Detroit Pistons: Mason Plumlee better than initially anticipated

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Pistons starting center Mason Plumlee is proving to be a better free agent signing than originally anticipated.

As the newly appointed Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver seemed fixated on stockpiling NBA centers’ Mason Plumlee landed a three-year deal that averages $8.2 million per season.

That three-year, $24.6 million deal became a major head-scratcher knowing the direction of the organization.  The Detroit Pistons are in the first year of what is expected to be a lengthy rebuild.  It’s a current Pistons roster that already looks entirely different from what it was just a year ago.  In fact, the teams’ longest-tenured player is Blake Griffin.

With Griffin likely around for another year and a half unless Weaver can find a trade partner willing to take on his lucrative $36-plus million per season deal, adding a veteran like Plumlee to the mix on a multi-year deal didn’t seem justifiable.

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You can make a strong case for adding a 26-year old like Jerami Grant, despite the large salary, but adding a 30-year old center, left many to question Weaver’s immediate agenda.  The rebuilding Detroit Pistons decided to allow budding-star Christian Wood to walk in free agency only to see the young forward average a whopping 25 points and nearly 10 boards per game early on in Houston.

The Pistons essentially replaced Wood’s production with Grant, who is averaging 22.8 points per game along with ripping down six boards per game.  Keep in mind, Grant’s tenacious defense and constant hustle don’t always show up on the stat sheet.

Adding Plumlee isn’t a replacement for Wood, but a replacement for John Henson and Thon Maker.  After trading Andre Drummond to Cleveland last season, the Detroit Pistons needed a complete center.  While Wood is a productive scorer, he’s much more efficient playing as a power forward rather than banging inside, protecting the rim as a true center.  The Pistons still have Griffin rostered along with investing in second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya and Grant, who plays the four when Griffin is unavailable.

While Plumlee isn’t capable of rebounding as efficient as Drummond, he’s proving his worth with his excellent court vision and passing ability for a big.  Plumlee, at 30-years old, is getting just his second chance to be a starting center and is making the most of this opportunity.

Plumlee has averaged 8.3 points, 6.2 boards, 2.2 assists per season throughout his career while shooting 57.5% from the field.  The veteran center is averaging a shade under eight points per game but is enjoying a career-high 9.8 boards and nearly five assists per game, along with shooting 61% from the field through Detroit’s first four games of the season.  If Plumlee can maintain this production, he will live up to his $8-million salary.

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The Detroit Pistons also took a flier on the talented Jahlil Okafor, along with drafting Isaiah Stewart.  Both backup centers’ will be pushing for a larger chunk of Plumlee’s minutes. After Stewart’s most recent performances, he’s likely to pass Okafor to be the teams’ primary backup center for the time being.