Unless something changes, Mason Plumlee will be the starting center for the Trail Blazers again this season. Plumlee brings a diverse skill set that can nullify his weaknesses as a player. Plumlee is an excellent passer, solid rebounder and an athletic specimen. Unfortunately, his athleticism is not used properly on defense. Also, Plumlee has a limited low post game and range as a shooter.
However, there are times, such as the Clippers series mentioned below, that Plumlee’s skill set take the Trail Blazers to a whole new level. Let’s take a look at what Plumlee is capable of based on last year:
Plumlee showed up in a big way when matched up with superstar Anthony Davis. This game was back before Portland became the team that made the playoffs – back when they were well under .500. Plumlee displayed an all-around game to help the team pull out a much needed victory. More importantly for Plumlee, his free throw struggles of early season, and the prior season, were gone. He went 5-6 on this night and 6-6 the next game. Plumlee would later seal the Clippers series with a pair of clutch free throws.
Portland entered a must-win situation after going down 2-0 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Clippers were hounding Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and forcing anyone else to shoot. DeAndre Jordan swatted anything remotely close to the rim. It really seemed like an early exit for the Trail Blazers.
Jan 6, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee (24) drives past Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the second quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Even before the injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Plumlee turned the series around for the Trail Blazers. His passing ability at the top of the key forced Jordan out to guard him. Plumlee carved up the Clippers defense hitting cutters to the rim. I’m not saying the Portland would have beat the Clippers if Griffin and Paul didn’t get hurt in game 4 – I’m saying the Blazers might have been swept without Plumlee opening things up.
As valuable as Plumlee looked in the Clippers series, he looked lost and outmatched against the Warriors. The Trail Blazers were truly at their best last season when Plumlee tallied assists and that should not change going forward. Although Portland added another playmaker who likes the ball in his hands, Evan Turner, the team is collectively unselfish enough to keep the ball moving. Performances with high rebound and high assist totals are what the Trail Blazers need from Plumlee going forward.