Duke center Mason Plumlee has been a popular name that has been linked to the Atlanta Hawks in various mock drafts. We are just two weeks away from the 2013 NBA Draft and I wanted to take a closer look at Plumlee as a potential first round selection.
Before we get started I think it is important to look at these prospects in the context with how they may be used with the Hawks. I am assuming that if a center is drafted then any paring with Al Horford on the court would result in Horford being aligned at the power forward position. I took this same approach when I took a closer look at Louisville's Gorgui Dieng who I think would be an excellent fit next to Horford.
Plumlee I see a little different and in many ways he is the opposite of Dieng in that he does a lot of things well offensively but isn't as complete a defender as Dieng. Offensively, Plumlee has a better post game, is probably a much better athlete and could be much more of a factor in transition. The question in my mind is that if he is playing alongside Al Horford does any of that matter? I don't really see the Hawks running plays for either Plumlee or Dieng for that matter, in the low post. With Josh Smith's return in question, Atlanta could be looking to for a center that is a good positional defender and that can help cover for his teammates.
Defensively, Plumlee is more than adequate one on one in the low post but he doesn't possess Dieng's ability as a help defender. That was painfully evident in his DraftExpress scouting report video where he struggled mightily in pick and roll situations.
Offensively Plumlee has a much higher upside than a player like Dieng and due to his speed could potentially steal some minutes at power forward if he could be paired with the right center combination. However, the questions about his defense in space would still be a concern.
For me it comes down to what the Hawks might want from the center position. Al Horford has been a more than adequate center but could potentially be even better if slotted at the forward position more often. Therefore they may choose to lean more heavily towards a defender and rebounder at the center position.
Dieng may not be around for the Hawks to pick at No. 17 and Plumlee could be one of the best center prospects left on the board at that stage. However, he is much more of an offensive player than defender.