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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scouting Report: Mason Plumlee

Height: 6'11.5''
Wingspan: 6'10''
Weight: 240lb
Bday: 3/5/1990

Team: Duke
Class of 2013

Entering his senior season at Duke, Mason Plumlee is very much a known quantity to both NBA scouts and casual college fans alike. He is one of three Plumlee brothers who have played for Duke and believed to be the second most talented of the bunch. Miles Plumlee, perhaps the least skilled, managed to coax himself into a first round selection last June, upping the stakes for his younger brother Mason. Everyone would agree that Mason is the more talented player, but does his game translate to the NBA as well?

Offensively, Mason is best playing to his strengths. He is an explosive athlete with a decent frame, although more slight than his Miles', and can finish at the rim at authority. At times he will struggle to finish through contact, but he really improved his ability to draw fouls in the past year. Plumlee works well rolling off the pick and roll, performing it in a fundamental matter and showing off nice athleticism to the rim. On these plays, he does need to do a better job of gathering himself after he receives the pass (he does have good hands) and avoiding picking up charge fouls. Body control is something he can work on.

In the post, Plumlee lacks footwork or much feel for the players around him. You can tell when he gets the ball down low, he already has a plan in his mind on what he wants to do. Which isn't bad, but he needs to work on counter moves. Right now, he gets by without footwork because he has a nice hook shot that he can shoot from anywhere in the paint and with either hand. This may be his best offensive trait as he really does use both hands well. Besides that, his post game is very mechanical. He also is aided by his toughness inside and he tends to muscle up a lot of shots without regard for how much space he has. A lot of his post scores can be more attributed to determination and toughness than actual skill. He gets away with this in college, but his 6'10'' wingspan will be more profound at the next level.

When facing up, Plumlee almost always chooses to put the ball on the floor. He never settles for the jumpshot, something that was thought to be a part of his game out of high school, but we haven't seen much improvement or confidence from him with his jumper. His 57% free throw shooting can attest to that.

He has shown he can get to the rim from the 3-pt line, although he is inefficient when doing so. He has no control of his advanced moves, more of a vanilla ball handler, and ends up barreling into the lane and racking up charges. His first step is solid, but his driving game is not something that he should feature at the next level. Overall, there is a very awkward appearance towards his face up game. His focus in the gym should be his pick and roll ability and post moves.

When Plumlee gets deep post position, he does have a good enough feel to make a simple counter move at the rim. Nothing special, but it is something. However, Plumlee doesn't get deep post position often enough, working from 10-15 feet out most of the time. Plumlee does do a great job on the offensive glass  as well as in transition where his straight line athleticism really has a chance to shine. Over the years, he has also proven to be a good team player who possesses solid vision for a big man.

Defensively, Plumlee is a bit in between positions. Yes, center and power forwards can be interchangeable a lot of times, but being either a great rim protector or man to man defender is very helpful. Plumlee instead, is OK at both, but great at neither. At center, his weaker upper torso could hurt him and his shot blocking skills aren't special for his athletic ability. He gets a little over two a game, but nobody has ever thought twice about driving on him. In terms of perimeter defending, he shows good effort and knows how to defend pick and rolls, but his hips are stiff and he stands too upright, making his lateral quickness below average. His knowledge of team defense will come in handy, but his skills unfortunately aren't set up in a way to make him a great defender. As a rebounder though, he does a good job and should continue to do so.

With his older brother gone, Plumlee will no longer share time at the power forward and center position, giving him a chance to focus strictly on his inside game. He has a chance to prove he is more of a rim protector and just as good as doing the little things as his older brother. One thing the elder Plumlee had going for him that Mason doesn't is a larger frame, which allowed Miles more room to carve out space with his body in the post. Mason has relied more on his strength and athleticism to get up shots at this point. Duke has a chance to be very good yet again this year and Plumlee will be one of the biggest faces on this team. National recognition will not be needed - everyone already knows his game.

As we saw with his brother, smart big men who can jump are at a premium in this league. With Miles getting picked in the first round, it would make sense that the more talented Mason would get picked ahead of him. That logic is fair, but we also know Miles was picked too high. I think where Miles went in the late first round is more of a fitting landing spot for Mason, although I wouldn't be surprised to see him go higher. If it was me though, I wouldn't touch him before the late 20s. 

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