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Nets' Mason Plumlee ready for shot at starting center

Nets forward Mason Plumlee (1) struggles to hold

Nets forward Mason Plumlee (1) struggles to hold onto the ball after pulling a rebound as Philadelphia 76ers forward Brandon Davies (0) tries to strip the ball from him in the first half of a game at the Barclays Center, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

If there's a silver lining stemming from Brook Lopez's recent foot injury, look no further than the turboboost in Mason Plumlee's time on the court.

Plumlee knows it's necessary for him to expand his game in a variety of ways, ranging from better rebounding technique to developing his offensive repertoire. Lopez's extended absence has given him more minutes in games and practices to work on things. Refining his shooting form has been a focus.

He's looking for the chance to unleash a jumper over some unsuspecting defender.

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"They leave me open 15 feet and in, I'm taking the shot," Plumlee said Sunday. "In preseason, I didn't get many. But hey, they will be there, and a lot of that, too, is just figuring out the offense and when to find guys -- what passes I'm looking for. But it'll be there."

Maybe so, but there could be someone delivering special instructions not long after the 6-11 second-year pro fires one from the perimeter.

"I'd rather for him to never shoot a jump shot," coach Lionel Hollins said. "I want him to be more comfortable in the post making moves. He has good footwork, he's quick, jumps well and has a nice jump hook with his right and left hand. I'd like him just to be more confident in going to that and making that his basic go-to move."

Lopez's right foot sprain again kept him from practicing Sunday. Hollins, who has said he believes Lopez will be available for Wednesday night's season opener against the Celtics, didn't have an update on Lopez before the team's open session for fans at Barclays Center. If Lopez is not cleared to play, Plumlee will slide into Lopez's starting spot at center alongside Kevin Garnett at power forward.

It's just another reason why building on the 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds Plumlee averaged as a rookie is critical to any kind of sustained success for the Nets.

Plumlee has talked about wanting to be more than just a slasher and a dunker. Hollins said mastering some of the traditional moves of a big man should be uppermost in his mind.

"If he's 6-11 and we can't throw the ball to you in the post, what's the point of being on the court?" Hollins said. "As a basketball player, you should want to improve your skill level."

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