Rarely is there a scenario where I’m ready to give up on a player before his first season in the NBA has even been completed. Honestly, I can’t even recall a situation where that was the case.
The Indiana Pacers and Miles Plumlee have changed that.
The Pacers selected Plumlee in the first-round of the 2012 NBA Draft–26th overall–despite nearly every draft expert and outlet projecting him as a second-rounder or even going undrafted.
The pick gained much criticism from around the league at the time and it continues to do so, as Plumlee has played in just 11 games this season for Indiana, while averaging just over three minutes in those games. He’s the very definition of a garbage-time player and he’s worn out a path between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Ind., where the Pacers’ D-League affiliate is located.
Other rookies out of Plumlee’s class — and many before it — have also spent a good portion of their first season with D-League clubs, but those players aren’t already 24-years-old like Plumlee.
When the Pacers selected Plumlee with that first-round pick, they should’ve been convinced he would be able to contribute from the jump, even if it was just as an extra big for depth. He hasn’t even been able to accomplish that. Plumlee has now been with the team for a full training camp and in stretches for five months. Has he not been able to grasp NBA defensive schemes yet?
Sure, the Pacers have a solid backup center in Ian Mahinmi, but Plumlee hasn’t been able to beat out Jeff Pendergraph for that fifth big spot on Indiana’s depth chart.
Plumlee will be 25 at the start of next season and will essentially be playing on a one-year contract, as the Pacers have a team option on his deal for the year after. It’s difficult to believe he will be anything more than he is now. Indiana picked him and raved about his athleticism, rebounding, and potential on defense, and he’ll basically have to showcase that in one season, if he can get the playing time.
Hindsight is said to be 20/20, but looking back at who the Pacers passed up to pick Plumlee has to leave them regretting doing just that.
Both Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors have both contributed this season and have been rotation players. Both were selected after Plumlee. Ezeli, who has filled in relatively well for the often-injured Andrew Bogut, does exactly what the Pacers thought they were getting in Plumlee — defense and rebounding.
Indiana’s wing reserves have played a bit of musical chairs with their playing time this season. Gerald Green and Sam Young have been inconsistent to say the least. Jae Crowder, selected eight picks after Plumlee, has been better than both of them this season for the Dallas Mavericks.
The list goes on, but we’ll let the past be the past. Hopefully the future brings more productivity from Plumlee, or you’re looking at a wasted draft pick for a contending team in the Eastern conference.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry