Denton: Maxiell Will Provide Toughness & Mentoring
ORLANDO – Jason Maxiell broke into the NBA in 2005 with the Detroit Pistons while playing alongside of veteran players Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Dale Davis and Theo Ratliff.
Their style of leadership was often one of tough love and no excuses, so that cast of veteran characters didn’t ever go easy on Maxiell. It’s a similar leadership style to the one that Maxiell will employ in Orlando after the power forward signed a free-agent contract with the Magic last week.
In Orlando, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Maxiell was brought in as much for his leadership skills and veteran mentoring of Orlando’s many young players as he was for his rugged play on the court. The Magic are mostly constructed around a young core of Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Victor Oladipo and Andrew Nicholson, and Maxiell will be asked to impart some of his toughness and veteran leadership on those players.
``I had all of those veteran guys there (in Detroit) at the same time teaching me about the game. It was great to have them guiding me as a player. They taught how to always be focused and grow up to be a mature player,’’ Maxiell said. ``I’m more of a hands-on type of guy and I’m going to show you how to do it, tell you all that you need to know and then you throw you to the dogs. The first time I’ll show you how, the second time I’ll guide you through it and the third time you’ll be on your own out there.’’
The Magic signed Maxiell, in part, because of his prior relationship with Orlando VP/Assistant GM Scott Perry, who was a part of the Pistons when they drafted Maxiell with the 26th pick of the 2005 NBA Draft. The eight-year NBA veteran is also appealing to the Magic because he can play both the power forward and center positions in different lineups.
Maxiell could push for starting time at power forward next season after Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis recently needed another surgery to repair the fractured bone in his left foot. Davis fractured the foot in late January and needed a second procedure in late June to install another screw in the fifth metatarsal. It is uncertain whether or not he will be ready for on-court activities when training camp opens on Oct. 1.
Maxiell, 30, had one of his most productive seasons in the NBA this past season despite splitting time with center Greg Monroe and power forward Andre Drummond in Detroit. In 72 games, he averaged 6.9 points (the second-best of his career), a career-high 5.7 rebounds and a career-best 1.3 blocked shots a game. In eight NBA seasons, he’s a 50.3 percent shooter from the floor while averaging 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds.
``I’m not going to try to do too much. I just want to do my job, which will mostly be to rebound and defend,’’ Maxiell said. ``But I can knock down open shots and take the ball strong to the rack when I need to. I’m going to play to my strengths.’’
Maxiell said he was impressed with how hard the Magic played last season and he likes the prowess of Vucevic, who finished second in the NBA in rebounding last season at 11.9 boards a game. Maxiell also likes the complete game of Harris, who averaged 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.55 blocks in the final 27 games last season with the Magic.
Maxiell wants to do his part to shorten the learning curve for Orlando’s young players and teach them some of the veteran tricks that he learned in Detroit.
``In the past I played on teams where I was the young guy, but these last few years in Detroit I moved into that veteran role. I got used to being more vocal around the young guys,’’ he said. ``Being here in Orlando now, the team is pretty young and I want to be a mentor and a role model to them. I’m going to help them however I can.’’
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