Utah Jazz.

Strengths:

Plumlee is quite athletic. He gets up high off the ground, which allows him to block shots and put down dunks fairly easily and over contact. He is quick running up and down the court which will be important in the NBA as he will be able to play in an up-tempo offense. He is also very thickly built with a very strong frame that helps him bump bodies down in the post. He is a near 7 footer and he should be able to adjust to the physicality of the NBA big man game fairly quickly.

Offensively, Plumlee takes smart shots. He is aware of his limits and doesn’t tend to stray away from where he is most effective. He has a nice hook shot that he is able to release over both shoulders. With a high point of release, it is a hard shot to stop for defenders. Over the course of his four year career at Duke, he has also gotten much better at gaining position down low and he has learned how to seal off his defender in order to get the ball in the spots where he can be most effective.

He also has great hands that help him catch passes that are thrown to him both in the post, on the break and off the pick and roll. He has the potential to be a great roll man if he is paired with a good pick and roll point guard as his athleticism combined with his ability to catch most passes make him a threat to dunk it every time he rolls off a pick.

Defensively, he has the tools to be a fairly good defender. His is already getting over a block per game at the collegiate level and he has the strength to keep that up in the NBA. The fact that he appears to quite coachable should also help him defensively as he starts to learn the ropes of the NBA game.

Weaknesses:

Ultimately, he appears to be fairly limited on room for improvement. He can’t shoot jump shots, he is not a great passer out of the double team and though he is athletic, he does not have the type of lateral movement to be an elite defender.

Offensively, he is going to be much less effective as soon as defenders stop defending the jump shot for him and sag off of him. In the post, he has been very mechanical his entire collegiate career and does not show the type of fluidity that is required to become a true threat in the paint.

His lack of lateral mobility is going to be hard for him to hide in the post. Duke’s biggest weakness over Plumlee’s career was their struggle to guard the pick and roll. That was largely due to Plumlee not being great at hedging picks and not being able to keep up with the smaller guard rolling at the rim. If he struggled with it in college, it is only going to be worse in the professionals where the pace is quicker and the guards are bigger and faster.

What to expect in the NBA:

As a 23 year old, Plumlee is around his athletic prime already. As a player who strongly relies on his athleticism, he won’t have that many years left in the NBA where he can play at the peak of his powers. If Plumlee isn’t able to add some moves that don’t rely on his athleticism, there isn’t that much hope that he will become more than a serviceable big man who can play 15-20 minutes a night and mostly focus on rebounding.

Topics: Basketball, Duke Blue Devils, Mason Plumlee

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