It is too bad that the Nets are largely depleted of draft picks in the years to come, because if 2013’s first-round pick is any indication, general manager Billy King really has an eye for young talent.
On a day remembered for the acquisition of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry, there is a lesser-known Net who has been paying dividends.
First-round pick Mason Plumlee has been a pleasant surprise, providing valuable minutes off the bench. Thought to be a work-in-progress when drafted, and perhaps even a D-League player, Plumlee has been crucial in filling the shoes of the injured Brook Lopez.
At the beginning of the season, this column didn’t see him making the team playing behind the stacked frontcourt of Lopez, Garnett, Blatche, Evans, and even Teletovic. But through injuries, off-nights, missed games, not earning coach’s trust, Plumlee has been able to make an impact of late.
In Sunday night’s victory over the Pelicans, Plumlee notched career-highs in points and rebounds with 22 and 13, respectively. And he more than held his own defensively against fellow young frontcourt sensation Anthony Davis, the former number-one overall pick and an All-Star this season.
It has not been all highs for Plumlee this year.
He did not see much court time in January and failed to log any minutes in six contests as the Nets transitioned to a much smaller lineup with some success. However, February has been a different story for Plumlee who is scoring just above 10 points per game in just under 20 minutes of action through six games.
It is certainly too early to make any declarations on Plumlee’s career, but he has showed some signs of promise for the future, which should be more than enough to get Billy King excited.
If only he could have held on to some of those draft picks, who knows how many more Plumlees he could have found.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.