Mason Plumlee has always been a skilled big man, and when he needs to he’s more than capable of picking a pass. In fact, his facilitation skills so impressed former teammate Damian Lillard that ahead of the 2016 season, the Trail Blazers guard compared him with Draymond Green and said he could see Plumlee getting “a bunch” of triple-doubles.
Well, the triple-double never arrived that season in Portland, and until Sunday night it hadn’t arrived at all. But finally, a few years and a few teams later, Plumlee’s triple-double odyssey has come to an end. In the Pistons’ 123-112 win over the Pelicans, Plumlee finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double. At 30 years and 346 days, Plumlee became the oldest player to record his first triple-double since Patrick Ewing got one at age 33 back in 1996.
The really impressive thing is that this wasn’t some sort of cheap triple-double where Plumlee racked up “assists” by executing dribble hand-offs or throwing simple swing passes to open shooters. He was making smart reads in the pick-and-roll and carving up the Pelicans with pinpoint finds to backdoor cutters.
Check out Plumlee’s reaction in the third clip there. Both hands raised the second he makes the pass, then another double fist pump. Doing the “Steph Curry celebrating while the shot’s still in the air” celebration but for beating a team with another backdoor cut just absolutely rocks.
Because of some injuries in the Pistons’ frontcourt, Plumlee has had to take on a bigger role and he’s become something of an assist machine in the process. He’s averaging 7.6 assists over his past three games, and for the season is now up to 3.4 assists per game — his most since 2017. Among players standing 6-foot-10 or taller, only six are dishing out more assists than Plumlee.
It’s been a tough season for the Pistons, and they sit second-to-last in the Eastern Conference at 8-19. But with wins in three of their past four games, and Plumlee’s triple-double there have finally been some good times to enjoy in Detroit.