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Friday, May 10, 2013

Stock Attack: Mason Plumlee

Every year there are a couple of players that jump out at me as extremely overrated and Mason Plumlee headlines that list in 2013. He's been projected in the lottery, even top 10, all season long and still sits in the lottery discussion today. His stock looks more unstable now with Gorgui Dieng getting a lot of recognition and Steven Adams deciding to enter the draft, but there is still a strong belief that Plumlee will be a solid third big man.

Personally, I've never seen it with him. I've said all season long that Gorgui Dieng is the better prospect and still stand by it. Dieng makes fewer mental mistake, can consistently hit jumpers, and is a bigger presence at the rim.

Scouts like Mason Plumlee because he has improved every year. Thats one way at looking at it. But I see a guy who vastly underachieved his first few seasons given his situation and athleticism. Name me a Duke player who hasn't made big strides under Coach K. Look at how Nolan Smith is looking in the NBA.

This year Mason Plumlee did look much better, in part because he was more aggressive. He wasn't afraid of going to the foul line anymore since his shooting at the line improved.

History says that seniors that improve a lot their final year aren't to be trusted and the eye test gives similar concerns. If it takes you four years to put it together at a school like Duke when you have great athleticism, that sends up some major red flags. Coach K consistently gets the most out of his players, gets them drafted higher than they should be, and then we hear all about how Duke can't produce NBA players. Yet time and time again everyone falls into the trap of Coach K's magic.

Of course, evaluating prospects is a still a case by case basis. While Plumlee has his age and school as red flags, that is no way to determine if a guy is overrated. But when you watch Plumlee play, the amount of mental mistakes he makes throws up yet another red flag.

Then you get to talking about his position. Is he a power forward or a center? His mechanical style, lack of lateral quickness, smarts, or shooting ability suggest that he can't play power forward well. But as a center, his narrow hips and 6'10 wingspan are both major deterrents. You can improve your upperbody strength all you want, but genetically small hips are a different story.

But what about his offensive game, you say? He did put up over 17ppg in the ACC. But what translates? He isn't hitting jumpers at a consistent rate. He constantly got pushed out of good post position on the block due to lack of strength. Plumlee did show off an improved post game this year and as I said, his aggressiveness didn't hurt either. But his post game is still very mechanical. There is no rhyme or reason to his moves. He makes a lot of awful plays the end of successful because of his athleticism and new found confidence. Take away some of that confidence he gained from this season and you are back to a passive player without much else. And its a fact that his confidence will take a hit once he reaches the NBA - it happens to most players.

Plumlee's post moves consist of a nice right handed hook shot and then a lot of freestyle. A lot of stuff he won't get away with at the next level. He can't freestyle his way to the rim in the pros from post position 15 feet out. The help defense is too good.

It is really hard to pinpoint what Plumlee's strengths will be at the next level. Is it his defense or offense? Is he just a good all-around player or a player who isnt good at anything?

I've been leaning towards the latter side so much that I've fallen over. And based of Mason Plumlee's lack of balance, he better be careful he doesn't bust and fall on his face as well.

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