Photo Source: MSN/FoxSports
By James Blackburn
Game Scouted: Ohio State vs. Duke (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
Duke wins 73-68
Mason Plumlee (F, 6’11”, SR)
39 min, 6-11 FG, 9-12 FT, 17 reb, 2 assist, 1 blk, 21 TP
Another solid game for Plumlee who has had a remarkable senior campaign at Duke so far this year. Plumlee’s number one strength is his athleticism. He had several dunks this game including a big one-handed throw down that was SportsCenter “Top 10” worthy. Quick leaper. He plays the game above the rim and this will translate well to the pros. Something else Plumlee does extremely well is rebound, especially this year averaging 11 rebounds per game. He uses his athleticism to explode to meet the ball rim level and secures boards w/ 2 hands. Gets practically every ball in his area on the defensive end, and he also rebounds the ball at a solid rate on the offensive end. Something I was impressed with this game was his ability to run the floor. Reminded me of watching Tyler Zeller from UNC run the floor last year- runs hard rim to rim and gets easy baskets this way. Always beats opposing bigs down the court and beats opposing guards at times as well. He has a great build and sets hard/wide screens.
Duke uses him mostly in P/R and post ups. He excels in the short corner and showed the ability to face up and score using the jab step and spin moves. Post offense has improved- showcased a nice left handed hook. Is a better passer out of the post then his 1 assist indicates- but he jumps in the air to make most passes. He is in excellent shape as he played practically the entire game and didn’t show any signs of being tired. High motor and he never quits. Leader on the floor- gets players together in huddles.
Looking solely at the stat line and box score, there is little to critique based on Plumlee’s game tonight, but there are clearly areas where he must improve. The most glaring weakness in his overall game is his shooting. His jumper is flat and his release point is low- shot is exaggerated. He doesn’t have good form and is not confident in his shot, even hesitating to take open 15’ jump shots. His free throw shooting has improved significantly and he did well from the line tonight, but I would not call him a “good” FT shooter. Is barely over a 50% FT shooter for career, but is shooting 80% so far this season. Hit most of them tonight- has changed his routine to where he doesn’t dribble the ball at all and shoots. Shot needs a lot of work overall.
Offensively his post game is still raw, as he relies on his strength and athleticism to score. He has a drop step and a mini hook but that is about where it ends. Has a great build but struggled to secure deep post position this game. Also struggles to finish over athletic bigger players.
The other area of primary concern is on the defensive end. Defending the screen and roll, protecting the paint, and defending on the perimeter are areas he must improve in. He didn’t do a god job of showing on screens and getting back to his man- does a decent job hedging wide and stopping penetration- but its almost like fake hustle because he didn’t get back to his man quick enough allowing him to score. Needs to improve as shot blocker- with his athleticism should be blocking more then 1 shot- doesn’t even attempt to block the shot half the time and doesn’t protect paint like he should. He is a better on ball post defender then off the ball post defender and he struggled to defend on perimeter, which is something he is going to have to do playing the PF position at next level.
Plumlee is clearly the leader and best player on an undefeated Duke team. His rebounding and athleticism will translate well at the next level as well as his ability to run the floor. What I think scouts are over looking however is his in ability to shoot the ball and his defensive deficiencies. At the NBA level he is going to be asked to defend screens and defend on the perimeter, two areas of major concern for Plumlee. The majority of his scores come from his hustle for offensive boards, running the floor, and his athleticism. I believe he would be a solid offensive player who could get a team 8-10 points a night off the bench to go along with 6 or 7 rebounds. I see him being taken in the lottery, possibly top 10, but I do not think he is a top 10 player. I would draft him in the late first round or early second round.
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