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Jason Maxiell is having a great season, and Andre Drummond is still out-producing him

I think, based on crowd-sourced opinions in the comments here, on other Pistons sites and on Twitter, it’s pretty safe to assume that Pistons fans are pretty much in lock-step about their desire to see more of Andre Drummond. Something that gets lost in that often loud demand, however, is the fact that Jason Maxiell, the player whose minutes Drummond would cut into, is actually having a really good season by his standards.

I think it’s important to note that Maxiell has played well. But, in my column for the Detroit Free Press today, I also pointed out that even with Maxiell having arguably his best season if he keeps this pace up, Drummond is still significantly out-producing him on a per-minute basis:

Drummond’s stats won’t compare with Maxiell’s, simply because there is a significant discrepancy in minutes played. But their averages per 36 minutes paint a different picture:

  • Points per 36 minutes: Drummond 15.4, Maxiell 12.9
  • Rebounds per 36 minutes: Drummond 11.4, Maxiell 9.0
  • Blocks per 36 minutes: Drummond 2.4, Maxiell 2.0
  • Steals per 36 minutes: Drummond 1.9, Maxiell 0.2

Maxiell is shooting 54%. Drummond is shooting 68%. Looking at some advanced stats, via Basketball Reference, Maxiell’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 15.7, Drummond’s is 23.8. Maxiell’s total rebound percentage (estimate of percentage of total available rebounds grabbed while the player was on the floor) is 14.2, Drummond’s is 18.0. Drummond has a better offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) and better defensive rating (points given up per 100 possessions) than Maxiell.

The Pistons, understandably given the concerns about him coming out of college, have taken a cautious approach with Drummond. But he’s clearly, by every statistical measure, shown that he’s more advanced on the court than virtually anyone thought he would be. The longer the Pistons go without increasing Drummond’s workload in the face of his immense per-minute production, the more it is going to appear that they are holding him back rather than helping his development.


  • Nov 16, 201211:41 am
    by israelipiston


    Playing Maxiell is super short sited and a waste of resources. We will be just as good with Drummond and he will get real experience that will make him better much faster. We know what jason can and cannot do – it is time to find out the same with Drumond.

  • Nov 16, 201211:50 am
    by Crispus


    It’s alright as long as we are Getting Maxiell some swag to trade him. Hopefully for a pick so we can open up PT for guys we want to see.

    • Nov 16, 201212:23 pm
      by Desolation Row


      I agree, he needs to be traded and hopefully they are just raising his value now so they can trade him and play more Drummond later. 

  • Nov 16, 201211:55 am
    by danny


    do you guys not understand that drummond does not know the game too well.  if he is smart he is paying attention at all times on the bench.  give it some time my god it is a long season.

    • Nov 16, 201212:56 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “do you guys not understand that drummond does not know the game too well.”

      And yet he’s still been incredibly productive. So why not test him to see if that production holds up in slightly bigger minutes?


  • Nov 16, 201212:17 pm
    by Chris


    Don’t be simple minded and think you know better than Dumars and Frank.  They know what they are doing.  And I agree with their thinking.
    He is 19 years old, make sure you develop him to be the best player possible long term.  
    Don’t throw him out there and scar him with failure.   

    • Nov 16, 201212:21 pm
      by Desolation Row


      Hahahahahaahahahaha really???? Dumars knows what he is doing? Really??? 

      Have you not been tuned in the past 3 seasons? I think he’s done enough to at least question whether or not he knows what he is doing without being dismissed as “simple-minded”. 

      • Nov 16, 20126:04 pm
        by michael


        Or has he not been tuned in since 2003 when Dumars drafted Darko M ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, then went thru 8 coaches in 10 years, traded Chauncey Billup for a huge loser, signed Richard Hamilton to an extension then released him and is still paying him.. signed Ben Gorden and Charlie V for $115 Million, traded Ben Gordon and had to give up a first round pick to get rid of him, with Charlie V still at the end of the bench at $8 Million per year. then extended Rodney Stuckey’s and a washed up Tayshaun Prince’s contracts.  If he worked for the enemy, I would agree Dumars knows what he’s doing…

    • Nov 16, 201212:54 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “Don’t throw him out there and scar him with failure.”

      Every time they’ve ‘thrown him out there,’ he’s statistically been successful. Shouldn’t that merit them trusting him and ‘throwing him out there’ a little more to see if he handles it?

    • Nov 16, 20121:41 pm
      by tarsier


      How pathetic do you think Drummond is that if he experienced some failure, he would be irrecoverably damaged?

      • Nov 16, 20122:56 pm
        by Patrick Hayes


        Yeah, this is a really important point here. They are seriously treating this guy like he’s 8-years-old or something. And maybe behind closed doors, he is. If so, then I get the snail’s pace approach. But by his public comments and his on-court performance, it doesn’t back that up. He’s a physically mature 19-year-old who seems to be even-keeled and handling being a NBA player. There has been nothing so far that makes me understand why they have to walk on egg shells with him. He’s young, sure, but plenty of young people who are semi-mature have been just fine in the NBA spotlight. I don’t get why they seem to believe Drummond is so different.

    • Nov 16, 20123:13 pm
      by Vic


      0-8 before they were forced to make a change. If they knew what they were doing, then they were tanking. I was sounding the alarm on this stupidity as soon as after the first game, until I realized that they might be tanking for a draft pick, and that’s their prerogative. If they think a high draft pick next year is more valuable than fans this year, that’s okay.

      But now it looks like the cats out of the bag. They are starting Singler, and everybody is calling for them to play drummond more. Maybe they really do want to win.

      • Nov 16, 20126:09 pm
        by michael


        I agree it was tanking, and trying to show value for JMax, Jerebko, Prince and Bynum at least.  All four and Charlie V won’t be around long, if they get anything in trade is questionable and will be like pulling a basketball of of JoeD’s…

  • Nov 16, 201212:22 pm
    by Tom Y.


    That’s a really nice comparison. It’s funny how when I look at just Maxiell’s numbers they look really impressive – I guess because he’s a shorter and more limited player and I can “see” the effort behind those numbers.

    I do think that with Frank’s approach, to some extant effort is actually more important than actual production, which is why it will be hard for him to sit Max. He preaches effort all the time and Max has been epitomizing it so far.

    I’m actually ok with Dre not starting yet, but I do want to see him get more minutes, especially with Monroe on the court.   

    • Nov 16, 201212:59 pm
      by frankie d


      agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.  in fact, i think it is better for drummond that he not start for about the first quarter or third of the season.  there is less pressure on him when he comes off the bench, he can come in with the express goal of having a real impact, and it also gives him a chance to play minutes against the other team’s second tier players, which has to help his confidence. 
      however, he does need to play heavier minutes -20-30 minutes every night, absent foul trouble – and that will require a bit of rotation juggling so that frank can make sure most of those minutes are with monroe.
      i like max and think he is a serviceable rotation player.  but he is what he is: a physically limited player who will be overmatched often.  here is hoping that dumars changes his pattern and actually trades max while he is at his peak value for a first rounder.  it becomes a win/win for detroit.  minutes open up for drummond and JJ and maybe even CV or daye, and detroit gets a valuable asset.  there is no downside to moving max.  unfortunately, dumars’ typical move in these situations is to stand pat and either resign his guy or let him walk.  what a waste!

      • Nov 16, 20122:55 pm
        by tarsier


        I’ve been impressed with Max. He may actually have some value now (at the beginning of the season, I maintain he was just an expiring contract).

        The question is who do you send him to? The teams I can see having the most use for a Maxiell sort of player are Denver, San Antonio, Philly, and LAL.

        Who would Denver send back? Brewer? Mozgov? In either case, they wouldn’t throw in more than a second rounder. Or maybe Koufos and a first rounder (though I don’t know if they’d do that) but then Detroit has two more years of Koufos on the books after this one.

        Who would San Antonio send back? I doubt they’d be willing to give up Splitter. So that means Green (more valuable to SA than DET), Bonner, or Diaw. Would you take an extra year of Bonner/Diaw on the payroll for a pick in the 25-30 range?

        Who would Philly send back? The only good option is Dorell Wright. That would be pretty cool, actually. I’m not sold on Wright but he is an intriguing piece who could be a part of the future.

        From the Lakers, the return would probably be Duhon plus trade filler to make salaries work (the Lakers have a lot of one year contracts in the half a million to one million dollar range). Whether their pick is worth having Duhon on the books next year at $3.5M is debatable. But Dumars set his standard of ~$12M of payroll relief is worth around about a 15th pick.

        • Nov 16, 20125:21 pm
          by frankie d


          the going rate for a vet like maxiell is probably a mid to late first round draft choice.  and his value may be elevated because he has an expiring contract.  i’m not sure which teams actually have that kind of choice in the near future, but i’d be willing to take a lottery-protected first rounder a few years in the future on the odd chance that a flukey bad year by a team like the lakers or SA or the clippers or dallas or whomever might net the pistons a fairly high choice down the line.  remember, detroit got the darko pick on exactly that type of trade when they moved otis thorpe for a pick several years in the future.  
          i’d just like to see joe d parlay a nice asset into some kind of value instead of just sitting on it and letting it walk away for nothing but cap space.
          and if i’m the pistons, i do not want a player in return.  only draft picks, as one of the benefits of moving maxiell is clearing the roster so that young guys already here can play. 

  • Nov 16, 20122:29 pm
    by tom


    Seems to me that Drummond’s usage is about right. I think you have to consider 2 key factors:
    1. You want the kid to know that he has to earn every minute he gets on the court. He has to practice hard, he has to learn and he has to improve, only then does he get playing time – make him hungry.
    2. It’s a long season. How many time do you hear about rookies hitting the wall and really regressing in the second half. Hopefully a gradually increasing load will prevent that from happening so he can continue making progress throughout the whole year.

    • Nov 16, 20122:53 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “You want the kid to know that he has to earn every minute he gets on the court.”

      Shouldn’t being more productive than others playing way more minutes be a huge part of ‘earning every minute’ though?

      “He has to practice hard, he has to learn and he has to improve, only then does he get playing time – make him hungry.”

      Certainly. And if he doesn’t have good practice habits or off-court work habits, then I have no problem with that limiting what he gets in games some. But to this point, there have been no reports that Drummond is lazy or has a poor attitude or anything like that. In fact, everything about his work ethic has been glowing. So either those reports are inaccurate, or Drummond is already doing exactly what you say he should be doing and just not getting rewarded for it.

      “How many time do you hear about rookies hitting the wall and really regressing in the second half. Hopefully a gradually increasing load will prevent that from happening so he can continue making progress throughout the whole year.”

      That’s irrelevant. He’s been productive and, according to the team, he’s been hard-working, and they’re still not increasing his workload. What message are you sending if he’s doing those things and you are not rewarding with more minutes? If Drummond is living up to his end of things, and statistically he definitely is and work-ethic wise the organization is saying he is, then the front office and coaching staff have to live up to theirs and reward that. Otherwise, what incentive is there to continue that work?

      • Nov 16, 20122:58 pm
        by MIKEYDE248


        I agree with you completely.  They way I look at it is if Maxiell were on any other team, he would be a 6th man at best.  It would probably work out well with him coming off the bench with Stuckey, that way at least we know they will have one energy guy out there.

      • Nov 16, 20123:06 pm
        by revken


        I don’t think the problem is Maxiell, because he’s only playing 25 minutes a game.  That easily leaves 23 minutes for Drummond, which is more than he’s played so far.  The problem is that Drummond is backing up Monroe at center, which will always limit his minutes.  Not sure how they need to adjust their rotations and roles at PF/C, but I’d like to see Andre backing up Maxiell for the time being.  That would give him more playing time and, if his production per minute continues to hold steady or improve, then playing him even more minutes becomes an obvious choice.  While Drummond’s production is better, I’m sure there are lots of intangibles that Maxiell is better at. But they’re both the same kind of player in what they bring to the line-up, so it would be good to always have one of them in the game.

  • Nov 16, 20123:16 pm
    by Vic


    I don’t mind Max starting, even though he’s always been good and short bursts off the bench. But I do want drummond to play at least 25 minutes a game, that’s how they’re going to start winning the majority of the games.

  • Nov 16, 20125:18 pm
    by Aruna


    I don’t think it’s exactly fair to compare the two like that.  Maxiell has a much longer leash, so her per minute numbers are likely to be worse for that fact.  When Drummond is playing well he gets to play longer, therefore he logs more minutes when he’s putting up stats.  On the other side Max will log more minutes when he’s not putting up numbers because he is allowed to play through bad stretches since Frank trusts him to respond appropriately to it.  Then there’s the whole idea that Max is playing against starters while Drummond plays against reserves.

    Maybe the takeaway from this is still that we need to play Drummond more because he is playing well (I certainly want to see it), but I don’t think you can realistically compare per-36 minute stats and say that’s a reasonable evaluation of the two. The context of those minutes are just too different.

    • Nov 16, 20125:40 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      It’s not a straight comparison. It’s just questioning what, exactly, the bar is for Drummond to earn more minutes? By the only statistical measures available — and I never said per-36 was perfect — Drummond is playing very productive minutes, more productive than the starter, in fact. So if the bar for him playing more is him playing well, how has he not met or exceeded that bar yet? Another rookie — Singler — has been rewarded with more minutes for his strong play in limited minutes. Why hasn’t Drummond?

      • Nov 16, 20126:06 pm
        by Rich


        Especially when you figure that, on a per minute basis, Drummond hasn’t just been decent – he’s been the Pistons best player by that metric…

  • Nov 16, 20126:01 pm
    by Rich


    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned – he’s basically the same age as Knight was last year.  Although he didn’t have the same “raw” label Drummond had, a brief glance at Knight’s college numbers show he was also quite raw – he had below average shooting numbers, didn’t really rack up steals, and had a frankly bad A:TO ratio.  Yet he wasn’t “scarred” by playing early and often.  And PG is considerably harder to play as a rookie that a frontcourt position is.  The logic the Pistons are employing on Drummond doesn’t make any kind of sense when they didn’t use it a year ago, with the same coach and same GM.

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