This is the eighth installment of our daily Nets player-by-player breakdown, with an emphasis on what’s to come for next season.
MASON PLUMLEE, CENTER
Year in review: Plumlee was a pleasant surprise as the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft was a first-team All-Rookie performer. When Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett went down with injuries, Plumlee filled in and provided much-needed athleticism and young legs on a veteran and experienced team. Plumlee averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds.
He delivered some highlight-worthy reverse dunks and alley-oop throwdowns and his signature moment was a block on LeBron James at the end of a regular-season win over the Heat. His playing time fluctuated as Jason Kidd opted to play his veterans. But Plumlee has provided the Nets with optimism for the future.
Role moving forward: Plumlee started 22 games due to injuries last season and logged 18.2 minutes a game. The Nets know they have to find minutes for Plumlee to develop him more. His minutes will be impacted by Garnett and Lopez. Garnett still has to decide whether he will return for another season. And Lopez is making another return off a season-ending foot injury. If both play next season, Kidd will be pressed to find Plumlee valuable minutes.
But if Garnett retires or wants to be traded elsewhere, Plumlee will have a bigger role since Lopez will be under a minutes restriction coming off surgery. Plumlee still has to develop an outside jumper and a post game, but he should improve inside and continue to score above the rim off alley-oops and in transition. Perhaps Kidd will loosen the offensive restrictions on Plumlee as well since the rookie wasn't really allowed to shoot from the outside.
Contract status: Plumlee will make $1.35 million in the second year of his rookie deal.
What they’re saying:
"I think Mason Plumlee, as a rookie, will be a much better player for the rest of his career because he played with Paul [Pierce] and KG." -- Nets GM Billy King
Should they bring him back? Plumlee’s athleticism is valuable to the Nets, who can use every bit of athleticism they can get. The key will be developing him more on the offensive end and having a point guard who can continue to create opportunities for Plumlee. If Plumlee can continue to develop, rebound and block shots, the Nets will be thrilled.