The Trending Hornets series evaluates the career trajectories of Charlotte’s players based on two advanced stats - Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) - as provided by Basketball Reference.
PER measures per-minute production standardized such as the league average is 15. A PER above 15 means a player contributed above league average. As a frame of reference, among this year’s PER leaders the Top 60 rated somewhere between 17.7 and 31.3.
VORP is a box score estimate of the points per 100 team possessions that a player contributed above a replacement level player. A VORP of 1.2 means the team was 1.2 points better off per 100 possessions with this player on the floor versus a replacement-level player. Among this year’s VORP leaders the Top 60 rated somewhere between 1.6 and 8.6.
This week we will look at the trajectory of new arrival Mason Plumlee.
Career trend overview
Mason Plumlee’s eight year career can be summed up in three words:
Consistently above average.
Just look at the nearly straight horizontal line representing his PER! A mere 2.1 points separates his 16.9 career low PER and his 19.0 career high. That’s a remarkable run of consistency. To put last year’s 18.7 PER in perspective, Plumlee ranked 51st in the NBA among qualified players per Basketball Reference.
His VORP has fluctuated a bit more throughout his career but has been above replacement level every single season. His 1.5 VORP last season ranked 61st in the league among qualifying players.
Plumlee is 31 years old but still has some gas left in the tank. There’s obviously no drop off yet in his PER. He had a bit of a bounce back year last season in terms of VORP by raising his rating from 1.1 to 1.5.
What this means for the Hornets
The Hornets need a solid center who can bring the goods every night, and that’s exactly what they’re getting with Mason Plumlee. He’s a perfect addition to the team and well worth his $9 million salary in each of the next two seasons.
Last year Plumlee was one of only 12 centers (as listed by Basketball Reference) who posted at least an 18.7 PER and 1.5 VORP. The others were Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic, Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Clint Capella, Jonas Valanciunas, Montrezl Harrell, Chris Boucher, and Deandre Ayton. That’s good company for a Hornets center to keep.
Charlotte especially needed a center who can control the glass and Plumlee is only getting better as a rebounder. Last year he not only set a career high with 9.3 rebounds per game, he also set a career high in the advanced metric called Rebound Percentage which is an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabs while on the floor. Plumlee’s Rebound Percentage of 19.3% wasn’t only a career high, it ranked sixth in the entire league. Plumlee finished just behind Deandre Ayton (19.5%) in Rebound Percentage and just above Jarrett Allen (18.9%) and Joel Embiid (18.7%).
Mason Plumlee isn’t sexy, but he’s consistently above average and shows no signs of slowing down.
In other words, he’s exactly what the Hornets need at the center spot.