Mason Plumlee: Phoenix Suns 2013 NBA Draft profile

PHOENIX — “I’m just trying to be myself, the best version of me. You can’t recreate yourself before the end of these workouts.” – Mason Plumlee on his approach going into the draft


One season typically doesn’t make or break a four-year college prospect’s draft stock, but in the case of Duke center Mason Plumlee, the 2012-13 campaign might have solidified his place in the heart of the first round — something few could have predicted at this time a year ago.

During Plumlee’s impressive senior season in Durham — became just the second Blue Devil to record a double-double (17.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game) for an entire season under Mike Krzyewski — he showed off improved post moves in the paint, an ability to finish above the rim, a relentlessness on the glass (3.0 offensive rebounds per game)  and a rare second gear in transition (accounted for seven percent of his total offensive production).

Plumlee is the type of big that doesn’t require set plays to be effective at the offensive end. He’s skilled enough to excel whether it be on a put-back dunk or out of a screen-and-roll situation.

With that skill set and an upbringing in Coach K’s system, Plumlee according to Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is already an NBA-ready prospect heading into the draft on June 27.

“I know Mason right away in the NBA will be able to rebound,” McDonough said. “He’ll be one of the better bigs in the league running the floor. He plays above the rim, rebounds above the rim. There were a number of times in the workout where if he got the loose, the guards threw the ball up to the rim and he caught it and dunked it.”

Question marks

Although Plumlee has established himself as one of the more athletic big men available in the first round, his shooting touch and range outside of the paint leave something to be desired. Although he finished the 2012-13 season shooting a shade under 60 percent, most of his touches at Duke came off a missed shot attempt or in the post (40 percent of all possessions). He also took just 10 jump shots his senior season.

Over his final two years at Duke, Plumlee appeared to finally be comfortable in his own frame, while also adding necessarily weight for the purpose of strengthening his upper and lower body. But while his physical maturation had an impact on his low-post defense, Plumlee never appeared to be a very good rim protector during his collegiate career.

The 6-foot-11 prospect averaged at least 1.4 blocks per game from 2011-2013, but his unremarkable lateral quickness and help-side awareness were often exposed when playing against quicker guards or teams who liked to run a heavy dose of pick-and-rolls.


The Indiana native has the athleticism to be an effective NBA player without the basketball, even as a rookie. But the question with a lot of post players, especially those that come out of Duke, is how do they play when the ball goes through them?

As noted earlier, Plumlee bulked up as an upperclassman, which allowed him to play with more physicality in the post (7.1 free throw attempts per game in 2012-13). With that said, his tools aren’t exactly unique at the next level.

Sure, his off-the-ball traits will allow him to play right away, but whether he has what it takes to be a focal point of an offense is still up for debate.

How he fits with the Suns

Draft position aside, Plumlee would seemingly be a nice fit for the Suns, because let’s face it, in 2012-13 they lacked big men who could run in transition, attack the glass and play above the rim.

“I know they had a lot of turnover in their front office and with the head coach,” said Plumlee. “I’m anxious to see how they play. Coach [Hornacek] said they want to get out and run, I think that suits my game really well. I’d love to play for the [Suns].”

While Jeff Hornacek might want to play an up-tempo style next season, he’ll likely have to do so without the former Duke standout.

Unless McDonough finds a way to acquire a third pick in the first round, Plumlee’s services will more than likely be unattainable. The All-ACC First Teamer might not have played his way into the lottery this past season, but his stock is definitely higher than the Suns’ second first-round pick at No. 30.

And 1 … a second-rounder to consider

Dewayne Dedmon. Despite former USC head coach Kevin O’Neill’s best attempt to sell the 7-foot center as a lottery pick, Dedmon is far from it. He’s a project in every sense of the word.  The former Trojan had a nice junior season (7.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game), but he’s not close to being a finished product.

Dedmon, who only began playing basketball at the 18, brings to the draft a mix of pros and cons. He’s extremely long, has exceptional quickness for his size and can shoot from the perimeter with some surprising consistency. With that said, he’s not exactly your prototypical, polished big men. Defensively, he is very foul prone and lacks upper body strength to go pound-for-pound with players at his position. Offensively, his post game is rather non-existent, and he has a tendency to fade away from contact.

“Dewayne shot the ball well in the workout,” Ryan McDonough said. “You didn’t see a lot of that at USC, that wasn’t his role. But he’s really long, a good shot-blocker, and even though he’s 23, he’s still young basketball-wise. You can see some upside and improvement there.”

  • Scott

    I can see where Plumlee might appeal to Hornacek because he’s a hard worker, and that’s what Hornacek is trying to emphasize.

    Plumlee also brings size, athleticism, scoring, and rebounding.

    I have no problem with the Suns placing a premium on hard work, and looking for talent, athleticism, IQ, and so on as secondary considerations when deciding on which hard workers to take.

  • Forever is2long

    I like Plumlee but I like Dieng better. As the article outlined these guys are only relevant if the Suns acquire a 3rd first round pick. I think both of them can play the four spot and would be an improvement defensively over anything on the current roster.
    I guess now we can watch who is invited back for a 2nd workout.

  • Scott

    I agree. I think Dieng has a greater upside, in that he’s not been playing basketball as long as Plumlee, and yet he’s still an effective center.

    Dieng is a hard worker, and so far as I can tell he’s a high character guy. He’s still raw and underweight, and he doesn’t score as much as Plumlee, but he seems quicker on defense, and on an offensive set he can move away from the basket and still be a threat. He gets more blocks and makes fewer TOs than Plumlee. In time, as he gains strength, weight, and experience, he may become a better scorer than he is now (10 ppg).

  • Scott

    Here’s a bit of draft speculation.

    Chad Ford’s got the idea that Orlando is now fixated on Oladipo with their 2nd pick. If they take him and keep him, and if we assume Noel, Len, and McLemore are also gone, that will leave the Suns potentially picking either Porter, Bennett, or Burke.

    Now, if Minnesota was frustrated in their attempt to trade up for Oladipo, and if McLemore is also not available for them, would they still give both their 1st round picks to the Suns for the #5 pick? And if so, who would they pick, and should the Suns make this trade?

    BTW, ESPN has been featuring a daily quote from Popovich … “The Daily Pop.” If you like Popovich’s pithy observations, these are worth reading.

    “I don’t love [basketball] the way everybody else does. I don’t sleep it and eat it. I already did that, and I know what I like to do, what I like to coach, and that’s what we do. But I’m not gonna beat myself up over a loss and I’m not gonna pat myself on the back about a win. It’s basketball, and it should hold that space in your life. So I don’t think it’s all that important. It’s our job. We work at it, and then you let it go, and think about life, because life’s pretty damn short. I’ll make sure I’m not coaching as long as Nellie and Larry [Brown], that’s for sure.”

    – Gregg Popovich, January 2011

  • Forever is2long

    Scott, If Mclemore and Oladipo go one two, Len would likely be available at 5 as Wizards seem to like Porter and Bobcats have a lot of interest in Bennett or maybe even Noel. I will say this I would not be stunned if Noel is available at #5.

    So if McLemore, Oladipo, Porter and Bennett are gone, who would you guys want the Suns to take at #5. I have seen more than one report there are concerns with Noel’s knee.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    Well, if Noel drops and the other guys are gone, then clearly he’s the guy to take. Take the best player available.

    I just hope the Suns can get a whole wad of additional picks in the first and second rounds, because they’re already a few years behind in the rebuilding process and looking at a few more rebuilding years still ahead. They ought to try to catch up in a hurry.

    Some are suggesting that the Cavs want Porter, and may take him first. I could also see them taking Len first, as he can play at C right away, which – with Tyler Zeller already on board – would make Varejao available for trade. Heck, they could conceivably even trade Varejao to OKC for either Lamb and PJ3 or all 3 of their first round picks, which would be an interesting move.

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  • THEDRAGON!!!!!!!!!!

    Agreed, I don’t mind mason plumbee. Mcdough seemed to be impressed with him in his workout. Hopefully the Suns get 2 high draft picks and they get him and someone else.

  • Scott

    I’m not sure McD was that impressed with Plumlee. IMO, he had Plumlee in to see if he had anything more going on, or if he was exactly who they thought he was in his college scouting.

    I think McD appreciated Plumlee’s effort and would like to see that kind of effort from all the prospects. But McD felt free to compliment Plumlee at length because he knew he wasn’t going to pick him and didn’t mind making him look more attractive to other teams.

    If Plumlee had shown greater lateral quickness than expected or a better shooting touch than expected, or something along those lines, IMO the Suns might have interest. But the fact that they talked him up leads me to believe he does not possess those qualities.

  • Ty-Sun

    I was just reading something interesting about Portland’s potential interest in Gortat. The Suns and Blazers might be talking about a draft night trade instead of a pre-draft trade for the #10 pick. Basically there are rumors that the Blazers will use the 10th to pick FOR the Suns and then make a trade for Gortat after the fact. But if the player that the Suns want at 10 is already taken then the trade wouldn’t go down.

    That would actually make more sense for the Suns if they’re not completely sure that who they want in the draft would still be available at 10. That way they would still have other options for trading Gortat without taking the risk that the player they want in the draft might be taken before the 10th pick.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    I assumed that would be the case, and it makes the most sense to me. That way either team can back out, which is reasonable.

    ATM, the players I want most out of the draft are Zeller, Adams, and Goodwin.

    Zeller because he’s got a will to score, and he’s big, fast, and athletic. I expect him to see the floor well and make good passes. The only question I have on him is his defense, but he puts the effort in, and physically he’s a better match for opponents at PF.

    While I was initially cool to Adams, what I like about him is he seems to be a high IQ, high character guy who doesn’t mind a little banging in the paint. He’s got the size and length of Oden, but no physical red flags. He’s a project, but he already shows many signs of being a great center.

    As for Goodwin, I’ve sung that song already. I just believe in him.

    If the only pick the Suns gain is #10, these are the guys I would go for.

    ATM, I’m thinking the top 4 picks are going to be: Porter, Oladipo, Noel, and Len. If that’s the case, I feel comfortable taking Zeller at #5 (ahead of McLemore, Burke, Bennett, McCollum, and Mohammad).

  • Scott

    Or, possibly, the Suns should take Adams with the #5, if they feel teams are less interested in Zeller, and if Adams might be more tempting to a team than, say, Mohammad or McCollum.

  • Ty-Sun

    I was also reading about some other potential draft pick trades that don’t involve the Suns but could influence how the first few picks of the daft go down. One that I thought sounded like a good idea for both teams was Orlando trading the #2 pick to the Clippers for Bledsoe. There were more details than just a straight up trade but Orlando would get the PG that they want badly and the Clippers could take either Oladipo or Porter, either of which could have an immediate impact on their team next season.

    It’s looking more and more as though Oladipo may be gone before the 5th pick. I’d still love to see him in a Suns uni but it’s looking unlikely that he will last until the 5th pick. From what I’ve been reading, both Zeller and Adams could be available at 10 and I’m not as sold on Goodwin as Scott is so I would take McLemore at 5 if he is available and Oladipo is gone. But the draft is still 13 days away and much can change between now and then especially if some of the rumors about teams shopping their draft picks turn out to be true.

    And Scott, I wasn’t saying that I don’t like Goodwin, just that he might not still be available at 30 if the Suns decide to go big early.

  • Ty-Sun

    Regardless of everything I’ve read about and/or seen off all this year’s draft prospects, for once I really have some confidence that McD and Horny will get together and make good choices in this year’s draft. I don’t care if they pick who I think is best. I just want the best players they can get for the Suns… through the draft, through trades and through free agency.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    DX has Goodwin in the mid 2nd round, so it could be that scouts have cooled off on him even more. It’s always so hard to tell, and as you note, we’ve still got time on the draft clock for things to shift around again.

    Also, I agree the combo of Hornacek and McD really look like they are going to be better at scouting talent than Gentry and Blanks were. I feel pretty confident that we’re not going to get any Beasleys, Browns, Brooks, or Telfairs, and not even a Wes Johnson or a Morris.

  • Ty-Sun

    The Morris twins might actually be worth keeping for the 2nd unit if the Suns keep both of them. I doubt either of them will ever be 1st unit players but together on a team’s 2nd unit they could be an asset. But if the Suns decide to trade one then they should probably trade both.

    Johnson is possibly a keeper for the 2nd unit too if he’s willing to play on a cheap, 1-year contract. That also depends on whether the Suns trade Dudley during the off-season as well as which players they draft and/or pick up through the FA market.

    I can’t see any reason to keep Brown. I think that even if he is just waived that the Suns will only owe him half of his contract next season. Better to pay him half and have him gone than to pay him a full salary to sit at the end of the bench.

    I’d love to see Beasley gone too but I think they’ll give him one more chance – off the bench – next season to get his game and his head together… unless McD can find some other team willing to take him as part of a multi-player trade.

  • Scott

    I don’t mind trading Brown for Tom Rob, so long as the Suns have room on the roster.

    I also don’t mind the Suns keeping the twins, as I don’t really expect the Suns to get all the players out of this draft that I would like, and I do still hope something clicks and they start landing their shots.

    As for Beasley, I think it’s a question of whether or not he’d be a poison to the team. They’ll trade him if they can, and pay him off early if they’re worried about his influence.

    I don’t see the Suns re-signing Johnson any more, unless they make some odd moves.

  • foreveris2long

    Scott, I am not big on predictions but I can absolutely guarantee Zeller will not be a top 5 draft pick. The Suns would never in a million years take him at the 5 spot.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    Well … what can I say to that? If the Suns have to pick someone at #5, and if they value hard work, that eliminates Bennett, who walks down the court on defense. The Suns already have a quality PG, so that puts Burke on the back burner. McCollum is small for a SG, so that’s not ideal, especially for such a high pick, in that the Suns need a real starting SG. McL could be that guy, but he appears to have maturity and focus issues. (It’s easy for me to imagine him getting into off-court trouble.) So it comes down to Muhammad and Zeller, doesn’t it? And Zeller has a similar scoring aggression to Muhammad, but he plays defense, is more athletic, he’s taller, and at least at this point – though they are the same age – Zeller has the more advanced game.

    I imagine what you’re thinking here is that you’d take Burke over Zeller. But to me, if it comes to Zeller or Burke, I’d go with Zeller, because the Suns don’t have anyone, really, at PF.

    Who’s at PF? Scola, Frye, Beasley, and Markieff Morris. Scola will probably be traded away this summer. Frye still isn’t cleared to play, and we don’t know if he ever will despite the hopeful outlook. Beasley is someone the Suns are likely to want to trade away, or pay off, or something, and Markieff Morris has yet to show he can really hold down that spot.

  • Scott

    Ideally, the Suns would trade the #5 to Minnesota if there’s no one there that the Suns want. But if there’s no one there the Suns want, is there someone there that Minnesota wants to trade up for? Probably not.

  • foreveris2long

    Scott, McD has been very clear he is drafting based on the potential to be the best player. It won’t be based on need or hard work. I doubt hard work without potential will get it done for McD. I think he wants someone with a high ceiling and willing to work hard to reach their potential.His first draft at the number 5 spot is not going to be someone who has trouble playing against good bigs in the paint. Now if Blanks was here he would likely draft Zeller. Thank goodness he is gone.

  • Scott

    ^^ I understand the idea is to draft the best player. You clearly believe Burke > Zeller, while I see it more like Burke = Zeller, in that they have similar profiles to me, but play different positions.

  • Scott

    Let me also add, in case it isn’t clear, that I don’t WANT Zeller. And I don’t NOT WANT Burke. I want the best player available, and I think McD will do his best to make that decision.

    As for Blanks, I think his favorites at the top of the draft would be Bennett and McLemore.

  • Scott

    Eh, sorry if it looked like I was shouting above. I should have used quotes, not upper case.

  • foreveris2long

    Scott, Absolutely no offense taken. I did not think twice about it until you mentioned uper case. Good dialogue. I will say what is confusing me about your take on Zeller is you tell ATM in #11 is the players you want most is Zeller, Adams and Goodwin and now you are saying you do not want Zeller.

  • Scott

    Well … those three are the players that I see as being the most talented and also filling essential needs for the Suns.

    Burke is talented – maybe not the most talented, or maybe he is – but the Suns have PG covered, so it’s not essential to get him.

    If Burke was clearly the most talented, sure, I’d say pick him up.

    But with the Suns potentially losing everyone at PF, losing Gortat (so they only have Haddadi), and having no one at SG (except maybe Tucker?), it seems wise to me to fill those spots.