The Big Answer?: Jason Maxiell

DF then: Can he really be a reliable backup center?

At just 6-foot-7, Jason Maxiell was the Pistons’ most reliable backup center last year. Maxiell hadn’t held a defined role in years, but when pressed into a set spot, even one that doesn’t appear to naturally suit him, he thrived. Did the Pistons stumble onto something? Do Maxiell’s long arms, strong lower body and impressive hops negate his height mismatch against backup fives? If so, Greg Monroe might not be pressed into duty right away.

DF now: I don’t know

Although Maxiell played about half his minutes at center this season, he still played just 930 total – the fewest since his rookie year. And the most regular minutes he received came when he started at power forward early in the season. The Pistons never really committed to him as a backup center.

Using lineup data from BasketballValue, Maxiell played 52 percent of his minutes without Greg Monroe or Ben Wallace on the court and 50 percent without either those two or Chris Wilcox, who sometimes played the five with Maxiell at the four. 82games has Maxiell playing about 45 percent of his minutes at power forward.

But in that limited time, the results were encouraging. His net PER at center was –5.7, as opposed to –17.6 at power forward, according to 82games. His offensive rating without Wallace and Monroe on the floor was 108 and otherwise, 104. His defensive rating remained 113.

I wouldn’t call this a large enough sample size to prove anything, but I’d still like to see Maxiell’s primary position next season – whether it’s second- or third-string – become center.

PH then: Have the Pistons finally figured out how to use him?

Maxiell has had an up and down career with the Pistons. He’s been in and out of the rotation. At times, he’s played well and hasn’t been rewarded with more minutes. At times, he’s played poorly and been left in the game. Last year, he was given his first extended opportunity to start, with mixed results. What we know is this: Maxiell is no worse than the Pistons third best big man (not counting Jerebko) and, if healthy, will be a rotation player all season.

PH now: No

Maxiell was a no-show in the rotation most of the season. Consequently, when he did play, he often looked out of shape from not seeing game action this season. It has been a couple years now since Maxiell was a productive, consistent member of the rotation. I really have no idea where he’s at as far as being able to play a role on this or any team. His production has declined for three straight seasons.

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