As we head towards the 2012 NBA Draft, it is time to give some looks at players who are borderline draftees, but may have the skills which could translate to a NBA career. The Case For….takes a look at these players and tries to give a brief outline of what skills they have, what they are missing, and what steps would eventually lead them to the to the NBA. This edition looks at a player with a NCAA title on his resume, but a lack of role for big men in his college offense has severely hampered his development – Duke’s Miles Plumlee. A good defender and rebounder, there may still be more to Plumlee’s game which hasn’t been found yet. Here is The Case For…Miles Plumlee.
Miles Plumlee, Duke, Senior 6’10, 245
6.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 61.0 FG%, 63.2 FT%
The Good – While Plumlee showed very little improvement over 4 years on the offensive end, he did become a somewhat reliable option on the defensive end for the Blue Devils. He uses his body well to defend the low post, and while his footwork in the post isn’t great, he has shown improvement over the last 2 seasons. Fundamentally, he is a strong rebounder, boxing out well and going strong after the ball. Offensively limited, he is athletic and does have the ability to finish strong around the basket. He also has a good understanding of the big man’s role in the pick-and-roll game, and he does a great job setting screens for his teammates.
The Bad – As I said, Plumlee is a decent athlete and has an understanding of his role, but on offensive, he just has not developed the skills to be any kind of a threat. His post moves are slow and awkward, he has very little touch, and is not effective outside of 3 or 4 feet from the basket. On the defensive end, he needs to improve his footwork to be able to counter quicker post players, and he has to do a better job anticipating shots, giving him a chance to block or alter them.
The Verdict – The lack of development was certainly disappointing and at times it looked like he may have even regressed. However, he came on the second half of this past season, and played more aggressively than I can remember any time in the last few years. As of now, I see little chance of him being drafted, but I do see the potential for a good project for a big man coach. I believe his lack of development can be mostly attributed to the Duke offense over the last few seasons and the lack of a real role for Plumlee to grow into. If he can keep up the aggressive play and hook up with a D League team committed to improving his offensive ability, there is still a chance that Plumlee can see a NBA roster one day, but not for a couple of years.
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Let's give Coach K the benefit of the doubt in his ability to use capable big men effectively(e.g. Sheldon Williams,Elton Brand). As you point out Miles Plumlee doesn't have good offensive skills and has been an offensive "project" for Duke,just as he would be for the NBA.