What could Mason Plumlee offer Team USA?

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by Alex Mazer Comments
Mason Plumlee

Mason Plumlee could get a Team USA nod. (YES)

During Team USA’s second day of practices, Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee was upgraded from the Select Team to participate in scrimmages along with the other 19 team members. The team is in desperate need of bigs after losing Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Team USA’s managing director Jerry Colangelo went about that issue by bringing in Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, which only stalled the matter rather than solved it.

If Plumlee made that valuable of an impression on the coaching staff that quickly, they must think that Millsap won’t be enough to take on Spain’s very "big" 3 of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. Plumlee has a realistic shot at making the Senior Team, and here’s what he’ll be able to contribute if that dream does come true for the aspiring 24-year-old.

Team USA Center Comparisons

 
As of now, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond are the only pure centers on this national team; Kenneth Faried, Paul Millsap, and Anthony Davis are also slated on the roster, but they’re more comfortable at power forward.

Comparing Plumlee to Cousins and Drummond, he can certainly bring one important thing to the squad: efficiency. Here’s a table showing how these three bigs compare in certain undervalued statistical categories.

ORtg

TS%

Dist. (ft)

% Dunk FGA

AST%

BLK%

DRtg

Cousins:

107

55.5%

7.9

7.3%

17.8%

3.2%

101

Drummond:

121

59.9%

1.9

25.6%

2.2%

4.0%

104

Plumlee:

121

67.0%

2.9

40.4%

8.1%

3.6%

104

In simple terms, Plumlee has a higher true shooting percentage -- which factors in the added value of three-pointers and free throws -- than Cousins and Drummond, by more than 7%.

Much of that is because the percentage of Plumlee’s field goal attempts that are dunks are 40.4%, 14.8% more than Drummond and an even greater 33.1% more than Cousins. We all knew that Plumlee can rock the rim, but the fact that more than 40% of his shot attempts are the least difficult shot in the game means one thing: he's efficient. To put the icing on the offensive cake, Mason Plumlee’s offensive rating of 121 is equivalent to that of Drummond and 14 more than Cousins, implying that per 100 possessions, Plumlee would score 14 more points on average than Cousins.

Spain’s NBA bigs (the Gasol brothers and Ibaka) love to play at the basket and clean the glass for second-chance attempts. Knowing that, Team USA needs to establish their presence in the paint early, and one of the easiest ways of doing that is to send back a few attempts. Plumlee received global recognition for his game-saving rejection on LeBron James to complete the Nets 4-game regular season sweep of the Miami Heat last season, but he’s turned back a few more shot attempts that just that one. On the season, Plumlee blocked 0.4% more shots per possession than Cousins, and 0.4% less than Drummond. If included, he would be the team’s second best shot-blocker at the 5.

Mason Plumlee is just coming off his rookie season with the Nets and he already began posting numbers that reflected and sometimes even exceeded those of current USA National Team members. His per-game numbers don't reflect that he played just 18.2 minutes per game, and the chart above illuminates his impact on a per-possession basis. The team needs a rim-rocket that’ll beef up their size while not taking a toll on their offensive strategy, and if Jerry Colangelo is serious about filling that void, then Mason Plumlee is certainly his man.

Even if Plumlee doesn't get the nod for the FIBA World Cup, the experience he’s gaining this week during scrimmages with and against some of the league’s fiercest competition is priceless. But he's got all the intangibles to contribute right away to this team, and has earned his opportunity. Now we just have to wait and see what the team’s next move will be for Brooklyn’s youngster.