One of this season's most pressing questions has been when the insanely productive Andre Drummond was going to supplant Jason Maxiell in the starting lineup. It was on the verge of happening when Drummond went down with a back injury expected to keep him out until mid-March.
Now the question should be should Maxiell lose not even his starting role but his spot in the rotation RIGHT NOW? The longest-tenured Piston started the season strong. He was rebounding the basketball, hitting his mid-range jumper and blocking shots. But his production has gotten steadily worse as the season has gone on. He has more games with four or less rebounds (21) than he has with seven or more (15). After a respectable first 17 games that saw him with a 57 percent TS%, he is down to 47.6 percent on the season.
And lately things have gotten even worse. In his past 12 games Maxiell has a 35 percent TS% and has hit just eight of 34 shots from mid-range. He's averaging just 3.5 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. He's a net-minus-33 in those 12 games. The only players performing worse have been "shooting guards" Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey. Those two are at -52 and -54, respectively. But that is a different headache for a different post.
To his credit, Maxiell admits that he hasn't performed lately and that making way for Drummond was (going to be) the right move.
"I understand what the plan is, this team is working on things, to see if Andre and Greg (Monroe) can work together, to see if I can bring energy off the bench," Maxiell said. "I wasn't performing to my highest peak as I should've been. If somebody's playing better, you start him."
"I'm going to keep on putting the extra work in during practice and finish out the season, try to make this playoff run."
While his work ethic is admirable the Pistons should explore taking Maxiell out of the starting lineup or the rotation altogether. They could either start Charlie Villanueva and hope Maxiell's defense can at least help the Pistons bench keep the margin where the starters left it or go younger and ride a Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko, Slava Kravtsov big-man rotation as far as it will go. All three could be on the team next season while Maxiell looks like he will be headed elsewhere.