If you had told me last year that Mason Plumlee would make a case for having his jersey retired, I would have laughed right in your face.
But as it stands seven games into the season, Mason Plumlee is on course to have an epic senior year. Duke’s center is sending in dunks and snagging rebounds to the tune of 19.9 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. What’s more is that he’s cut down on his fouls and turnovers. He’s been the best player on a team beating top flight teams.
In all, Mason Plumlee has established himself as a serious Naismith Player of the Year candidate.
The key to having his jersey immortalized is either a second National Championship (he played limited minutes as a freshman on the 2010 team) or some kind of personal accolade. And the key to Duke’s success and to getting individual honors is Mason Plumlee’s double-double potential.
Coming into the season, Cody Zeller was the favorite to win the Naismith Award because he is a post player that can score, rebound and run the floor. Well what is Mason Plumlee if not a post player that can score, rebound and run the floor?
While I’m sure Mason Plumlee has the team’s interests ahead of his own, if he can use these games against lesser opponents to pad his stats and solidify a double-double average for the season, then Mason Plumlee has a real shot at winning the Naismith Award.
That award would establish Plumlee’s lore in the pantheon of great Duke players. And if you still doubt the merits of Plumlee’s ascension, why not compare him to Sheldon Williams? Williams, who had his jersey retired, averaged a double-double as a junior and senior while stockpiling blocks (stats via GoDuke).
If Mason Plumlee can average a double-double this season while serving as the team’s leading scorer, something Williams never had to do because he played with JJ Redick, then Plumlee will certainly cement himself as one of Duke’s best post players.
The big thing that separates Sheldon Williams from Mason Plumlee is that “The Landlord” garnered two defensive player of the year awards while Plumlee’s trophy case lacks individual awards.
If Plumlee can add an individual honor to his resume or deliver Duke another championship (or preferably both), then it’s not so crazy that the No. 5 could be hanging from the rafters.