Plumlee already figured to play a key role off the bench, but might find himself in the starting lineup occasionally given that Brook Lopez has a history of foot injuries and Kevin Garnett is entering his 20th season in the league.
Plumlee put in his best performance of the preseason on Monday night at Barclays Center, dominating the undermanned, lottery-bound Philadelphia 76ers to the tune of 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Nets coach Lionel Hollins had urged Plumlee, the team’s first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, to step it up on the glass. “Coach has been on [Mason] about rebounding the basketball,” Deron Williams said. “Especially after last game [when he had four rebounds], and he definitely stepped up to the challenge tonight.”
The only problem with Plumlee’s night? He couldn’t make a free throw. Plumlee shot just 4-for-12 from the charity stripe.
Might that get Plumlee a reputation as a guy opposing teams want to send to the line in crunch-time? “Might get?” Hollins said with a smirk. “I think he already has that.”
Hollins did add: “He believes he is going to start making them, and I think that as the game slows down for him and he gets more confidence, he will make free throws.
“He wound up having a big game and that’s what we need from him every night. That is the expectation we have for him. Not to get 20 points or 17 rebounds, but to go out and be aggressive.”
Plumlee continues to grow as a basketball player. Last season, the organization expected that he would spend a lot of the season in the D-League. He ended up being a key contributor for Jason Kidd’s team.
This offseason, he started in the Summer League and ended up helping Team USA win gold at the World Cup.
Plumlee still needs to work at his defense, rebounding and free-throw shooting, but he’s recently added some back-to-the-basket moves to his repertoire. And he can definitely still jump high, which is always a good thing.
Plumlee was still getting over the jet-lag from the team’s eight-day trip to China.
He definitely wouldn’t wish a regular-season trip to Asia on any team. “I wouldn’t do that to a team,” Plumlee said. “They aren’t going to listen to me, but I’d vote against that. It’s tough. It’s a full 12-hour time difference. And your sleep is very important as an athlete. You want to be on and locked in. Really, when you see some of the bobbled balls and [being] a step slow, that’s really what that is.”