Prior to the season, Plumlee appeared destined for the D-League’s Springfield Armor and not guarding Tim Duncan one-on-one.
Lopez’s injury has forced head coach Jason Kidd’s hand, and the rookie coach opted for youth rather than the reliable if not spectacular Reggie Evans. Baptism by fire for the Duke graduate.
And if the Nets play many more games like they did against the Spurs, the fans will get a healthy dose of Plumlee and several other reserves.
The Spurs blitzed the Nets to open the game and never relented, running away with a 113-92 win. The Nets’ only signs of life came from reserves Shaun Livingston and Plumlee. As the clock ticked away, the dejected Nets could merely watch another loss that dropped the Nets to 10-21.
As Kevin Garnett continued to struggle, Plumlee played 38:22. In his time, the rookie scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Livingston added 15 points and five assist off the bench as well.
Many underestimated the early-season need for big men, though. With Garnett dealing with minutes restrictions and scheduled off-days, power forwards and centers become a necessity for this Brooklyn squad. Evans’ offensive deficiencies and Andray Blatche’s absence for personal reasons make Plumlee Kidd’s most viable option.
Lopez’s injury only exacerbates the Nets’ desperation at the position.
Other injuries impacted Plumlee’s role too. Andrei Kirilenko boasts the length to play either the three or the four, but he too has missed considerable time due to back spasms. Kirilenko returned against the Spurs but played only 10:53.
While Plumlee may never develop into the kind of player Lopez is, he does enough well to make him a mainstay on this roster. His energy and athleticism make him a perfect candidate to come off the bench.