Scouting Mason Plumlee

Thursday, May 23, 2013
By Jaryd Wilson

Duke v North Carolina State

As we approach the 2013 NBA Draft, we are reaching out to local experts to help us scout some of the players the Hawks may take in the first round.  We had Jim Kelley from help us scout Duke center Mason Plumlee.

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Mason Plumlee is nothing if not a great athlete. He runs the floor in transition and attacks the rim with tenacity. He is best known for finishing lobs on fast breaks and his now-famous rendition of the “Sky Hook.” He spent four years at Duke and improved noticeably every year, showing that he takes well to instruction and is constantly looking for ways to improve his game for the better of the team. His last year at Duke was the culmination of his development as he finally played like the top-10 prospect he was coming out of high school.

As far as weaknesses go, he lacks a consistent mid-range game and is very limited in the post. The jump hook was a move he added as a senior and his other moves, most notably a drop-step move out of a face-up in the post, are used sparingly if at all. He improved as a rebounder every year, but given his size and considerable athleticism he could stand to improve a bit more in that regard. His free throw shooting improved from abysmal to manageable as a senior, but there is plenty of room to grow there.

What did he add to his college team? What do you think he’ll bring to the NBA?

Plumlee’s greatest asset is his ability to run the floor and be a big target for guards in transition. He loves the easy dunks that come with transition play and he held a considerable athletic advantage over most of his contemporaries. He was an option in the pick-and-roll and with some more coaching could become a deadly roll man at the NBA level.

In the NBA I see him being an ideal second-unit center with the ceiling to become a starter. He can protect the paint well and when his energy is devoted to one responsibility (example: rebounder, defender, option on pick and rolls) his potential to contribute immediately at the NBA level.

What kind of style is he best suited for?

Plumlee would fit in beautifully in an up-and-down style that would take advantage of his ability to run from rim-to-rim. He runs his lanes very well and would basically be a play thing to any point guard with the ability to throw him lobs at the rim. He is already a serviceable option diving to the rim off the pick and roll and, with some coaching, could be a solid half-court option in the future. But the reason Duke fans loved Plumlee was the rim-rocking jams on the break and in time, NBA fans will too.

What sets him apart from other draft prospects at his position?

Where Plumlee is so different from his fellow power forward/center prospects is that he has grown into his game over the past four years as opposed to coming into college as a finished product, adding something, and taking the first ride out of town. Instead, Plumlee worked on his weaknesses and as a result is now as close to a finished product as you will find in the draft. He has proven his is willing to work and that has to be an attractive trait for an NBA staff.

What NBA player would you compare him too?

Nick Collison. Much like Collison, Plumlee was a four-year player at one of the best college basketball programs in the country. Both players improved every year, and both players will likely has entered the league as first-round picks. Collison’s career per-36-minute averages of 10.8 points and 9.3 rebounds since entering the league in 2004-05 look awfully similar to what Plumlee could produce. Collison has added a decent mid-range game, shooting 41-for-89 (46 percent) from between eight and 20 feet, per Plumlee, with some work, could do about that for a team in the NBA.

What’s your favorite memory of him at Duke?

My favorite memory of Plumlee’s time at Duke was this past season against Georgia Tech when he put a few nice post moves together to thrown down a mean dunk in the lane. The ensuing timeout began with Mike Krzyzewski jumping on him for a hug because of how fired up he was. Mason Plumlee gave Duke fans a lot of fun dunks but that will be the one that will always endure for me when I think of his time at Duke.

Here’s what some of the national mock drafts are saying about Plumlee: Analysis:  Few teams will enjoy the type of flexibility the Atlanta Hawks will this summer. The team will have only two non-rookie contracts (Al Horford and Lou Williams) guaranteed on the books for next season. With their two top-20 picks and a pair of second-rounders, Danny Ferry and his staff can afford to sit back and see what falls to them out of the lottery Analysis:  If Josh Smith departs as a free agent, the Hawks could move Al Horford to power forward — his more natural position — and search for a more traditional center. They will go hard after Dwight Howard this summer, but Plumlee, an athletic 7-footer who has developed a solid low-post game, is someone Atlanta can develop. Analysis:  Plumlee was one of the surprises in college this year, but may slip to the teens due to his case of “senior-itis.” Similar to last year with Tyler Zeller, younger prospects with more perceived upside may ultimately push the senior into the second half of the first round. He added some offensive skills around the basket and played the year with surprising consistency. He is a better version of his brother Miles, who somehow landed in the late first round in 2012. Analysis:  This might be a little low for the very athletic Plumlee, who tested well in Chicago and will be under consideration in the late lottery. Analysis:  Plumlee reminded everyone this week why he once was a highly regarded potential lottery pick. His elite athletic ability combined with a 7-foot frame make him a unique prospect at this point in the draft. At 23, he’s a little older than everyone else, but I think a team that wants to fly up and down the floor like the Hawks would love having him on the floor. Analysis:  The combination of a developing offensive game and already-there elite athleticism for a big man has turned the brother of Pacers rookie Miles Plumlee into a very solid choice.

Photo courtesy of

Tags: , , , , , , ,