2013 NBA Draft: 4 Possible NBA Destinations for Duke's Mason Plumlee
In a draft full of underclassmen and one-and-dones, only two of the players projected to be selected in the first twenty picks of the 2013 NBA draft have spent a full four years in college: Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and Duke's Mason Plumlee. In his four years as a Blue Devil, Plumlee has developed into the one of the college game's most dominant big men, averaging 17.1 points, 10 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in his senior season.
It is not yet clear where on the draft board Plumlee's name is likely to fall, but barring surprising developments during the pre-draft season, he will likely hear his name called somewhere between the 10th and 20th picks.
Few teams would not benefit from selecting an experienced and well-coached big man, but a few teams in particular would immensely benefit from adding Plumlee to their roster. Here is a look at a few teams that will almost certainly give Mason Plumlee heavy consideration on draft day.
Portland Trail Blazers
Just two games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers and four games behind the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings and with less than a one percent chance of moving up in the lottery, the Portland Blazers look almost certain to pick 12th in the draft, likely the earliest possible draft slot for Mason Plumlee.
The Blazers have been terrible this season at interior defense and desperately need an upgrade at the position to complement their young backcourt. The team is likely to lose J.J. Hickson, a 6'9" power forward who played center in his final year under contract in Portland, to free agency and will be looking for an upgrade at the center position.
Plumlee would offer the size and defensive presence that Portland is lacking. He is a good rebounder and talented shot-blocker, and with Portland currently 22nd in the league in rebounds and 24th in blocks, there is a great deal of upside to drafting someone like Plumlee.
Yet Portland still might hesitate in drafting Plumlee. After watching an undersized Hickson struggle to defend larger centers, Plumlee's height—somewhere between 6'10" and 6'11"—could give the front office pause.
If a 7-footer with a more traditional body for a center, like Kelly Olynyk or Rudy Gobert, are still on the board, this might be seen as a safer bet for the Blazers. Michigan's Mitch McGary could also tempt Portland, though, like Plumlee, he would be a bit undersized as a center.
Chris Kaman, who has played 21 minutes per game this year for the Mavericks as their center, is an unrestricted free agent, and Bernard James is far from ready to be the team's starting center. With Dirk Nowitzki playing less minutes per game in each of the past four seasons, the Mavericks need to add size to their roster.
Dallas is likely to have the 13th pick in the draft, a solid guess for where Plumlee is likely to be selected. The Mavs have shown their preference for defensive-minded centers in the past, winning the championship with Tyson Chandler as their team's starting big man.
Selecting Plumlee would also offer the Mavs increased salary cap flexibility. Kaman made $8 million last year, so even paying Plumlee the maximum under the rookie pay scale would leave the team with over $6 million in Plumlee's first year.
Dallas does have other needs, however, and if a player like Victor Oladipo or Michael Carter-Williams is still on the board, they could choose to address their center vacancy through free agency like they did last year.
The Cavaliers are one of those teams that need help at several positions, and with their high lottery pick, they are almost certain to choose the best available. If the Lakers make the playoffs, which is increasingly likely, the Cavs inherit the Lakers' pick, likely the 15th in the draft.
If the Lakers miss the playoffs, they keep their own pick and the Cavs would get Miami's pick, which is much later in the draft and almost certainly out of contention for Mason Plumlee.
Assuming the Cavs do indeed get the Lakers' pick, Plumlee would help fill the team's interior needs. The Cavs are second-to-last in the league this year in both rebounding and blocked shots, the two best facets of Plumlee's game.
If the Cavs end up getting lucky and move up high enough in the draft to select Nerlens Noel, they would likely seek to fill a different position with their later pick. But if everything falls into place, Cleveland is a very logical destination for Plumlee.
The Atlanta Hawks have two picks in the first round, one of their own and one from Houston, with both likely to fall between 18 and 20. The Hawks have a number of needs and will likely spend their first pick drafting the best available player. Atlanta's second pick would likely be Plumlee's firewall, as the Hawks would be unlikely to pass on the opportunity to offer support to Al Horford in the low post.
Horford is coming off the best year of his career in which he posted highs in minutes, points, rebounds and steals per game, and the addition of a player like Plumlee would free up Horford to be even more dominant on the offensive side.
Should Plumlee struggle during the pre-draft workouts, he could possibly be passed over in favor of big men like Mitch McGary, Lucas Nogueira, Jeff Withey or Steven Adams, but as of now, only McGary has a good chance of sliding ahead of Plumlee in the draft.