“It’s whatever. That’s my quote,” Plumlee replied, shaking his head following Saturday’s practice.
Much was expected of Plumlee in his second NBA season after the strong summer he had, winning gold at the FIBA World Cup as a member of Team USA. But he’s struggled early on and has recently been lifted from the rotation in favor of Jerome Jordan.
“Well, it’s been tough. Playing some minutes is tough,” Plumlee said. “You get used to playing 20-25 minutes -- that stretch at the end of [last] season, I got real comfortable getting a lot of minutes. I’m back to playing a minute here, two minutes there, and you just have to build trust with the new staff.”
Said Hollins on Friday: “Mason needs to play better. ... It’s not just scoring because we’ve talked about Brook. It’s not just rebounding. It’s not just defense. It’s everything. Being [in] the right spot, making the right rotation, finishing a layup, getting a defensive rebound, getting an offensive rebound. And I have to go with who I have confidence in. ... That’s why certain guys play and certain guys don’t. You gotta give me confidence.”
Plumlee has played just 19 minutes in the past four games -- including a one-minute stint Wednesday in Philadelphia. He is shooting just 41.7 percent from less than 5 feet and has been blocked nine times in that area. He’s hitting just 48.6 percent of his free throws, while surrendering a 51.6 percent clip when defending the rim.
“The preparation never changes,” Plumlee said. “The preparation is easy when you know you’re playing, but it’s probably the hardest when you don’t game-to-game. You might not get in, but as long as you can keep the preparation the same, the lifting, the watching film -- it’s harder to do when you aren’t sure if you’re gonna play, but that doesn’t change for me.”
Asked about trying to get better, Plumlee replied: “It’s an exciting challenge. If I came back and I was the same player -- even though it might not show up in minutes or statistics -- I am getting better, I am improving. That’s kinda what I focus on each day. What I will say is our practices are great this year, so that’s really big for when you’re trying to improve, and when you’re not getting minutes in the game, practice becomes your everything. I love that we come out here and we’ll go live. It’s really big for me right now.”
Plumlee has had a tough go of it under Hollins. That was not the case under Jason Kidd, when the Nets were playing smaller.
“We spread the floor a lot more last year,” Plumlee said. “We played one big. Of course you have Paul [Pierce] spacing and driving. It was just a very different, different team. You had Shaun [Livingston] as a point guard posting up, so we really kept the floor spread. And then with Brook [Lopez] back and with Kevin [Garnett], we have more bigs this year. You have more guys in the post. The defense, I think our defense is better earlier this year, those are the main things.”
Plumlee, 24, wants to keep the right frame of mind and make the most of his opportunities -- whenever they come.
“At this point, I don’t have much to lose, so I just have to play loose and do what I can with the minutes I’ve earned,” he said. “I’m not looking for anything given, but you just have to do well with the minutes that you play and expect more based on that.”