Jason Maxiell overachieved during his eight years with the Detroit Pistons, coming into the league as a bit player on the last three of Detroit’s record run of six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances and transitioning into a valuable role player and veteran leader on teams that lacked talent.
The 26th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Maxiell never averaged more than 7.9 points per game in a season nor more than 25 minutes per game, but he was a respected member of the Pistons because of his work ethic and his willingness to do the dirty work in the paint, despite being undersized at 6’7”—a generous listing.
Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan announced Thursday that Maxiell agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Magic and it is expected that Maxiell will add both depth and experience to Orlando’s young frontcourt of Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson.
Maxiell lost the numbers game in Detroit. His effectiveness on the offensive end has been waning for the last four seasons, as his field-goal percentage dropped precipitously each year. He got older and what limited athleticism he brought to the job has waned.
Maxiell was a 53.8 percent shooter from the floor in 2007-08, the season he became a regular member of the Pistons’ rotation and posted a career-high player efficiency rating of 16.7 in 21.6 minutes per game. After posting a 57.5 field-goal percentage in 2008-09, however, he has seen a steady decline, to 51.1 percent in 2009-10, 49.2 percent in 2010-11, 47.8 percent in 2011-12 and 44.6 percent last season—the lowest mark since his 42.6 percent shooting as a rookie playing six minutes a game in 2005-06.
He did average career highs of 24.8 minutes and 5.7 rebounds per game last season, but his PER was just 11.3 while starting a career-high 71 games.
With the additions of free-agent forwards Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks and Luigi Datome from Italy and the drafting of athletic combo forward Tony Mitchell from North Texas in the second round of the June draft, there just wasn’t a place left for Maxiell. The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday there were never any signs the Pistons made an effort to retain the unrestricted free agent.
Here’s a compilation of Maxiell’s top 10 plays as a Piston:
The bottom line: Maxiell is a solid pro, but he’s a player who got his most minutes with teams that were not contenders. The Pistons see themselves as a team on the rise and that meant there was no longer a roster spot for a hard-working but extremely limited contributor such as Jason Maxiell.