While the Brooklyn Nets get away for training camp, rookie Mason Plumlee is the one guy returning home.
“For Mason, being back home is comfortable,” said head coach Jason Kidd. “He knows this campus very well.”
But Plumlee is no longer the big man on campus. After a sensational senior season at Duke, a university where he graduated a national champion, Plumlee is going to have to earn his minutes behind future-Hall-of-Fame and veteran talent.
But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t willing to listen and learn.
“From the guys like Kevin, even our coach, Paul, Jason, they have been successful, but they’ve done it for a long time. Some, close to two decades,” said Plumlee. “To have that longevity in this league is rare. I watch how they take care of their bodies, to see what Kevin would do after workouts, before workouts, even before the season got going. There is a science to it. Picking up what they do is going to be valuable.”
This has certainly got his teammates’ attention.
“He came from a successful program. Anytime a guy goes to school for four years, plays for Coach K for four years, he’s going to be semi-ready for the NBA,” said point guard Deron Williams. “He’s still a rookie, he’s still got a lot to learn. His athleticism is amazing. He can run the floor like a deer. He’s coachable. He’s willing to listen and learn. That’s all you can ask for as a rookie.”
“The hardest adjustment for any kid coming out of college is the pace of play, the communication, and the terminology,” said guard Jason Terry. “So, now he has to pick up the terminology, and just being in the right place at the right time. More importantly, like I told him: listen first, slow to speak. So if he follows the guys in front of him, he’s going to be all right.”
The changes in basketball for Plumlee are surely going to be his biggest challenge. Instead of dominating college freshman, he needs to dominate Kevin Garnett.
“Everybody is bigger, stronger, faster,” said Plumlee. “There are some quick kids in college. But everybody is bigger and stronger.”
Plumlee’s landed in a great spot in Brooklyn. Name a better situation for a late first-round draft pick than playing behind Kevin Garnett, one of the most well-regarded big men in the history of the league, and an offensive force in Brook Lopez.
“(He can learn how to be a) professional. The work ethic. These guys have a lot of wisdom,” said Kidd. “Being able to understand what it takes to be a champion. And what it takes to not be good, but great in this game.”
Plumlee has many traits that will transfer right into the NBA level. He’s fast, he’s athletic, he’s got a well-balanced low post game, and he can rebound.
“(Those are) things I did at a high level at Duke,” said Plumlee. “We have enough All-Stars that can put it in the hole. My game is to be more opportunistic, playing off screens and rolls. It will be running, rebounding, bringing the energy.”
“He’s seven-feet, so anything by the basket, he’s ready,” said Kidd. “But I think what he’s done is developed a jump shot. He’s a guy that can shoot the 15 and 17-foot jump shot. He’s also NBA ready because he wants to get better. He’s never satisfied. You don’t find that a lot in this league, but we have a great one because of that.”
Of course, being the lone rookie on a team full of veterans means that he’s got some things to do.
The rookie hazing treatment of MarShon Brooks famously resulted in a car full of popcorn and carrying a pink purse in public. It’s only been a few hours, but that has already started.
“He had to get some things yesterday from the store,” said Williams with a smile. “Nothing too bad. Mason’s good. He’s a good rookie.”
“Unfortunately, he is the one rookie on this team. He was given a list. From KG and them, I have heard that it was an experience,” added Kidd.
What’s on this list, you ask?