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Scouting Report – Mason Plumlee

 

Time to kick off the full scouting reports for the 2013 NBA Draft, starting with the seniors first.  Leading off is a National Player of the Year candidate, a former National Champion, and one of the best big men in the country – Duke's Mason Plumlee.

 

 

Name:       Mason Plumlee     Age:   22     School: Duke

Height: 6’10   Weight: 235   Projected Position:         PF/C     

2012-13 Stats (As of  1/18/13):

17.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.6 bpg, 2.8 tpg (33.6 minutes per game)

62.1 FG%, 65.0 FT%, 63.8 TS%, 10.6 OREB%, 26.1 DREB%, 18.9 TREB%

 

SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN

 

Offense

Post Play

One of Plumlee’s biggest areas of improvement since last season, Plumlee has turned himself into a legitimate low-post scoring threat.  Plumlee has done a solid job looking to establish position on the blocks, and is capable of going over either shoulder to make his move to the basket, though he is much stronger and more fluid going over his left shoulder to his right hand.  Along with his improved positioning, he has become more aggressive in demanding the ball when he has his defender sealed.  He has a couple of go-to moves, including short jump hooks in the lane off of 2 dribbles, and a solid face-up move about 10 feet out where he can take a few quick dribbles to the basket.  Plumlee does need to do a better job holding his position once he establishes it on the blocks, and not let himself get pushed away from the basket.  Getting lower and using his lower body to anchor his spot as close to the basket as possible will allow him to make more power moves around the basket.  Plumlee is a solid screener on the perimeter and he can be a quality option going to the basket in pick-and-roll sets.

Footwork

Another area of improvement for Plumlee, Plumlee’s movements are a lot more fluid and with purpose.  He adjusts well to how he is being defended in the post, and looks to move quickly to avoid overplays and denial attempts.  As noted, he is much stronger, and confident, going over his left shoulder, but he is capable of going over either shoulder, taking 2 quick dribbles and shooting a short hook.  He has also shown a decent baseline dropstep, and the ability to face up and either go strong to the basket, or if the defense adjusts, use a nice spin move to create separation.  He is far from a finished product, and at times he can revert to hesitating too much if faced with a strong post defender.  Also, Plumlee needs to work on movements that bring him strong to the basket instead of 5-8 feet away.    

Ballhandling

Plumlee is an average ballhandler for his size, doing a good job minimizing the amount of dribbles he takes, and looking to keep the ball low and shielded from the defender.  He is much more comfortable with his right hand than his left, and you really don’t want him taking more than 2-3 dribbles when being guarded. 

Shooting

Here we come to one of the areas where Plumlee still needs some real work.  I’m not talking necessarily about a short or mid-range jumper, though eventually he will need to expand his offensive game a bit.  Plumlee is able to use both hands around the basket, but he needs to works on shooting the ball as opposed to pushing it towards the basket, especially on his short jump hooks.  A lot of his misses have come because he hits the rim straight on from the lane.  Just add some follow-through and a little arc and he could turn some of the misses into makes.  When he gets to the basket, he does a good job going up strong and finishing with a two-handed dunk.  One place he has improved is in his ability to use angles off the backboard to hit shots from just outside the lane area, allowing him to draw defenders away from the basket.

Rebounding

Plumlee has a good nose for the ball in offensive rebounding situations, and he does a good job establishing position around the basket to put himself in position for a tip or an easy 2nd chance shot.  He likely would have more offensive rebounding opportunities if the Blue Devils didn’t take as many long perimeter jumpers, which usually have longer rebounds.     

Passing Skills

Plumlee has good court vision, especially out of the low post, and he knows almost instinctively where his open men will be after the defense helps against him.  For the most part, he makes strong passes to the perimeter, and on target enough to allow his teammate to get a quick shot off.  He has also shown the ability to make passes off the face-up and dribble to the basket, making sure he draws the help defender over to him.  Where Plumlee needs to work is on anticipating the need to make a pass, especially against double-teams on the low blocks.  He should also work on being able to spot weak-side cutters for easy shots around the basket.

Free Throw Shooting

There is no doubt that Plumlee has become a better free throw shooter this year, but that doesn’t mean the fixes he made are long-term solutions.  Plumlee’s biggest issue is that he doesn’t shoot the ball as much as he looks to aim the ball right into the hoop. This may have brought Plumlee some early success this season, and may continue to do so in the future, but without shooting the ball, including arc and follow-through, he reduces his margin of error if he is slightly off to almost nothing.  His shot either will go straight in or miss – not much chance for a good bounce.  What does this mean long term? Probably not a lot.  The game has gotten use to big men who can’t hit free throws, but Plumlee could possibly leave a lot of points on the table, since he does a very good job drawing contact and getting to the line. 

 

Defense

 

Post Defense

Plumlee has always been an above-average post defender, but he has shown that he is capable of handling many types of post players this season.  He positions himself well in the post, and he uses his upper body to put pressure on the offensive player.  He can deny the post when needed, but prefers to on the player’s dominant side, forcing them to go long around him if they want to make a move into the lane.  He needs to work on using his lower body better to anchor his position, and using it to force his man away from the basket.  His footwork has improved, but he can still be a step slow against quicker offensive players, and his lack of foot speed combined with his preference to shadow towards the inside shoulder leaves him susceptible to dropsteps along the baseline.  When his man faces up, he does a good job not coming out too far and making his man have to score from the perimeter.  Plumlee also does a very good job hedging out on high pick-and-rolls, forcing the ballhandler to take a wide path around, though he needs to work on being quicker spotting and recovering to his man after he sets the screen.  In general, Plumlee has very good defensive awareness, and you can see him throughout the game directing the perimeter defenders to screens and other movements by the offense.

Perimeter Defense

Plumlee realizes that he doesn’t have the foot speed and lateral quickness to defend smaller, quicker players on the perimeter, so instead, he makes sure to position himself in a way which allows him to prevent getting beat off a first-step while also allowing him to close on a perimeter shot.  If he is caught out in space, a decent ballhandler should be able to beat him with a few dribbles, so Plumlee will likely find himself choosing to protect the basket and give up the jumper. 

Help Defense/Shot Blocking

Plumlee isn’t necessarily known for his ability to block shots, and with good reason; he isn’t great at it.  He can be slow to react to shots and the timing of his extension could use some fine-tuning.  However, he is very good as a weakside and basket help defender, and he uses his length well enough to alter opposing shots.  He has also done a good job not picking up fouls by staying grounded on shot-fakes and not going after shots he know he can’t get to without fouling.

Rebounding

Plumlee can be very good on the defensive boards, but with some improvements, he can be even better.  He is very good at understanding where he should be positioned for rebounds depending on the shot, and he is quick to get to the ball after the miss.  He does a good job going strong after the miss, extending his arms to get the ball up high, and securing it.  However, he needs to do a better job looking to box out or put a body on someone before he goes after the ball.  What he gets away with now at the college level, will likely not work as well at the NBA level.  Once he secures the rebound, he has also become a very sound outlet passer, seeing the floor well and knowing when he can take a risk throwing out over the top in transition.  

 

Transition

Plumlee runs the floor well on the offensive break and he is capable of getting out in front of the defense and finishing, or coming in as a secondary option.  He goes strong to the rim and can finish through contact.  He is a competent enough ballhandler that he can take the ball off the dribble for short bursts, or he can elevate well enough to handle passes around the basket.

Plumlee does a very good job hustling back on transition defense and is very good at finding angles to disrupt fast break chances when he has a play.

 

Summary

Plumlee is an odd case of a senior who has had significant minutes for a few years now, but is now really starting to develop his complete skill-set.  When it comes to the draft, this puts him in some ways almost like a freshman or sophomore, where you are trying to figure out where his potential really lies.  As noted above, he still has some skill development to do, but he is strong and athletic, and has shown that he can continue to add the skills necessary to be a low-post presence at the NBA level.  While I don’t think he is going to get too much better than he is now, there is room for improvement, and he does enough already to be able to step in and give a tam solid minutes.  He will make almost any team better next season.

 

Draft Value:  1st Round: Late Lottery-Mid 1st  (#9-17)

Plumlee provides a solid mix of an established big man who can defend and rebound with a still progressing offensive game.  Maturity and leadership skills to join any organization.

 

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Scouting Report – Mason Plumlee

The NBA Draft Blog Road to the 2012 Draft starts today with the beginning of this season’s Scouting Reports.  First up is a player who has shown flashes of great potential, but he never seems to be able to put all his talent together at one time – Duke’s Mason Plumlee.  The middle of Duke’s 3 Plumlee brothers, Mason is athletic for his size, plays hard, and is a good defender and rebounder, but his offensive game can be painful to watch at times.  Is this year he finally takes the next step and becomes a legitimate offensive threat?  Will it be enough for him to leave Durham after his junior season as a potential first round draft pick?  Let’s take a look at Mason Plumlee:

 

Mason Plumlee, Duke – Junior

Forward-  6’10, 240

(2010-11 Stats) 7.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 59.3% FG, 44.1% FT

Offense

Post Skills- Plumlee has the size and the body to be an effective player in the post, but some major issues are holding him back from fulfilling his potential.  First, while he does a good job getting position in the post, he does not have a grasp on how to turn that positioning into a good look at the basket.  As he makes his move, he, more often than not, ends up further away from the basket than where he started.  Next, he tends to over-dribble on his post moves, leaving him open to easy double teams and strips from help defenders.  While he does a good job creating space to get decent shots, they are certainly not the best looks he can get, and he will need to do a better job using his body to get closer to the rim.  He has ok touch around the rim, but his shot never seems consistent – he can hit a nice baseline turnaround jumper one possession and airball the identical shot the next time down the court.  If he can establish himself with one or two go-to moves, he can force the defense to help or double, creating more space on the perimeter for the shooters.  He also needs to do a better job with his passes out of the post, not forcing the ball out and seeing the whole court.

Footwork- For all the issues Plumlee has with his post moves, his footwork is surprisingly smooth.  He has shown the ability to execute a nice drop-step in the post, while also being able to face-up and take the ball to the rim.  Footwork isn’t his biggest issue, it’s finishing his moves effectively.  While he shows good footwork when on the left block, he is not as strong on the right, and he will need to work on that for the next level.

Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- Ballhandling is not one of Plumlee’s strong points, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that it is a hopeless cause.  His problem isn’t in handling the ball itself, he is actually good for his size, it is a tendency to overdribble – not knowing when his path is blocked.  He is susceptible to double teams and he needs to do a better job anticipating it and knowing where the open man will be.  He has good hands, and handles passes well, and is very good for his size catching the ball on the move.  He has gotten better at being able to take the ball to the rim when isolated on the perimeter, but he needs to improve both his left hand and how he finishes.  He has to be aggressive, not shying from contact and finishing strong.

Perimeter Shooting- Plumlee does not have a good mid-range game at all, but there is hope.  He does a great job getting good looks at the basket, it’s his actual shot that needs work.  His form is good, but the one thing he is lacking is a good arc on his shot – it is a very flat, line-drive kind of shot – so even when he is off a bit, there is really no chance of it going in.  If he can improve on this, he has the potential of being a decent offensive threat.  He is a very good on the pick and roll – his screens are solid and he opens up well to the ball after releasing.  If he can knock down the mid-range jumper on a consistent basis, he will force defenders to overplay, leaving him an open lane to the rim off of the screen.

Rebounding/Passing- Plumlee is a very good offensive rebounder, extremely active around the rim, with the ability to jump straight up and keep balls alive without fouling.  While increased strength would make him more effective in putting back misses, he has shown to be very adept at tip-ins and putting the ball back before the defense can adjust.  Passing is one area where Johnson could use a lot more work.  While it’s not that he makes a lot of bad passes, it’s that his decision-making and reaction time in the post to double teams needs to get better.  That being said, he does see the court well, but he needs to get better at anticipating what the defense is going to do.

Free Throw Shooting – A major weakness for Plumlee.  Not only does he not get to the line enough for a big man, but when he does, he doesn’t take advantage of it.  As I discussed with is perimeter shooting, it’s a fixable problem, he just needs to do a better job getting arc on his shot to give it a chance to get in the basket.  Getting to the line is a different problem.  Plumlee needs to become more aggressive – go towards the basket, look for the contact and finish strong.


Defense

Post Defense- As seems to be a pattern here, Plumlee does some very good things as a post defender, but the few weaknesses tend to overshadow them.  He does a very good job positioning himself well, knowing his man’s strengths and playing to them appropriately.  However, once his man gets the ball, Plumlee does not use his body as well as he should – backing off and giving his man room instead of trying to force him away from the basket. Just this small amount of space gives his man an advantage, allowing him to either get a better look for his shot, or forcing Plumlee into too many adjustments where he gets caught with bad fouls.  He has the body and build to be good post defender, he just needs to be more aggressive.  He does move his feet well though, and does a good job staying with quicker post players.  Also, he has improved a lot as a pick and roll defender, though he has to watch that he doesn’t hedge too much on the screen, giving himself space to recover.

Perimeter Defense- Plumlee has really improved as a perimeter defender, and is very good for his size.  He positions himself well, stays low and moves his feet very well.  He needs to become more aware of who he is guarding off of switches, and he needs to learn not to play all players the same – tighter on shooters, give some room to players who primarily look to drive.  He handles screens well and does a good job switching or getting through it, and he moves well enough to recover when he is beat on the perimeter.  He needs to become a bit quicker closing on perimeter shooters, but even a bit slow, he can alter perimeter jumpers.

Rebounding/Blocking- Fundamentally, Plumlee is a very good rebounder – boxing out well and going strong after the ball and securing it before he makes an outlet pass.  Again, it’s his lack of aggressiveness which prevents him from becoming an elite rebounder, though he has very good instincts for missed shots and can get to spots quickly to grab the miss.  He is also good at keeping balls alive which he can’t get to, and he doesn’t give up often on rebounds.  He needs to do a better job not trying to force outlet passes, instead making sure his teammate is clear before getting him the ball.  Plumlee is a decent shot blocker, but he still needs to work on being able to avoid contact as he goes for the shot.   


Summary & Intangibles

Athleticism – Good

BB IQ – Good

 

Plumlee does a lot of things well which would make him a good NBA player – he is athletic for his size, he rebounds well, and he has the potential to be a good defender at the NBA level.  However, he really needs to make strides this year with his offensive game if he wants to maximize his potential and his draft stock.  He doesn’t need to put up big offensive numbers to be effective, he just needs to be consistent enough on the offensive end that opposing teams will need to defend him well.  Of course, to go along with this, he really needs to add a few go-to post moves, as well as working harder at his mid-range game.  Going into the upcoming season, he has late-first round (20-30) value based on his potential, but at some point he is going to need to finally take the next step in his development.  We will check back in on his progress during the season.

 

We are just getting started on the Road to the 2012 Draft, make sure to check back often for more scouting reports, interviews and features.  Remember, leave any comments below, follow me on Twitter – @NBADraftBlog, or feel free to email me at the link up top.  Also, make sure to check out more of my articles over at SwooshNation.com