Offense: Quite simply, Plumlee is one of the most NBA-ready and offensively talented big men in the 2013 draft class. He is borderline dominant in the post, with a good combination of back-to-the-basket and face-up moves.
He finishes comfortable with either hand down low, and this year developed a running jump hook that makes it even more difficult for defenders to anchor themselves to his hip when defending.
Plumlee shows very good elevation both going up for shots and in situations (alley-oops, jump balls, rebounds) where he is expected to go get the ball. He is a huge target for his guards, and has soft hands that have developed tremendously during his time at Duke.
Plumlee shows a quick first step when he turns and faces to attack the rim, but in general is nothing special as far as quickness for a big man goes. One major concern is his ability to score efficiently against the kind of size that will make up starting NBA front lines.
The best example of the that we saw this year was when Plumlee went up against Maryland’s 7-footer Alex Len; Plumlee was active and involved, looking more comfortable than Len, but struggled to finish down low even when he had earned superior position.
He is almost 7 feet tall, but only has a 6’10 wingspan, which is slightly concerning and makes me worry that finishing at the rim will always be a concern for him.
He has clearly improved the ways in which he finishes comfortably, looking to dunk more and more during his time at Duke, and has good strength combined with large hands that make it very difficult to pry the ball loose, either in offensive or rebounding situations.
Plumlee is a comfortable passer out of the post, and handles consistent double teams with patience and savvy. He does not have great vision, and I worry that he will struggle to read quick-shifting NBA defenses, but his improvement over his college career is a good sign.
He delivers crisp passes, and has good anticipation for where his passing targets, especially weak-side shooters, will want the ball. He is an especially good big-to-big passer, but again struggles with elite length and size.
Plumlee forces a lot of high-risk passes, and while his team-leading 2.9 turnovers per game are concerning, they are also a reflection of the amount of time he spends with the ball in his hands.
The coaching staff and his teammates have a very high level of trust in him, and Plumlee often directs the offense from the top of the key, especially in secondary break situations
Plumlee does not have much range to speak of, although he has shown an improved jumper off his face-up in the post. He is a fantastic scree-setter, and rolls to the hoop with his head up, always looking for the lob.
He has huge limbs, and although his lower body is a bit plodding he will be quicker than many opponents moving forward. Although he lacks a main go-to move, his high comfort level with a variety of moves will be very valuable, as it is difficult for defenders to sit on any particular move.
- Quick first step for a big guy
- Soft touch even through around the rim; efficiency
- NBA-ready size
- Variety of post options
- NBA-level finisher as a big man?
- Can he process defenses quickly enough
- Can he handle elite size; Len matchup is concerning
Defense: Plumlee has good strength and size for an NBA interior defender, and despite lacking any ability to guard on the perimeter he is actually a versatile defender. He rarely falls for fakes or other misdirections, and stands his ground incredibly well.
He long legs and big lower body allows Plumlee to cover a lot of ground down low, and he switches interior screens well. He actually handles superior size better defensively than offensively, and 2.6 fouls per game in 35 minutes is not a bad number at all for a big man.
Plumlee has very broad shoulders and clears out space very well on the defensive end; a good portion of his 10 boards per game are uncontested, surprising for a big man and a reflection of the work he does in his box-outs.
There are some worries about Plumlee’s activity level; he tends to relax a bit once he has gained position. This does not really matter in college where he is so dominant physically, but moving forward could lead to lazy mistakes.
There are some questions how he will be able to handle quick size, as he struggles to recover when he has been beaten down low. He is not a dominant shot blocker and is good but not great as a rim protector.
There has been much praise for Plumlee’s discipline, but the one area where this is an issue is in his challenging drives; he goes for too many blocks out of his area, leaving the rim unprotected. NBA coaches place a high priority on their five-man’s ability to be a consistent presence at the rim, and will have no patience for this.
Plumlee is a good defender, but there might not be a whole lot of potential improvement. He is already a senior and an NBA-level rebounder and post defender, but if his lack of elite quickness and wingspan are exploited early on, he may have trouble adjusting.
He has a very good understanding of defensive principles, a skill that will be very important moving forward as he will likely be involved in a good amount of screens and potential switches.
- Size and strength combo
- Disciplined defender
- Rebounding; clears out space
- How much room for improvement does he have?
- How will he handle quick size
- Activity level
Overall: For most of the year many thought Plumlee was one of the most underrated NBA prospects in the nation. He can score, pass and rebound at an NBA level for a big men, and he will be a good first big man off the bench at the very least.
He was one of Duke’s team leaders this season, and down the road he assume a similar role for an NBA team, even if he is not the most talented moving forward.
Like everyone else in the 2013 draft, he is not without flaws, but he has the skills to overcome them. He has a great array of post moves and is confortable with the ball in his hands for long periods of time. He shows good patience and has the right level of aggressiveness, looking to dunk whatever he possibly can.
Defensively, the worries are about how he will handle superior size when he does not have a quickness advantage, and also about his potential lack of growth. But Plumlee is a fantastic rebounder and it is easy to see he has NBA-level size and strength simply by watching him run around.
He will never be a star, but Plumlee should expected to be an NBA contributor for a long time. Right now he should rank him anywhere from the 3rd-5th center on the board, and he should impact the lottery of the 2013 draft.