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Jason Maxiell comes in at No. 239 in the ESPN #NBARank

Surprisingly, Jason Maxiell made it all the way to No. 239 in ESPN’s rankings of the top 500 current NBA players and incoming rookies. The surprise, for me at least, is that Maxiell finished where he did yet Chris Wilcox, a much better player last season, finished nearly 100 spots lower at No. 330.

I believe Maxiell’s ranking is mainly a product of people remembering his highlight reel plays and energy he became known for a few years ago and not realizing that statistically, his production has fallen off a cliff over the last two seasons. James Herbert at Hardwood Paroxysm recently discussed the Maxiell phenomenon:

Go to YouTube and type in his name. You’ll love him.

K, now go to Basketball-Reference. Same thing. Yeah, see that 2010-2011 season? Do you still love Jason Maxiell? He’s the worst.

You can and should still love Maxiell’s dunks and blocks, but let’s be realistic about his prospects as a rotation player. Aside from highlights plays, screen-setting, and baby-eating, you’re not getting anything from him. He could never shoot, pass, or dribble. He’s regressed in a big way on the boards. Last year was the third straight season that his production has dropped and this time he found himself out of the rotation for long stretches. It’s sad when the undersized overachiever stops overachieving.

Maxiell earned his spot in a NBA rotation because, despite being undersized, he had amazing athleticism which allowed him to rebound well, block some shots and finish strong around the basket. But guys whose games are predicated on athleticism don’t always have a long shelf life. Maxiell got a little older. He got a little heavier (hey, it happens to the best of us as we age). And his other basketball skills, as Herbert pointed out, just didn’t develop enough for him to add new wrinkles to his game as he aged.

Like many Pistons who have big contracts and who have underperformed, I still maintain hope that Maxiell can get back to his old form. But unfortunately, based on his last two seasons, he’s ranked much too high in the ESPN rankings.

Other Pistons unveiled in the rankings are: Brandon Knight (267), Chris Wilcox (330), Kyle Singler (446), Terrico White (472) and Vernon Macklin (498).

If you’re on Twitter, feel free to follow along. The @NBAonESPN account is unveiling the names and picking the best comments that use the #NBARank hashtag for retweets and also featuring some on ESPN.com.


  • Sep 8, 201111:56 am
    by Laser


    i still think, as with mot current pistons, he could contribute to a good team. he’d be a hell of a fourth big on a team like the lakers or celtics. the celtics tried to get him from us a summer or two ago, and i think he would have been a good get for them. plus, five million a year isn’t that much for a rotation caliber big man on a contending team (considering he’d be about 5% of the lakers’ payroll, more or less). but on this team, the entire front line is a mess and we just don’t have the personnel to play ahead of him.
    if we had three solid bigs capable of 25-30 minutes of consistent, solid production on both ends, max would be a nice change-of-pace energy guy to bring in for 15 minutes a game. but when the pecking order is so ill-defined and the talent is so thin, there’s no room for him. you can’t sensibly play five big men, and there’s just not enough talent ahead of him to play him in the right role. instead, you’ve just got to mix-and-match four other guys for 20-some minutes apiece.

    • Sep 8, 201112:12 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      The problem with Maxiell is the rebounding. I get with some of the offensive-minded players that coaching/role/etc. could impact their production. But Maxiell, in Kuester’s first year was given a prolonged opportunity as a starter and actually played worse as a starter than a reserve.

      The issue for him is rebounding. His rebound rate dropped from 15.7 to 11.4. That’s a huge, significant drop. And it’s not like the Gordon/Hamilton excuse of “neither guy could get comfortable with inconsistent minutes” thing works with Maxiell. He’s always played inconsistent minutes in his career, always had a poorly defined role, but he’s still produced at a high level based on per-minute and advanced stats. He’s 28 now, he’s heavier than he used to be and he hasn’t added much to his game. If he’s not rebounding, there’s no reason to have him on the court, and good teams will know that and be leery of trading for him.

      • Sep 8, 201112:26 pm
        by tarsier


        But at least he will be off the books soon. Now he is basically just a mid-sized contract to be added to or removed from deals to make salaries work.

        • Sep 8, 201112:55 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Yeah, he’s overpaid, but his deal isn’t horrible. I just would be shocked if he’s in a good team’s rotation again.

        • Sep 8, 20112:36 pm
          by Laser


          your assumption that he’ll be off the books “soon” is vague and baseless. personally, i think he’s probably rather movable, but right now he’s on the books for two more seasons until he isn’t.

          • Sep 11, 201112:07 pm
            by tarsier

            By soon, I meant before the majority of Detroit’s bad contracts. And until most of them are gone, the Pistons are financially handicapped anyway. So two years is relatively “soon.”

      • Sep 8, 20112:47 pm
        by Laser


        @hayes: i’m with you to an extent. i’m sure you’re right about his rebounding (and with his skill set, not being a capable rebounder is downright inexcusable) but it’s not just about consistent role and minutes with max. he needs a very specific, limited role to be useful. your anecdotal evidence that his extended time as a starter means little to me, because that’s a bad role for him. you can leave him there all year and i’m not going to look too much into it.
        just as with rip and gordon, i’d have to see him in a position to succeed before making any firm judgments about what he can contribute.

  • Sep 11, 20118:40 am
    by Murph


    JMax sucks.  The best we can hope for is that his contract is included in a trade as filler to make the salaries work.

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