While the Brooklyn Nets have slumped out to a 6-14 start–the result of stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams all struggling with either injuries or inconsistency–rookie Mason Plumlee has been a source of reliable offense and hustle for head coach Jason Kidd off the bench.
At first glance, Plumlee’s stats are modest at best, with the forward averaging 6.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 0.4 assists, and 0.5 steals in just a little over 17.5 minutes a game. When you look closer, however, things get all the more impressive.
He is shooting 69.6% from the field and currently holds a true shooting percentage of 68.3%, which is tops amongst all rookies. Obviously, this isn’t the most fair of comparisons. By no means does the offense run through Plumlee, meaning he isn’t going to be forcing or working for a ton of shots, and he is only likely to shoot in the event that he has a preferable look at the basket. Regardless, he has the third best TS% in the entire NBA, and that is something the Nets should be excited about. Hell, I’m sure the Cleveland Cavaliers would take his production over Anthony Bennett‘s right now.
Plumlee is also sitting on an ORtg of 128, a number which would be near the top of the league if he qualified, and a PER of 17.58, which is second amongst rookies.
And while we certainly would see his production take some kind of dip if he was exposed to more playing time, he currently projects to average 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks over 36 minutes, a production level most teams would consider worthy of a primary spot in the rotation.
Coming off a decorated four-year career at Duke, Plumlee was an intriguing NBA prospect. He is wildly athletic for someone his size (6’11″, 235 lbs) and he showed the willingness to constantly evolve his game, adding a sky hook to his arsenal during his senior year. While he has never been an elite rebounder–often struggling against physical-minded forwards–the size and work ethic is plentiful, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Brooklyn staff managed to develop him into a reliable presence on the boards.
If you want to see this Plumlee-work ethic in action, just take a look at his brother, Miles Plumlee, who has rebounded from a brutal rookie season, entirely evolved his game, and turned into a reliable center for the Phoenix Suns. In 20 games (all starts), he has put up averages of 9.8 points and 8.5 rebounds over 28.4 minutes a game.
Mason, however, won’t have a brutal rookie season to overcome at this point; he has been too solid, and we really haven’t been given any reason to suspect a drastic decline at this point. Instead, he’ll be able to focus on adding to/developing his already impressive collection of skills (and hopefully developing his free throw stroke, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one). I think I speak for everyone in the Brooklyn Nets organization when I say I can not freaking wait.