Mason Plumlee: Duke Senior Is by Far the Most Valuable Player in CBB Today

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIDecember 18, 2012

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 28:  Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drives to the basket against Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 28, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Naismith Player of the Year Award.

That's the award that identifies the top player of every college basketball season.

It doesn't, however, necessarily equate to who's the most valuable player to his team.

As of right now, Indiana Hoosiers sophomore Cody Zeller and Duke Blue Devils senior Mason Plumlee are the two front-runners for the Naismith Player of the Year Award.

These two players are actually fairly similar in some respects as well.

In fact, both had older brothers played college ball (Luke Zeller at Notre Dame, Tyler Zeller at the University of North Carolina and Miles Plumlee at Duke). Both of their older brothers won a national championship in college (Tyler Zeller in 2009 and Plumlee in 2010), and both all three would go on to be drafted to the NBA.

Now the two younger siblings are battling it out to be 2012's best collegiate player.

Let's get something straight: they're both incredibly talented kids, and will both find themselves playing in the NBA at some point in the near future.

When looking at their numbers, a statistical argument can be made for either of them. Zeller averages 15.7 points per game on 60.7 percent shooting and 8.5 rebounds per game. Plumlee on their other hand, averages 19.2 points per game on 61.1 percent shooting and hauls in an average of 11.3 rebounds per game.

Judging by those numbers, one would likely side with Mason Plumlee for player of the year off the bat.

Yet the biggest reason Plumlee should be considered the best player in America is because his team would be absolutely lost without him.

Sure, Indiana would also take a major hit if it were to lose Cody Zeller, but its supporting cast and bench is much stronger than Duke's and would be able to absorb losing Zeller much easier than Duke would be able to should it lose Plumlee.

It's the fact that without Plumlee, the Blue Devils would most likely have lost at least two games by this point, would no longer be ACC favorites and would be a candidate, once again, for an early exit in the NCAA tournament.

While the Naismith Award isn't necessarily given to a player who's most valuable to his team, in this case, it's the reason why Mason Plumlee should be the front-runner for the award in 2013.


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