Back in 1999, a rookie first round pick out of UNLV by the name of Shawn Marion made his Phoenix Suns debut and recorded the first of many double-doubles he would have in box scores over his time in Phoenix.
No player had recorded a double-double in a Suns debut since.
That was until opening night of the Suns’ 2013-14 season.
Miles Plumlee arrived in Phoenix over the off-season along with Gerald Green in a deal that sent Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers. The second-year player out of Duke was only expected to be a back-up to Marcin Gortat at the center position and play some garbage minutes.
But right before the start of the season, Gortat was traded to the Washington Wizards. So days before the start of the regular season, in steps Miles Plumlee as the starter at center on opening night for the Suns 104-91 win over the Portland Trailblazers where he scores 18 points, 15 rebounds and blocks two shots.
“That’s all you can ask for,” said Plumlee after the Suns win. “When you’re nervous, sometimes you might come out and lay an egg but I put this one behind me and nothing after this will be my first game.”
Just about everyone in attendance was shocked by the play of Plumlee in the game. All except for his teammates and coaches. Coach Jeff Hornacek had been raving about the play of Plumlee throughout the preseason and training camp and how he continued to improve every day. Goran Dragic saw glimpses of this as well.
“We know what he can do and what kind of plays he can make,” explained Dragic. “Especially in practice three days ago when he dunked over three people and were were like ‘oh my god!’
“That first week I was real nervous,” mentioned Plumlee when asked about his growth since he first arrived in Phoenix. “New situation, new coaches, didn’t really know anyone I felt like and I guess I didn’t put my best foot forward. But ever since then, each day I have felt like I’ve gotten better.”
Plumlee is coming off a rookie season where he didn’t see much of the court at all with the Pacers. In total last year, he had 13 points and 22 rebounds. He eclipsed his career high in points scored in the opening minutes of the game on Wednesday night.
Eric Bledsoe compared Plumlee’s situation this season and what it means for his career to his own.
“Miles was pretty much like in the same situation,” explained Bledsoe. “He was in Indiana playing behind some great players…Now Miles is getting the chance to play and it’s unbelievable.”
“My mentality coming off the bench is no different when starting,” mentioned Plumlee. “So when I got the starting role, I wanted play with the same mentality of coming out and playing hard with a lot of energy and it paid off.”