Duke basketball alum silencing detractors in Detroit

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The most overlooked Duke basketball gem in the NBA is still Mr. Consistent.

Among the 27 former Duke basketball players currently in the NBA, Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee ranks somewhere near the bottom in terms of garnering headlines.

One possible explanation for that is Plumlee’s stable yet mediocre production from one season to the next and from one game to the next.

Quietly, though, in his first year with the Pistons after spending the past four years with the Denver Nuggets, the 30-year-old Indiana native, who went No. 22 overall at the 2013 NBA Draft, is on track for one of the best campaigns of his pro career.

Sure, one reason for his sizeable role right now is the fact Detroit looks to be an Eastern Conference cellar-dweller. After all, the squad has dropped four of its last five games and sits 3-11 overall as it gets set to host the Houston Rockets (4-9) at 7 p.m. EST Friday.

Nevertheless, with fellow Duke basketball products Jahlil Okafor and Frank Jackson as bench-warming teammates, Plumlee has himself seen a significant increase in minutes as a full-time starter for the Pistons after drawing only one start for the Nuggets last season.

A look at the Duke basketball product by the numbers

After tallying 10 points and nine rebounds across 27 minutes of action in a disappointing 123-115 overtime loss at the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, Mason Plumlee is averaging a career-high 8.7 rebounds to go along with 8.5 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.

Meanwhile, Plumlee’s playing time this season is on pace to mark an individual all-time high at 27.5 minutes per game. Speaking of individual highs, his 71.9 free throw percentage falls into that category as well.

Granted, none of the above numbers will earn the two-time All-ACC performer and 2010 national champ an All-Star nod or any notable accolades.

But as Aaron Kellerstrass of PistonPowered eloquently explained this week, there is real value in the franchise’s criticized offseason acquisition:

“He is a smart, fundamental player who sets a good example, is a good teammate, and doesn’t take anything off the table. He’s happy with any role he’s given and can show these young guys how to be a professional in the NBA.”

Kellerstrass continued:

“The Plumlee jokes were flying when the Pistons inked him to a 3-year deal…but [general manager] Troy Weaver is having the last laugh, as he’s been a valuable addition who now looks like a future asset.”

As Blue Devil fans can attest, it’s nice to know exactly what you’re going to consistently get from a mature 6-foot-11, 255-pounder like Mason Plumlee.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on Mason Plumlee plus other Duke basketball news and views.