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Lawrence Frank says Jason Maxiell starts because he keys defense, but Andre Drummond could better fill role

Why does Jason Maxiell start? The answer has become so difficult to fathom, Lawrence Frank is facing the question even while Andre Drummond is out injured. Frank, via David Mayo of MLive:

"If you’re going to judge Max on his offensive numbers, he’s not going to play a lot," Frank said. "But for us, if you look at our defensive efficiency in the first quarter, it’s sixth-best in the league. So to me, his grit, grime and physical toughness, paired with Greg, is a good fit defensively."

The Pistons have actually improved to fifth in the NBA in first-quarter defensive efficiency, according to NBA.com/stats. If you’re wondering, the Pistons’ defense ranks 11th in the third quarter and 19th overall.

How much credit does Maxiell deserve for the Pistons’ impressive first-quarter defense? Probably a decent amount.

Maxiell plays 9.3 minutes per first quarter, and the Pistons allow fewer first-quarter points per 100 possession with him on the court (97.0) than off (100.4).

As far as defending well with Greg Monroe, the Pistons have a lower defensive rating when Maxiell and Monroe play together (102.4) than overall (103.8).

So, Frank is correct in those regards. But it’s not about just Maxiell.

The Pistons’ first-quarter defensive rating with Andre Drummond (94.3) is better than with Maxiell (97.0), and a Drummond-Monroe combo (100.0) defends better than Maxiell-Monroe (102.4).

As we’ve argued for a long time now, it doesn’t matter much how well Maxiell plays. Even raw and still learning, Drummond is already better.

Neither Charlie Villanueva nor Jonas Jerebko can really challenge Maxiell’s defensive bona fides in the first quarter and with Monroe, but that’s not a huge concern. Until Drummond returns, I don’t care who starts at power forward.

But – using the criteria Frank said he considers important – Drummond deserves to start once his back heals.


  • Feb 22, 201311:48 am
    by Sean Corp


    Mistake in your article, Dan. DRating on court is correct at 97.0 but DRating off court is 97.8. You accidentally listed Monroe’s DRating off the court.

  • Feb 22, 201312:26 pm
    by deusXango


    I do not, can not, and will not ever believe that Lawrence Frank has the Detroit Pistons best interest at heart…he’s a politician that has another agenda, while he’s playing at being our dedicated coach. With all the effort Joe Dumars put into correcting a lopsided roster, and bringing in some young talented players, Frank refuses to play them. The teams success is only part of the equation; creating fan interest is a vital part also, and fans don’t want to see the same old stale players, and listen to a double talking, rhetoric spewing coach, for the price of a trip to the Palace.

    The numbers referred to about Maxiell’s defensive efficiency included Prince being in the starting lineup also, and now he’s gone. The inescapable fact is, once we saw that Drummond wasn’t as raw as first thought, and the positive effect he had on the game, he should have been inserted into the starting lineup. The whole hope and idea, last summer, was to find someone that would compliment Monroe going forward, ad Maxiell just ain’t him! Bad, bad, coaching decision.   

  • Feb 22, 201312:59 pm


    should have been starting since day one, tired of talking about frank and his lack of awareness as acoach

  • Feb 22, 20131:05 pm
    by Otis


    I could give a damn what Drummond “deserves” at this point. These idiots wasted too much time having both of these guys on the roster without giving them a chance to DEVELOP CHEMISTRY. We can’t possibly go into the summer and try to reshape the roster and turn this disaster around with so many questions hanging above these kids’ heads.

    Is Knight a PG? SG? Combo guard off the bench? Can Monroe slide over to PF? Can Drummond and Monroe play together? It would be a terrible mistake to go into the summer without answers to these questions and slap “UNTOUCHABLE” labels on these guys and build a roster based on speculation only to learn AFTER you’ve retooled the roster that Knight doesn’t really have a position and Monroe and Drummond are two centers who aren’t that good together.

    • Feb 22, 20135:52 pm
      by Big Rick


      Good points Otis.

  • Feb 22, 20131:55 pm
    by Some random guy


    I can understand him starting because of his defense but my question is why does the man get touches…..they should not be passing him the ball 

  • Feb 22, 20132:58 pm
    by Ryank


    The defense drops off when CV and Bynum enter the game.  Max has done a decent job blocking shots in some games this year and he does play a much more physical defense in the paint than Drummond.
    If we could get that smile off Drummond’s face, give him a mouth piece, and tell him not to give up an inch in the post there’d be no reason to play Maxiell at all.  I don’t hear Drummond communicating out there either.  It makes playing good defense a lot easier if a post player is telling teammates how to adjust and when screens are setting.  Drummond can be defensive player of the year within 2-3 seasons if he starts communicating out there.

  • Feb 22, 20134:09 pm
    by danny


    I do not care who starts, I care about the amount of playing time he gets.  It is increasing which is a positive but there are things rooks can learn coming off the bench.  This is why I wanted big ben right next to him all year telling him how to guard the paint and read the offense.

  • Feb 22, 20134:26 pm
    by Franks Must Go


    What do we have to do to get Joe D to replace Franks, picket outside the palace? We already don’y buy tickets because of his decision to not play the player we would pay to see more of. I had more to say, but Otis pretty much said it all. Good job by the readers on the comments…

  • Feb 23, 20135:33 pm
    by T Casey


    Given how poorly Lawrence Frank has done both here and in NJ, can any one of his remaining supporters explain to me why they still believe he’s got the goods to help this team win? Or even to develop the young guys on the team?

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