In Duke’s win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Mason Plumlee put up 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while playing all 40 minutes. That’s excellent production and exactly the kind of statistics you would expect to see out of your star big man. What you might not expect to see is that Plumlee also tallied three steals and a couple assists. In fact, the 6’10” Plumlee managed to tie starting point guard Quinn Cook in steals and placed second behind him in assists. That’s an impressive demonstration of Plumlee’s versatility, but it’s also a huge boon for his team.
Generally, folks underrate the importance of steals, but with a moment of consideration it’s easy to see why they are so important. Like the obviously important offensive rebound, a steal gives you an opportunity for a shot you wouldn’t normally have, and like an opponent’s unforced turnover, it ends your opponent’s possession without a shot. Steals are very valuable to a team, and if your guards are wracking up steals at close to the average rate, getting above average production in a category like steals from your forwards and centers can lead to a team gaining a big advantage. When the biggest guy on your team can earn your squad extra possessions? It’s nothing but a good thing. So who in the ACC contributes in these unusual categories?