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Phoenix Suns: Miles Plumee Goes From Throw-In to Star in Opening-Night Victory

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Raise your hand if you saw the Miles Plumlee acquisition as anything more than a throw-in, or a future project at best. Now be ashamed of yourself for fibbing. Nobody saw the 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks coming.

Plumlee, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe starred for the new-look Phoenix Suns in their 104-91 opening-night victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. Dragic and Bledsoe combined for 48 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists, but the big story was Plumlee.

Let's not forget that Plumlee scored 13 points last season -- in total. Needless to say, he set career highs in minutes (40), points (18), rebounds (15) and blocks (3). We do have to consider the competition in Robin Lopez, but that still shouldn't tarnish what was a terrific Suns debut for Plumlee.

Head coach Jeff Hornacek had a lot of praise for Plumlee during the postgame press conference. After being asked about Plumlee's arsenal of left and right-handed hook shots, he talked about the first time he saw Plumlee.

"When we first saw him (Plumlee) in the gym, we thought he'd get us some rebounds and not much else," Hornacek said, with a smile. "But, he worked really hard with Mark West and the coaching staff and has really improved."

Improved, indeed. With Marcin Gortat gone, Plumlee got his chance and made the most of it. It was fitting that he was facing off against a former Suns player in Robin Lopez.

Suns fans remember what Robin Lopez brought to the team (very little), which made Plumlee's game that much more enjoyable. During introductions, the home fans reminded Lopez how much they missed him with a resounding boo.

Plumlee played like the anti-Lopez. On this night, he was fluid, athletic and confident. After the game, with about 25 media members surrounding him in the locker room, Plumlee beamed while talking about his big game.

"This is what you work for. Moments like this. I just have to continue to go out and work as hard as I can to get better," Plumlee quipped. "I didn't get much opportunity last year and didn't know if I would get much this year, so I figured I better make the most of it."

Since it's the season for overreactions, we'll scale it back a bit and avoid calling Plumlee the next All-NBA first team center. However, if he can continue to rebound and alter shots at the rim, both Hornacek and Plumlee will be smiling from ear-to-ear all season long.

Note: Quotes obtained firsthand.

Michael Dunlap covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of

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