Mason Plumlee, 6-foot-11 center, Duke: An excellent example of a player using his full four years in college to develop, Plumlee had a breakout campaign as a senior, finally capitalizing upon his potential. Always a superb athlete in terms of explosiveness, being able to run the floor and agility for a big man, the middle of three basketball-playing brothers at Duke displayed a much-improved skill level in his final college campaign. In addition to being the top player in a very successful program, he became a dominant interior force and while his role is unlikely to be as significant on the next level, Plumlee showed that he is capable of being a contributor in the professional ranks.
[Draft Capsule: PF Kelly Olynyk]
Career highlights: A 2009 McDonald's All-American, after a middling freshman year, Plumlee found his niche as a high-energy rebounder his sophomore year, highlighted by a 25-point, 12-rebound, five-block effort against Marquette. As a junior, he showcased increased scoring ability, though lacking consistency and although he was a third-team all-ACC selection, the Blue Devils were upset by Lehigh in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. To conclude his collegiate career, Plumlee was a first-team all-conference pick on the strength of averaging a double-double and leading Duke in scoring on the strength of monster performances like a 21-point, 17-rebound game against Ohio State, 32 points and nine rebounds against Wake Forest and a 23-and-13 outing against hated rival North Carolina, en route to advancing to the Elite Eight, where the team lost to eventual champion Louisville, despite his 17 points and 12 rebounds.
[Draft Capsule: C Steven Adams]
Strengths: Plumlee's quick feet, ability to run the floor and leaping ability should result in plenty of easy opportunities on the next level, reflecting his efficient shooting numbers at Duke. He's an active offensive rebounder, can catch and finish, play above the rim and displayed a willingness to bang inside, which should help him be solid on the defensive glass. He plays within himself, can be a factor in the pick-and-roll game and has developed solid post moves, including traditional hook shots, not to mention understanding how to utilize his size on the defensive end of the floor.
[Draft Capsule: SG Vander Blue]
Weaknesses: Although he's gained strength over the course of his college career, Plumlee could stand to add more bulk in order to contend with his NBA counterparts. He was Duke's leading shot-blocker for three consecutive seasons, but he wasn't prolific in that aspect of the game and can improve overall defensively. Plumlee's offensive game is largely confined to operating in the paint, so extending his shooting range would be a benefit to his progress as a player.
[Draft Capsule: PG Phil Pressey]
Draft projection: Viewed as anywhere from a late-lottery to mid-first round selection, Plumlee has been a known commodity to NBA teams since his prep days. For teams seeking size, especially those with a point guard who can manufacture high-percentage chances for him. Due to his age, he isn't universally seen as a prospect with endless upside, but because of his athleticism, evidenced by his outstanding athletic-testing measurements at the pre-draft combine, as well as his late-blooming track record from college and pattern of continual improvement, in a system that fits his skill set, he could experience better-than-expected development. Plumlee certainly has more potential than his older brother Miles, a Pacers rookie, and it wouldn't be shocking to see him be a rotation player from the outset of his pro career, with an opportunity to be a long-term quality reserve big man or a high-energy starting center for a team featuring an up-tempo offense.