2016-17 Season in Review | Miles Plumlee
By Sam Perley, hornets.com
2016-17 Review | Miles Plumlee
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A midseason injury to Cody Zeller helped catalyze an early-February trade that brought center Miles Plumlee to the Charlotte Hornets for the remainder of the 2016-17 NBA campaign. Although his first season with the organization didn’t unfold as planned, Plumlee’s skill set and experience could very much provide the Hornets with a valuable big man off the bench for years to come.
Plumlee Returns to North Carolina
After averaging 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 32 appearances with the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season, Plumlee was acquired by the Hornets on Feb. 2 in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert. The trade triggered a bit of a homecoming for Plumlee, who attended high school at Christ School in Arden, NC and Duke University from 2008-12.
“I know I can bring what [the Hornets] want,” said Plumlee after his Charlotte home debut on Feb. 7. “My athleticism, playing hard, playing out of the pick-and-roll, putting pressure on the defense and then being versatile on defense. Helping teammates, rim protection, that kind of thing.”
Sidelined by Injury
Plumlee averaged 3.2 points on 72.7 percent shooting and 4.0 rebounds in 13.4 minutes across his first five outings for the Hornets. This stretch included a season-high eight rebounds to go along with four points and two blocks in the team’s 105-98 road loss to the Utah Jazz on Feb. 4.
Shortly before the start of the NBA All-Star Break, Plumlee suffered a strained right calf, which ultimately confined him to the bench for the next 19 games. It was a frustrating turn of events for the Hornets center following a trade that had provided him with a fresh opportunity and a needed change of scenery.
“It [was] difficult. In the NBA, we don’t get a ton of practice time, especially at that point of the year,” recalled Plumlee during player exit interviews on April 12. I did my best, but it’s difficult [and] somewhat disappointing knowing you’re not living up to your potential.”
The fifth-year veteran returned to the floor on March 29 against the Toronto Raptors and went on to post averages of 1.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes over the team’s final eight games of the year.
In 13 appearances with the Hornets, Plumlee racked up averages of 2.4 points on 58.3 percent shooting and 3.2 rebounds in 13.4 minutes. Counting his time with Milwaukee, Plumlee recorded 2.5 points on 47.8 percent shooting and 2.1 rebounds in 10.8 minutes of action over 45 total outings this season.
2017-18 Season Outlook
Plumlee has a guaranteed deal that runs through the 2019-20 NBA season. After undergoing successful arthroscopic debridement surgery on his right knee on May 2, Plumlee is eager to get back on the court as soon as possible.
“I’m extremely motivated. This summer’s huge. I plan on working really hard. “[It’s] disappointing. It’s tough to come in [through] a midseason trade, through injuries, get in a groove and build chemistry. I did my best to just fit and play hard. I think having a summer to work with the guys, work with the team will really be beneficial and show them what I can do next year.”
He added with regards to his summer plans, “I’m going to be around working with the guys. I love the strength coach here, [Matt Friia]. [Hornets assistant coach] Bruce [Kreutzer] is phenomenal with the shooting aspect of the game. I’m really excited to put in some work with him. I think he could be the last piece of the puzzle for me. I was a great shooter in high school and it kind of got away from me. I really think he can help add that element to my game.”
“We felt Miles [Plumlee] could help us and give us a physical presence as well as some athleticism on the front line,” stated Hornets General Manger Rich Cho on April 13. “It’s a big summer for him we told him in the exit interview yesterday. I think he’ll be able to help us once he’s healthy.”