Back during the second day of the 2013-14 NBA season, I wrote a piece on Miles Plumlee and how he had an unusually impressive game in his debut with the Phoenix Suns.
I always liked Plumee and–given his complete inability to perform at the NBA level up that point–I wasn’t sure how many more opportunities I’d receive to write about his NBA career in a positive tone. Yet, here I am almost two weeks later, ready to sing his praises all over again.
Plumlee hasn’t been kind of good. he has been exceedingly fantastic.
Through seven games, the former Blue Devil boasts averages of 11.7ppg, 9.6rpg, 2.3bpg, 0.3 apg, and 0.4 spg, all while shooting 50.7% from the field and averaging just 2.1 personal fouls a contest. It has been the most welcomed of surprises for Phoenix, as the man they gave up in the Plumlee trade back in July, Luis Scola, has slumped out of the gates (7.8ppg, 3.1rpg, 0.6bpg) for the Indiana Pacers.
As it goes with any player that suddenly finds success over a short period of time, plenty have cast off Plumlee’s performance over the course of the season a fluke, and perhaps it is, but from where I’m sitting, it certainly doesn’t look the part.
I get where they’re coming from: he never played this dominant in college, so why should he be able to succeed against professionals on a daily basis?
As anyone who watched him at Duke could tell you, the tools were always there–he was always incredibly athletic for his size, had a decent shooting touch, and he possessed a superb basketball IQ–it was just a matter of whether or not he could put it all together. Out in Arizona, where his game fits in nicely with Jeff Hornacek’s system, Plumlee has indeed put it all together.
Offensively, he has been incredibly versatile, teaming with guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic for a variety of pick-and-rolls and lobs, along with the previously mentioned shooter’s touch in the paint. On defense, he has been even better:
Hornacek said Plumlee’s value goes beyond even his 5 blocks. Alters shots, doesn’t swing thru on block attempts (only 1 foul tonight) #Suns
— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) November 11, 2013
Hornacek credited #Suns league-leading fastbreak points to defense, Plumlee blocking shots, and overall effort on that end of the floor.
— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) November 10, 2013
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 7, 2013
It is rare to see a younger player play hard, smart, and effective on the defensive end, but that is exactly what Plumlee has been bringing to the table on a nightly basis so far.
It isn’t just the former first-round pick exceeding expectations in Phoenix, either: the entire team–with a 5-2 record and 6th-best defense in the league–has been quite the surprise in the NBA and, like Plumlee, most are waiting for them to crash back down to Earth.
For Duke and Suns fans alike, I’m sure they’re completely fine with waiting a little while longer.