Oh, the irony. The Pistons have added the perfect Going to Work small forward replacement five years too late, far beyond his prime. Thanks to injuries and age, Corey Maggette is a shell of his former self, but his poor performance last year might belie his real value today. It's not unreasonable to expect Maggette to bounce back from his year in Charlotte, but don't expect a return to the form of the last decade.
Corey Maggette: 2011-12 Year in Review
15 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, .7 steals, 1.8 turnovers, 37.3% shooting
Maggette only played 32 games last season, and the games he suited up for he played through an ankle injury. It was tragic, since his primary strength is getting to the basket and drawing contact. He still drew contact, heading to the line 6.5 times per game in only 27.5 minutes, but his shooting suffered considerably. It was the worst shooting performance of his career, down considerably from the 52% he shot just two years prior.
The real question for Maggette is how healthy he is today. If his Achilles is entirely rehabbed, he could provide much needed scoring at two positions off the bench. Fortunately for Detroit, the Pistons have the top athletic trainer in the league. If anyone can get the most out of a soon-to-be 33-year-old Corey Maggette, it's Arnie Kander.
Areas of Improvement
Health and durability. That's not something you can really improve, it's only that you can work to prevent injury. If he can buy in to whatever Arnie Kander is selling, and if Lawrence Frank holds him to no more than 20 minutes per game, it's not unreasonable to expect 70 games out of Maggette.
2012-13 Projected Production
Thanks to Maggette's rare gift at drawing contact and getting to the line, he has the capacity to offer more to Detroit in 2012-13 than Tracy McGrady did in 2010-11. The question, however, is to what end? A one-year rental on an aging veteran will not help a team-in-transition in the years ahead. Unless, however, the goal is to prove that he can still be effective to playoff teams that are looking to shed salary and add depth.
If that's the goal, and if he is healthy, what kind of production can fans expect out of Corey Maggette? First, we need to figure out what level of playing time he might find in this roster. The talk from Pistons headquarters is that Maggette might be the primary backup to Tayshaun Prince. He might also see time at shooting guard if Rodney Stuckey and either Kim English or Terrence Williams are having an off night. If our prediction of Tayshaun's playing time holds true, that'd leave 19 minutes for Corey Maggette and Kyle Singler. If Stuckey reaches our 32 minute projection, 16 minutes will remain for English, Williams and possibly Maggette. 12 minutes at small forward and 8 at shooting guard, at least prior to the trade deadline, makes for a fair expectation.
If Maggette is healthy, expect his efficiency to increase. 44.5% is barely below his career average and on par with his three year average, so that might be a fair expectation in 2012-13. His athletic numbers, the rebounds, steals and otherwise, aren't likely to improve. Last, if he's used wisely, he'll be a top option when he's on court as he has been in the past. Eight shot attempts per game, with one of those coming from beyond the arc, feels fair if the goal is to show what Maggette still has left in the tank.
20 minutes, 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1 assist, .3 steals, 1.7 turnovers, 44.5% shooting
This could all be for naught. Corey Maggette could be nagged by injuries all season long, and the team could look at him as nothing more than an expiring salary that won't have much involvement in the rotation. They may not be looking to see what value he has on the trade market, and they may prefer to spend his savings in free agency. However, given that his competitors for playing time are all rookies, the team may need him while they develop. The wise move would be to give him the lions share of the available minutes for the first half of the season and see what comes Detroit's way on the market. Once the trade deadline has passed, however, the rookies should own the backup minutes whether he's on the team or not.
The irony I hinted at when I opened this article is tragic in my eyes, at least. Five years ago, when the East went big at small forward (Lebron and Pierce), Tayshaun's value was toast. He embodied the cracks in the armor of that Pistons team and should have been the first to go. The ideal replacement would have been a guy to force these new stars to defend in the playoffs, to force them into foul trouble and give them a full court workout. The Pistons finally picked that guy up five years too late, and after his prime has long since faded. Seeing him in a Pistons uniform now is not only bittersweet, it's kind of depressing.