As he continues to compete for a spot on Team USA’s final roster for the FIBA World Cup this summer, the future is undoubtedly looking very bright for Mason Plumlee. After experiencing a solid rookie campaign with the Brooklyn Nets, Plumlee has his sights set even higher.
When asked recently if he wants to be a starter, Plumlee responded with, “Oh yeah. What player doesn’t want to start?” As a fan, you have to love that attitude.
Now, it’s time for reality. It is not always the best idea for a team start all if its best players. What’s most important is where and when a key player is most effective.
The prime example is Manu Ginobli of the San Antonio Spurs. Throughout his career, coach Gregg Popovich has brought Ginobli off the bench as the team’s leading sixth man. The results have been undeniable as Ginobli has carved out a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career and the Spurs have won four titles since he joined the team.
In his first year, Plumlee started in 22 of his 70 regular season appearances. All of those can be credited to the absence of Brook Lopez who suffered a broken leg last season. Plumlee was also a key component to Jason Kidd‘s small-ball scheme. He played much of last season at the center position.
This year, things could be slightly different. Lopez is back and healthy. With coach Lionel Hollins, the Nets will likely play a more traditional style. This means that Plumlee should see more time at the power forward spot, where he will be competing with Kevin Garnett and Mirza Teletovic.
Plumlee could be a great piece for Hollins to bring off the bench. His game, although limited, can be very difficult for opponents to match. He is a high-flyer who hustles the entire time he is on the floor and has the quickness to keep up with some of the bigger and faster forward’s in the NBA. With his athleticism, Mason has the ability to either block or alter any shot that is around the rim.
Through his rookie season, Plumlee averaged just 18.2 minutes per game. That number will surely be much higher this season as he continues to progress. He proved he will be a quality role player in the league for a long time.
Now, it’s about putting him in his most effective situation. That could mean coming off the bench and playing the role of the sixth man.