Mason Plumlee embodies Denver’s growing culture

Nov 29, 2018 | by Brandon Ewing, Mile High Sports

When the Denver Nuggets traded disgruntled center Jusuf Nurkic to the Portland Trail Blazers on February 12th, 2017, they acquired skilled big man Mason Plumlee as compensation.

The trade gave the Nuggets two things: It gave Nurkic a fresh start after becoming unhappy with his role in Denver and it gave the Nuggets a playmaking big man in Plumlee that could come off the bench while still playing a similar brand of offensive basketball as franchise superstar Nikola Jokic.

The trade formed a whole new world for Plumlee as he would now have to come off the bench after starting for most of his career. Before the trade, Plumlee had started in all 54 games for the Blazers in 2016-17 before being traded and had started 267 of the 369 games he had played in prior to that. Before his NBA career, Plumlee started 99 of his 141 games he played at Duke University, and missed just three starts in the final 70 games of his college career.

Coming off the bench instead of starting has not seemed to effect Plumlee. He has started in just 26 of the 122 games he has played in Denver, with none of those coming this season. His ability to adapt to his new found role with the Nuggets has been the key to his success. Even off the bench, Plumlee has been instrumental in the Nuggets’ performance so far this season.

“It says a lot about Mason Plumlee. You’re right, he was a starter on a playoff team, and he was a big contributor to that team,” Nuggets heads coach Michael Malone told the media at practice before the Los Angeles Lakers game. “Now, he comes here and, I think, initially it was hard. ‘Ok, now I am backing up a franchise player who is going to play 30+ minutes a night. What does that mean for me?’ What I have seen this year is Mason saying, ‘I am not going to worry about that. All I can control is that when coach calls my name and my number, I can go out there and impact the game’.”

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