One of the reasons both Lawrence Frank and Joe Dumars stated in re-signing Tayshaun Prince was the desire for a leader and a veteran presence.
I won't re-hash old arguments but needless to say someone involved with a history of showing his (often negative) emotions, someone involved in a supposed team mutiny and a person who called the actions of a former coach, whom he had several public spats with, "buffoonery" left many fans wondering if Prince actually fit the bill.
Prince has done his part, and with what seems like better talent around him so far this year has lessened the bad body language, taken fewer shots and looks more like the complimentary piece he so excelled at being during the Pistons championship years.
But if Prince never managed to quite wear the leadership role it seems like one new Piston, Corey Maggette, is enthusiastic to don. Ever since arriving in Detroit from Charlotte in the Ben Gordon trade, Maggette has said his primary role is leadership and has proven it with his actions.
He proves that you don't need to fill up the stat sheet (Maggette has struggled this year after missing time at the beginning of the season to injury) to be a leader and positively impact a team.
Most notably, Maggette gathered the players at half court after the team's 117-77 annihilation of the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday and he and Prince talked to the young team. Once at half court Maggette gave a pep talk, presumably getting the team to put their ugly first eight games, when they went 0-8, behind them and believe their next eight games, when they went 5-3, is more indicative of their true talents.
This is what Maggette told the Detroit News:
"I brought the guys to center court because it was important - I mean, this is a start, a winning streak," Maggette said. "It's important to see what we did, what we've accomplished, we can build on that."
His voice has been important through the first few weeks of the season, with his behind-the-scenes support of coach Lawrence Frank, to his subtle motivational methods with rookie Andre Drummond, whom Maggette tells to dunk everything, and Brandon Knight, whom Maggette dubbed "The Franchise."
While Maggette might never regain the form that saw him be so productive in his days as a Clipper, he has already proven more valuable than just his $10 million expiring contract.
Don't get me wrong, you can't suddenly make a bad team good through intangible qualities like leadership. You need the talent on the floor, the ability to defend and put the ball in the basket. But on a team whose best player is the unassuming and somewhat quiet Greg Monroe, and with so many rookies expected to play important roles this season (we hope), you need guys like Maggette who can command a huddle, get in people's faces, offer encouragement and be a stabilizing force in the locker room.
And while his stay in Detroit will probably only last until the end of this season, Maggette is already making plans for his post-playing career. He has even talked to Pistons personnel about what it takes to be in the front office of an NBA franchise.
He said he has spoken regularly with Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and assistant general manager George David about their front-office journeys.
"These are guys I kind of look up to, and the steps they've taken to get to a position are always good to learn," Maggette said.