In between all the talk of trades and free agency, Nets fans have sort of forgotten about the #22 overall pick in the NBA Draft: former Duke senior Mason Plumlee.
The 7’0”, 238-lb big man is more mobile and athletic than your typical seven-footer, and he can play either post position.
His offensive skill set has a similar amount of versatility.
According to Synergy, 39% of his possessions this past season at Duke were out of the post-up and he’s quite comfortable operating down there.
Though he lacks a mature back to the basket game, he does have a reliable hook shot from the left block. He converted a strong 52% of his field goals from there last year at Duke.
Plumlee also handles the ball well enough to take bigger, slower defenders off the dribble in the post. While it’s not a big part of his game yet, it’s enough of a threat that it helps him create a little extra space for that hook shot.
He also plays with a lot of energy on both ends. Combined with his leaping ability and good hands, Nets fans can expect him to catch quite a few lobs from Deron Williams this season.
He showed promise as a pick-and-roll big man at Duke, shooting 71% in that role as a senior, per Synergy. Only 6% of his possessions his senior year were in that role, but I’m guessing he’ll have many more opportunities playing with Williams.
One of the less obvious areas in which he contributes offensively is the frequency with which he gets to the foul line and converts there.
He shot over seven free throws per game as a senior, making 68% of them. Per Synergy, he drew a foul on 20% of his post-ups. He also improved his free-throw percentage in each of his three years as a starter, a good sign for the future.
According to Synergy, Plumlee took only ten jump shots his senior year at Duke, and so he doesn’t offer the Nets a reliable mid-range game or a pick-and-pop threat at this time.
However, his development from the foul line could be a positive sign of things to come in that area.
On the defensive side of the floor, Plumlee is a capable shot-blocker. He placed in the top six in the ACC in each of his last three seasons at Duke.
More importantly, he operates well defensively within a team defense already and plays within himself. For those reasons, he’ll be contribute valuable energy and defense off the bench.
Plumlee handles switches well and does a good job moving his feet. He looks to force ball-handlers to pull up for difficult midrange jump shots, and he’s happy to concede those lower-percentage looks.
He rotates well defensively and had success at Duke closing out on shooters. During his senior year, opponents made only 32% of jumpers off the catch in Plumlee’s area.
He defends those shots well because he has active feet and is quick to identify when he needs to rotate.
His defense on the low block, however, needs more refinement and consistency. At times, he’s too quick to let the offensive player initiate contact and seize strong position in the post. That results in Plumlee giving up much higher percentage looks closer to the basket.
At other moments, he’s overly aggressive, falling for shot fakes and giving up easy baskets to step around him. Finding a greater level of comfort and consistency in the post is a key for Plumlee going forward.
He is a very good rebounder, particularly on the defensive side. He led the ACC in defensive rebounding and finished second in the nation as a senior.
He also added an average of a basket a game last year off put-backs, according to Synergy.
Though Plumlee is far from the Nets’ biggest addition in the last week and he won’t be expected to play a major role, fans do have reason for excitement about his contributions this fall.
His versatile skill set gives the Nets some much-needed flexibility in pairing him with either Lopez or Garnett.
His rebounding skill and defensive aptitude will make him a good complement to Brook Lopez, and the thought of his energy paired with Kevin Garnett – quite frankly – is scary.
James Kerti is a basketball scout and consultant for college and NBA teams on player evaluation. For more basketball analysis from James Kerti, follow him on Twitter @jameskerti.