Mason Plumlee waited to the last minute to announce he was coming back to Duke for his senior season. Now, it is looking like he made the right decision as he is showing that his game has grown by leaps and bounds after a late season slump last year that put a damper on an otherwise solid season.
Although the season is only two games young, Plumlee is averaging over 18 points per game and just over eight rebounds per game. Although his rebounds are down from last season he is playing with a much more confident game, especially down low where he is becoming a nightmare for opponents and is averaging three blocks per game.
Plumlee is more confident in using his size to create advantages, drawing fouls, and not allowing opponents easy baskets as evidenced by the increase in personal fouls he has taken. He is currently averaging four fouls per game, up from 2.5 last season. Obviously you don’t want your star player coming close to fouling out every game, something he did with 34 seconds remaining against Kentucky, but his presence in the middle for Duke is something they haven’t had in years.
Plumlee must be accounted for down low which is going to open up shots for Seth Curry and company which is essential given Duke’s propensity for the long jumper and three pointer. Having someone like Plumlee in the paint means they can shoot with at least some confidence that Plumlee or fellow big man Ryan Kelly might be there to put back any rebound.
At this pace, Plumlee might find himself challenging for the Wooden Award, and more importantly, having Duke play deep into the tournament this year.