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Miles Plumlee understands that the Indiana Pacers did not draft him for his propensity to produce offensively on the basketball court and admitted so much at his introductory news conference on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
That's a good thing he made that clear, because he's never shown any tendency to score on the basketball court. However, Plumlee, as well as the Indiana executives that selected him, said that the 6-foot-10 center has the ability to score; he just wasn't drafted for that purpose.
“You have to understand what your organization is about,” Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard said. “We're a smash-mouth team. We find hard-working kids that play smart and play together. (Plumlee) is exactly that.”
Plumlee never averaged more than 6.6 points per game while at Duke, but what he did was do all of the “dirty work” things that helped the Blue Devils win 115 games over four seasons.
The Warsaw resident grabbed over seven rebounds per game last season, including a career-best 22 against Maryland. The Blue Devils didn't lack superstars, so Plumlee made it his job to help those stars get open shots by screening, coming up with loose balls and keeping possessions alive with hustle and toughness.
He wasn't concerned about scoring. At all.
“I definitely can score,” Plumlee said. “But I know that is not what they brought me in here for.”
It is an ironic twist that the specific aspects of Plumlee's game that impressed former Indiana team president Larry Bird were exactly why the Pacer fans are so disenchanted with the club selecting Plumlee with the 26th overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft.
Plumlee wasn't asked to score for Duke in order for it to be successful and that sacrifice – and his athleticism that “graded off of the charts,” according to Pritchard – was what drew Indiana scouts to Duke games all winter.
“What I did at Duke isn't indicative of who I am as a player entirely,” Plumlee said. “I've got more to offer and I'm excited to show Indiana what I can do.”
Bird was impressed with Plumlee's intangibles that he demonstrated over four seasons with the Blue Devils. But in many regards, Plumlee's stock rose in a lot of scouts' eyes not during the actual basketball seasons, but during the draft process. It was during workouts leading up to the draft that Plumlee was able to exhibit his mobility and leaping ability more effectively than in actual games.
“(The workouts) really solidified who I am as a player and how I see myself as a player,” Plumlee said. “There are things that I know that I can do. This (draft) process has been great for me because I've been able to show all of the teams.”
Plumlee's self-confidence, as well as that self-analysis made an impression on Pritchard and the rest of the Pacer leadership. Plumlee knows that he is capable of producing at the offensive end, but it isn't going to be to the detriment of those skills that got him to the first round of Thursday's draft.
“This is something that is overlooked all of the time,” Pritchard explained, “(Plumlee) knows who he is. I think that he knows where his bread is buttered. It's being physical on defense, it's toughness, it's blocking shots, (and) it's taking charges.”