Jason Maxiell, still useful

I’ve mentioned a few times that, by far, Detroit’s most surprising player this season has been Jason Maxiell, who finally got back in good shape and has shook off two seasons of seeming decline to once again become a viable rotation player. Rob Mahoney of Bleacher Report’s Court Vision blog noticed as well:

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Detroit’s Jason Maxiell looked like a player on the rise. It may have been a bit presumptuous to think that he had the gleam of stardom in his bursts of scoring and rebounding in limited minutes, but there’s little question that Maxiell looked ready to stretch his legs in a larger role.

That role came, but the success very much didn’t; despite the fact that the Pistons have been hurting for quality interior players over the last several seasons, Maxiell could never prove his value beyond 20 minutes a night. The buzz quieted, the ferocious dunks became a bit more infrequent and Maxiell was all but forgotten on a Pistons team with much greater troubles.

Yet even without making any leaps or jumps into particular relevancy, Maxiell still manages to remind us how useful he could be in the right context. In a Tuesday night game against the Orlando Magic, Maxiell was every bit as potent as the Pistons could have reasonably asked him to be. He still played a mere 24 minutes of game action, but within that relatively small sample he brought highly efficient scoring and competitive rebounding, increasing his totals to 15 points and seven boards in no-time flat.

Maxiell isn’t likely to be all that much more productive than he is today, but in an appropriate role he could be a valuable contributor. He’ll likely be a team’s energetic fourth big, but his success from this point on will be guided almost solely by appropriate expectations.

Glad to see Maxiell’s solid season getting noticed outside of Detroit.

Also, a plug for Court Vision. I know some negative perceptions exist about Bleacher Report, but they really have a good team of established writers — Mahoney (ESPN, New York Times, etc.), Holly MacKenzie (SLAM, Basketball Jones), Ethan Sherwood Strauss (ESPN) and Bethlehem Shoals (FreeDarko, GQ, everywhere) — running that blog. They’ve produced some really interesting NBA stuff over the last few weeks. It’s worth a bookmark or subscribing to their RSS feed or whatever it is that kids are doing to follow websites these days.

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