The Other Guys: Mason Plumlee
You can point to many factors when you're looking to explain the Denver Nuggets' dream season:. The rise to superstardom of Nikola Jokic, the continued growth of Jamal Murray, and the breakthrough contributions of Monte Morris and Malik Beasley are certainly the headliners. A quieter, but no less important piece of the puzzle can be found in back-up big man Mason Plumlee.
Plumlee, in his sixth season and with his third team, likely will never receive any individual accolade outside of being named to the All-Rookie team, but his value to the Nuggets cannot be understated. In a season rife with injuries, the Nuggets' ability to turn to Plumlee for spot starts and dependable minutes off the bench has been crucial.
His per game averages aren't too much to look at -- 8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and nearly a block and a steal per game -- but are a well-rounded contribution to the winning effort. When the injury bug took Paul Millsap out of the line-up and Plumlee got the call, he responded in kind.
In the 16 games the Plumlee started for the Nuggets, they sported an impressive 11-5 record, a rate of success consistent with their season-long 42-18 pace. Upping his minutes from 20 to 28 minutes per game, Plumlee upped his game as well, averaging 10.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists as a starter and ensuring that Denver saw no drop-off in his showcases.
And if we're being totally honest, not every valued glue-guy on a team is a former dunk contest competitor, good for one astoundingly athletic play a game -- Plumlee isn't just workmanlike, he's entertaining too!
Unless you're the Golden State Warriors with an awesome starting five and nothing else, a team's success comes from contributions big and small. Without Mason Plumlee holding it together, the Denver Nuggets wouldn't be where they are today -- a game behind Golden State for home-court throughout the West playoffs.