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Duke Basketball: 3 Reasons Mason Plumlee Will Be a Solid NBA Player

Derek PiperCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2016

Duke Basketball: 3 Reasons Mason Plumlee Will Be a Solid NBA Player

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    Duke forward Mason Plumlee had an impressive junior season for the Blue Devils in 2011-12.

    The athletic big man averaged more than 11 points while grabbing a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game, tying for third most in the ACC. Plumlee also led Coach K's squad with 1.6 blocks per.

    Mason's brother, Miles, was selected No. 26 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. With more athleticism, defensive abilities and offensive prose than his older sibling, the senior could find himself in the lottery in 2013.

    Here are three reasons why Mason Plumlee will be a good NBA player.

Athleticism

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    In the NBA, athleticism in the low post is as valuable as gold to general managers. It's just as rare too.

    While he may not possess a Kevin Love-caliber jump shot or Dwight Howard's strength, Plumlee has all the athleticism a big man could hope for.

    Plumlee's quick feet and explosiveness give him an advantage over less agile defenders. This makes him outstanding in the pick-and-roll game, which is a significant part of NBA offenses.

    Plumlee can easily be described as a "poor man's Meyers Leonard." Standing at 7'1" 245 pounds, Leonard was drafted 11th overall by Portland in last year's draft.

    Plumlee is three inches shorter, but their playing styles are very similar. Both have raw offensive ability in terms of spot-up shooting and can outmatch defenders with their unique speed and physicality.

    The big man must improve on his shot to open up opportunities to drive to the basket against NBA defenses.

    Nevertheless, it can be expected that Plumlee will be taken high in the draft for his athletic potential, much like Leonard was.

Defensive Abilities

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    Anthony Davis dominated college basketball last season with his shot-blocking ability (4.7 per game).

    While Plumlee is not nearly as imposing on the defensive end, his knack for altering shots in the lane makes him a worthy NBA prospect.

    Plumlee ranked fifth in the ACC in blocks last season, and with better positioning, should improve on those numbers in 2012-13.

    The 6'10" senior will be the backstop on what has always been a well-coached defense during the Coach K era.

    Plumlee needs to improve on his strength to bang with the big boys in the NBA, but his length and leaping ability give him the potential to be an effective shot-blocker at the next level.

Rebounding

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    The ACC was full of great rebounders last season.

    Along with John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Richard Howell, Plumlee was one of four players in the conference to average more than nine rebounds per game in 2011-12.

    With his height, some may question his potential to grab boards consistently in the NBA, but Joakim Noah, Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace have shown that the best rebounders don't necessarily need to be seven feet tall.

    Plumlee possesses good box-out technique and soft hands, which aid him in grabbing opponents' misses. He is also exceptional at keeping plays alive on the offensive end, corralling just less than three offensive rebounds per game last season.

    The Blue Devils' forward has increased his rebounding totals each season in Durham.

    His continued improvement, along with his 6'11" wingspan (according to draftexpress.com), should be enough to catch the eye of teams positioned in the front-half of next year's draft.

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