Mason Plumlee: Big roster surprise for Team USA


Mason Plumlee won’t be denied, he prefers to be the one doing the denying (just ask Lebron James). He’s not one to shy away from hard work, making it hard not to notice what he brings to the table when opportunities arise.

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Plumlee was part of a very talented 2009 high school graduating class, featuring players such as John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. It was expected he would be a college one and done, but that didn’t happen. Throughout his four year career at Duke, Plumlee made an impact, although really coming into his own during his senior season.

In 2013 he was drafted late in the first round by Brooklyn, but with the hoopla surrounding the Nets additions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Plumlee wasn’t exactly the talk of the town. Then Brook Lopez got injured, providing Plumlee the stage to step up and make others take notice. Over the season he appeared in 70 games, recorded 22 starts, averaged 7.4 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game. Although he’s not flashy, he provided a boost of needed energy to the Nets.

Even after being named to the NBA All-Rookie first team, Plumlee still wasn’t on the list of invitees asked to try out for Team USA. He was however asked to be part of the Select team, a squad comprised of 12 first, second and third year NBA players chosen to provide competition for Team USA candidates as they prepped for the FIBA World Cup. Upon arrival though, Plumlee made such an impression that managing director of Team USA, Jerrry Colangelo, bumped him up to the senior team.

So how did Plumlee go from a Select team member, to a player vying to make the final team roster, to ultimately making Team USA? The reason Plumlee secured a roster spot instead of players such as Damian Lillard and Chandler Parsons can most likely be summed up in one word: Spain.

Plumlee isn’t necessarily an offensive threat but that’s OK, Team USA has plenty of those. What the team needs are bigger bodies, who will defend, block shots and battle against the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka should the US face Spain as anticipated. Plumlee fits that workhorse role perfectly.

“…He’s valuable because he’s smart, he talks, he has a good spirit and he just fits in well with the other pieces we have on the team.”-Mike Krzyzewski

According to Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski, “All the coaches and players felt like Mason would be a valuable part of this team and that he gives us insurance at the ‘4’ and ‘5’ with a big. Whether he plays a lot of minutes or none he’s valuable because he’s smart, he talks, he has good spirit and he just fits in well with the other pieces we have on the team.”

Team USA teammate James Harden says Plumlee knows his role, “He just goes in, plays hard and rebounds the basketball, blocks shots, talks on defense, he goes in there and gives us energy. Even if he doesn’t play he cheers for the team, and that’s the kind of players we need going forward.”

According to Nets teammate Brook Lopez, look for Plumlee to seize this opportunity with Team USA and take full advantage of it.