Plumlee back at Duke, but already realizes NBA is a different game

lkeeley@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

— As the Brooklyn Nets’ two-hour morning practice session wound down, a trio of big men worked on their long jumpers, banging in shots that were over or just in front of the 3-point line.

Mason Plumlee didn’t take many foul-line extended jumpers for Duke, in Cameron Indoor Stadium or on the practice courts where the Nets are holding training camp, but he’s no longer in college.

It’s a pick-and-roll world in the NBA.

“We haven’t put our offense in, but just in pick-up, you can see just how much people use the ball screen and play off of that,” Plumlee said. “It’s a 24-second shot clock, so it’s a lot more pick-and-rolls and quick-hitting stuff.”

Plumlee, the 22nd pick in the 2013 NBA draft, and the rest of the Nets will be at Duke until Saturday, beginning their season away from the distractions of home in a place they can just focus on basketball. The Nets have undergone major changes since ending last season with a first-round playoff loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Jason Kidd retired from playing with the New York Knicks and became the Nets’ coach, and Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry came from Boston in a draft-night trade.

Nets general manager Billy King, who played for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and graduated in 1988, brought the Philadelphia 76ers to train at Duke while he was their general manager. When he approached Kidd about making the trip this year, the coach was on board immediately.

“Why not have the opportunity to help us get closer as a team?” Kidd said.

After arriving Monday night, the Nets checked into their hotel, had a team dinner followed by a players and coaches meeting in which the former group did the talking, then woke up to come to their first practice Tuesday morning.

Before taking the floor, Krzyzewski addressed the team. Beyond his familiarity with Plumlee and King, he also coached Nets point guard Deron Williams and Kidd in the Olympics as the head of USA basketball.

“Coach K, he’s real,” Kidd said. “He’s very honest. He’s about being honest with his players. That stands for a lot. Because if you ask Mason and the Grant Hills of the world, they can always call, and he’ll give an honest answer. That’s saying a lot about a person in his position.”

When Plumlee met with the media, he had been with the team for about 18 hours. His main takeaways were that the pros are bigger and stronger than their college counterparts, and he knows what his role will be this year.

“It will be running, rebounding, bringing energy, playing defense,” he said. “The things that I did at a high level at Duke. We have enough all-stars that can put it in the hole. My baskets will be more opportunistic, playing off people, screening and rolling.”

As the only rookie on the roster – Garnett has been a pro (18 years) almost as long as Plumlee has been alive – Plumlee has one additional role: all of the duties, grunt work and initiation type, typically given to first-year players fall to him.

“With KG and them, I heard that it was an expensive list, too,” Kidd said. “I wish him luck.”

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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