Nets Fill Hole With Athletic Center Mason Plumlee at No. 22

Josh Newman, Field Reporter

NEW YORK — Of the numerous holes to fill this offseason, the Nets are in the market for a big man. Preferably, that big man would be seasoned, athletic, defensive-minded and have the ability to run the floor while acting as a viable backup to starting center Brook Lopez. 

Miles Plumlee

At Thursday’s NBA Draft, the host didn’t get the big man many thought they would, but they wound up with one who appears capable of filling their needs. Once Reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year and Nets target Gorgui Dieng went to the Utah Jazz at No. 21, the Nets used their 22nd overall pick on Duke center Miles Plumlee, a four-year player for the Blue Devils, who figures to step into the rotation as Lopez’s backup.

Theoretically, Plumlee could possibly play some power forward next to Lopez if need be.

“I’m very excited about the Nets,” Plumlee said. “I didn’t work out for them, during the pre-draft process, but who wouldn’t want to play here? The guys they have here, the veterans. I really thought they had a good season this season and with Jason Kidd coming on as the coach, it’s a dream come true to be in a situation like this.”

“We like that he can bring athletic ability, he can run the floor, and get up and down, great kid,” Nets General Manager Billy King said. “I told him, ‘This isn’t your first time in Brooklyn and it won’t be your last. Now, you get to stay.’”

Plumlee is part of a growing Duke connection inside the Nets organization. He played for longtime Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who also coached King in the late 1980′s. Kidd also played for Krzyzewski at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I interviewed with the Nets in Chicago at the Combine, I’ve seen Billy a couple of times on campus, but never talked to Jason Kidd,” Plumlee said. “In high school, I was part of a winning program and in college, I part of another winning program. There was a standard of winning, excellence, whatever you want to call it. You leave those places with certain things, so I think I’ve benefited from those situations.”

In Plumlee, the Nets are getting a player who improved every season he was in Durham. As a senior, he averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in 34.7 minutes per game on his way to being named to the All-ACC first team as well earning consesus All-American second team honors.

For his career, Plumlee finished with 1,384 points and 1,088 rebounds.

“I think he gives us some athletic ability up front,” King said. “I’ve seen him up close his whole career. Coach K, I had a chance to really talk to him. When you see him progress from his freshman year, I think it was good for him to stay in school because he was able to become a complete player.”

Plumlee did not expect to fall to the Nets at No. 22, simply because he had worked out for teams between Nos. 10-20 including the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves were his final workout on Saturday.

Ideally, the 23-year old was going to end up on a team full of veterans and that is exactly what the Nets are.

“My strengths right now are just being athletic, getting up and down the floor, getting on the boards and finishing around the rim,” Plumlee said. “Things I have to work on, I have to be able to knock down shots consistently, that’s not something I did in college, I didn’t attempts jump shots. I think that’s something that can add a whole new dimension to my game.”

Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA