James Stotts, Dru Lewis, Chris Bunn, Taylor Ostrick and I will be breaking down where we think each of Duke’s NBA Draft prospects will go in the draft. The first player is Mason Plumlee.
Celtics: 1st round 16th pick
Mason Plumlee proved himself as a lottery worthy talent in his senior season at Duke. Unfortunately, many NBA teams overlook him do to his age. I see Plumlee getting picked just after the lottery picks, 16th to the Celtics. The Celtics are team stuck between contending and rebuilding. Which ever direction they decide to go, Mason Plumlee will fit well. He can be a solid back up to Kevin Garnett on a contending team. If the Celtics stay the same, he will likely be the 4th big in the rotation and will see 10-12 minutes per game. If the Celtics decide to take the rebuilding route, Mason Plumlee has the potential to learn and improve his game. He can fit both roles, unlike many bigs, which makes him most appealing to a team who has not decided their direction. If he ends up with the Celtics, he can be a likely back up big or even potential starter for the future of the team. Once Garnett and Paul Pierce retire or go elsewhere, the uptempo team Rondo will run will play into Plumlee’s style. He may not be as talented as Jared Sullinger, but he has the speed and athleticism to play with Rondo on the break. The Celtics looked for this style big before with Chris Wilcox but Wilcox was frequently injured. I think Mason Plumlee can fill that role, and be a valuable big for the Celtics for their present and their future.
Hawks: 1st round 17th pick
I think Plumlee will end up in Atlanta. This may also be his ideal situation because he has the chance to work with Atlanta’s good crop of big men. He’ll have the opportunity to walk behind and learn from Al Horford, and possibly Josh Smith (free agent). I don’t think he’ll mark himself with starting potential right away, but I do think he’ll play at least 15-20 minutes a game. Plumlee will bring a huge upside as well. He’s one of those high energy guys that every scout raves about. Plumlee isn’t the most athletic guy in the world, but you better believe that he’ll have some sort of positive impact to whatever organization he ends up at. He does have one disadvantage to other guys in the draft, and that is his age. He may be seen to not have as much growing potential as some of the other younger guys on the draft board. I think he’ll have a solid rookie campaign.
Cavaliers: 1st round 19th pick
Plumlee entered 2012 as a bit of a mystery to scouts who were waiting for the former McDonalds All-American to blossom into the serviceable big men they anticipated immediately out of high school. As the season for Duke progressed Plumlee clearly became the inside force for Duke to succeed deep into the NCAA tournament. Although I don’t see Mason going in the top ten of the draft, I can see him being drafted in the first round between picks 16-20 (Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Chicago). With each team in the previous list needing serviceable big men, my gut instinct tells me he’s drafted by either the Celtics or the Cavaliers. With Kevin Garnett closing in on retirement and Jared Sullinger failing to live up to draft expectations many analysts are leaning toward the Celtics, but I’d have to consider the Cleveland Cavaliers the favorite. Early in Mason Plumlee’s sophomore campaign he was teamed with Kyrie Irving and for 8 games Mason Plumlee led the team in scoring. Placing him on the Cavaliers with Irving and Irving being able to work into the paint and drawing the defense, Plumlee could find himself the benefit of open shots, dunks, and rebound put-backs.
Bulls: 1st round 20th pick
I see him going to the Bulls at #20. His age seems to be his one hindrance in a draft of neophytes but it will be an asset to a veteran Bulls roster that seeks post depth and maturity as they take aim at another title run. Plumlee will be an excellent energy guy off the bench to spell Noah in his rookie year and would bring the toughness and defense the Bulls so covet. His ability to work in a high-low game will also be beneficial to work with Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer (should the Bulls not amnesty the former Blue Devil).
Taylor Ostrick from taylormadethoughts.com
Jazz: 1st round 14th pick
Plumlee is an athletic big with a great frame for the NBA. He is a high level rebounder and can run the floor and pass the ball very well for a big. He has shown significant improvement scoring in the post and can always be counted on to provide some highlight reel finishes around the rim. He has also shown that he isn’t afraid to work hard and add new pieces to his game each season. This is most easily visible through the steady improvement of his scoring numbers throughout his four years at Duke. The Jazz could use some of Plumlee’s size, athleticism and energy on the court. If Plumlee is soon able to develop a 15-foot jump shot he could be a valuable player off the bench behind Al Jefferson and even as a possible starter in the future.