Mason Plumlee shows off his passing ability
Mason Plumlee had a pedestrian 0.9 assists per game last season (11.3 assist rate) but could improve on those figures greatly this season. He has great court vision and the fundamental passing skills necessary to hit the open man in stride. Plus, it does not hurt that he is surrounded by offensive weapons.
That ability was out in full force tonight against Princeton. He showed the ability to throw the correct outlet pass as well as the talent to find the open man when he is driving toward the basket. Let’s take a look.
This will be key for Duke this season with dynamic guards Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving running the show. A quick pass by the rebounders to the guards in stride will lead to countless open baskets for the Blue Devils.
In the first clip, Plumlee grabs the air ball and snaps the ball with an overhead outlet to Irving. Thanks to this pass, Duke goes on the break and Plumlee ends up with the hockey assists as Smith finishes at the rim.
We see Plumlee again look up the court as soon as he gets the rebound. He finds Smith, hits him in stride with a perfect pass and Smith is off to the races. Although Smith finishes on his own, the pass set the play up. Without a quick pass to Smith in stride, the break does not happen.
Thanks to the recognition of Plumlee, Smith has the chance to beat the defense down the floor and score before they can get set.
Off the dribble
Plumlee had two nice plays today that showed he has the court vision and awareness to spot the open man. Some players in his position in the following clips would put their head down and fight to the basket. Plumlee sees the open men and passes to them in great position to score.
After driving from the perimeter and drawing three defenders, he dumps the ball off to Singler for a layup. Instead of committing a charge or forcing a contested floater, he sees the open man and selflessly passes the ball off.
Starting from the elbow here, he again draws the defense and finds Irving for the kickout. Smart recognition yet again by Plumlee. I am not sure if all teams are going to give Plumlee the attention Princeton did, but if they do, Plumlee showed he can find the open man.
Apart from seeing freshman Kyrie Irving for the first time, the passing ability of Plumlee is the one thing that wowed me from the Duke game. If he can continue to make the smart plays and fill this role, Duke will continue to roll on offense.