Oklahoma City Thunder: What NBA Draft prospect Mason Plumlee has that the others don't

Duke center Mason Plumlee has size and athleticism. But he also has maturity that could be beneficial to a championship-caliber team if the goal is to add a ready-made player who can contribute in Year 1.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 13, 2013

Mason Plumlee is 23 years old.

Strike one.

He's a four-year college player.

Strike two.

He lacks post moves, has a funky shooting motion and has trouble containing the ball.

Strike three.

So why would the Thunder even consider taking a chance on the Duke center with the 12th overall pick?

Maybe because Oklahoma City concentrates more on what players do well rather than dwelling on what they don't.

Maybe because Plumlee's four years of college experience will be viewed as a positive instead of a negative.

Maybe because underneath all his perceived warts, Plumlee has a skill set that just might fit perfectly with the Thunder.

More than any other prospect in this year's draft, Plumlee has two things going for him that could be enticing to the Thunder.

He has size and athleticism. And he has a wealth of experience.

The former, of course, is the Thunder's most pressing need. The latter, meanwhile, offers maturity that could be beneficial to a championship-caliber team if the goal is to add a ready-made player who can contribute in Year 1.

“I feel like I'm ready to help a team win right away,” Plumlee said at the draft combine.

Plumlee credits coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke's illustrious program for that.

“The longer you spend in the program I think teams can kind of know what to expect,” Plumlee said. “Like little things. Like, you're going to show up on time. You're going to practice hard … Some guys get to the NBA and they still show up late to things. I think the character of (a Duke) player is kind of known if they make it four years through Duke and Coach, because Coach isn't going to put up with that kind of stuff.”

In Plumlee's case, the Thunder seemingly would have to choose intangibles over potential.

It's been four years since a four-year college player was drafted in the top 15. The last senior selected in that range was Terrence Williams, who was taken 11th overall out of Louisville by a team that no longer exists, the New Jersey Nets.

Since the first round expanded to 30 picks in 2004, only 53 of a possible 270 players selected were seniors — roughly six per season.

This year, the website draftexpress.com projects only two seniors to be selected in the first round, Plumlee and Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum.

Will the Thunder thumb its nose at that trend?

If you focus on Plumlee's strengths, it doesn't seem out of the question.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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Editor's note: As part of the James Harden trade with Houston last October, the Thunder obtained the No. 12 overall selection in the June 27 NBA Draft via Toronto. We look at 12 potential candidates the Thunder might consider taking with that No. 12 pick. Today: Duke center Mason Plumlee.

MASON PLUMLEE

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 238

Birth date: March 5, 1990

Hometown: Arden, N.C.

School: Duke

Class: Senior

2012-13 stats: 17.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.4 bpg, .599 FG, .681 FT

Strengths: Terrific athlete. Runs the floor extremely well. Finishes strong and consistently on the break. Uses his height and athleticism to rebound with regularity at both ends. Has good hands, a soft touch and a nice jump hook. Smart defender who guards his man without fouling.

Weaknesses: Struggles to score outside of the painted area. Doesn't have post moves or counter moves. Inconsistent free-throw shooter. Poor shooting mechanics. Shies away from physical play. Poor on-ball and pick-and-roll defender. Doesn't contain the ball well and frequently gets beat off the dribble in isolations on the perimeter.

How he could help the Thunder: He potentially could step in and contribute right away. He's a big target with good hands and can catch and finish, which would make him a threat in the pick and roll. He could keep possessions alive with his offensive rebounding and thanks to his athleticism could be another stronger finisher on the fast break.

Projections: No. 12 (hoopsworld.com); No. 17 (SI.com); No. 18 (draftexpress.com, nbadraft.net, hoopshype.com); No. 20 (espn.com).

Quotable: “Mason has just developed. He's worked really hard since last spring to develop a better offensive game inside, and he's got good touch. And one of the key things he does out of there is pass. He can really pass the ball.” — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

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