The bell has rung and the Blue Zone stock exchange is back in business. Each week The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the Duke basketball world.
Bull Market—Trending Up
- Marshall Plumlee: Marshall Plumlee is all the rage these days. The 7-foot redshirt sophomore has strung together back-to-back impressive performances on the glass and on defense. Against Florida State Plumlee collected career-highs in points and rebounds with seven of each. All seven of the boards came on the offensive end. He followed that up with four bounds and a block against No. 18 Pittsburgh on the road. But let's just forget all of that for argument's sake. Plumlee earned his spot here because he knocked down not one, not two, but three free throws against Florida State. After starting his Duke career an atrocious 0-for-16 from the not-so-charitable stripe, Plumlee buried three in a row against the Seminoles. The career 15.8 percent free throw shooter still has a ways to go to catch up to Mason's career 58.3 percent mark.
Andre Dawkins: Dawkins was trending down last week because he was shooting a paltry 29.6 percent of his 3-pointers in conference play. I don't know whether 'Dre read this piece or found motivation elsewhere, but he ratcheted his game up to a new level this week—draining nine of his 13 3-point attempts. Dawkins is red-hot as he takes his talents to the Carrier Dome for the showdown every basketball fan has circled on his calendar. For the season, Dawkins is now at 47.5 percent from beyond the arc—easily a career-high.
Mason Plumlee: Yes, another Plumlee trending up. Mason was selected Wednesday night to participate in the 2014 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. The middle Plumlee is having an up-and-down season for the suddenly torrid Brooklyn Nets, averaging 5.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 15.2 minutes. However, Plumlee has been a DNP-CD in each of the last three games and has seen more than 10 minutes of action in a game just twice in January, with the last time coming on the 11th. It's a nice honor for Plumlee, but even in a weak rookie class there may have been more deserving players. It's worth noting that picks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 were all left off the list of players chosen.
NBA Assistant Coaches: Yes, I'm going for the Plumlee trifecta here. It is the assistant coaches who select the participants for the Rising Stars Challenge, and it is the assistant coaches who inexplicably left Miles Plumlee off of the roster. Although the likes of Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard—all of whom are generating buzz for an All-Star spot—are obviously deserving, there are some questionable names. Terrence Jones is averaging 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Houston Rockets, Jared Sullinger is at 12.8 and 7.8 with Boston, Jonas Valanciunas 10.4 and 8.7 for Toronto, and Harrison Barnes just 10.1 and 3.9. Plumlee himself is averaging 9.7 points and 8.6 rebounds to go with his 1.5 blocks. His numbers are very similar to these other names, but there are a few differences. Sullinger plays for an absolutely abysmal team, Barnes has regressed from his rookie season, and Valanciunas is averaging less than one block despite his status as a starting center. Oh, and Plumlee is playing for the best feel-good story of the year in the Phoenix Suns, who are defying all odds with their 27-18 record. Bottom line is that Miles should be taking his talents to New Orleans for All-Star Weekend.
Josh Hairston: The one-time starter has quietly seen his minutes slashed in recent games. It started with Semi Ojeleye stealing some of Hairston's time in Mike Krzyzewski's 5-for-5 substitutions, and now Marshall Plumlee has usurped many of Hairston's backup big minutes. The senior captain has played more than 10 minutes just once in the month of January, and in Duke's signature win against No. 18 Pittsburgh he saw just four minutes—tied for his season-low. With Plumlee, Jefferson and pretty much everybody else proving to be better rebounders than Hairston—he's averaging an astonishingly low 1.6 rebounds per game in 11.7 minutes—there is no reason to expect a sudden uptick in minutes for the Fredericksburg, Va. native.
Julius Randle: Randle was touted in the beginning of the season as one of the top freshmen in the nation, and though he has solid stats on the season—16.1 points and 10.2 rebounds ain't too shabby—his stock has been slipping league-wide. In NBA circles Indiana's Noah Vonleh has gained steam as the best power forward in the draft, replacing Randle. Amidst the negativity surrounding his draft stock, Randle put up an absolute stinker in No. 11 Kentucky's loss to LSU this week, scoring six points on 3-of-11 shooting with just five rebounds. Randle easily has as much talent as almost anyone in the NCAA, but with the Wildcats faltering and Randle performing like he did against the Tigers, he may be headed for a rude surprise on draft night.
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