PHOENIX — This time one year ago, Miles Plumlee gained the attention of a first-year general manager, who was just two months into his new job.
Plumlee, then a member of the Indiana Pacers, had just completed a four-game stint in the Orlando Summer League where he averaged 10.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks playing 27.0 minutes.
A couple of weeks later, Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who had always liked the young center out of Duke, pushed for the 6-foot-11, 255-pound Plumlee to be included as part of the trade in exchange for veteran Luis Scola.
“Just didn’t hold anything back,” Plumlee said of his performance last summer in which he ranked second in rebounds and first in blocked shots in Orlando. “I think I showed (McDonough) glimpses of what I could be and just with my athleticism I think I made an impact on all of the games.”
Those glimpses continued on into the regular season, when given consistent court time, Plumlee posted career-highs in points (8.1), rebounds (7.8), blocks (1.13) and field goal percentage (.517, tops on the team) in 80 games, including 79 starts.
Among second-year players, he ranked fourth in rebounds, fifth in blocks and 19th in points; not bad, but really just a glimpse of his potential.
“Make all those glimpses last longer,” Plumlee said of his goal during summer league when asked on Thursday. “Be more consistent. Smarter decision making.”
Assistant Mike Longabardi, who will coach the Suns’ Las Vegas Summer League team, is in agreement with Plumlee.
“Flow, flow, flow, flow. Not over thinking, getting stuck; looking like a player,” he said of Plumlee’s next step in development. “To me, he gets in trouble when he just kind of over thinks and gets stuck. Now, it’s got to be like a rhythm and a flow for him; and hopefully with the repetition of playing (and) playing a lot it’s going to help him.”
As last season wore down, the game, according to Plumlee, started to slow down. His instincts are now carrying him on the court, not his thoughts.
“That’s the biggest thing and it’s felt that way this summer,” he said, “Just not thinking things through, just kind of making reads naturally and then it allows you to think the game more from the team perspective. Who’s open, where people should be cutting, the stuff that’s more important than what move am I’m making.”
Plumlee, who will turn 26 in September, has used this offseason and this week’s three days of two-a-days to continue to improve both his footwork defensively, which has always been above average, and offensively, where the plan is to comfortable and confident taking the 17-foot jump shot.
“My hand placement is much better. My shot, when I’m doing it right, is feeling really, really good, so I just got to make that better every day,” he said.
The Suns play their first summer league game against Golden State on Saturday.
This will be Plumlee’s third summer league tour, making him the veteran of the 12-man group.
“We got a young team and I know people have a lot of questions,” he said. “You know I may have only really gotten to play one whole year, but summer league is something I think I’ve done pretty well, twice. I know what it’s going to be like. We got some really smart guys we drafted, so I think they’re going to pick it up real quick.”