The Max Factor
Pistons are 7-3 since Frank made Jason Maxiell a starter
Jason Maxiell has averaged 6.2 points and 6.7 rebounds since moving into the starting lineup, nice numbers but hardly the kind that would suggest how the Pistons went from a 4-19 team without Maxiell in the starting lineup to a 7-3 team since the move was made.
Then again, it would seem a stretch to say the turnaround that started when Lawrence Frank made the lineup move is merely coincidental.
Jonas Jerebko began the season as the starting power forward next to Greg Monroe and that lasted 13 games. Then Ben Wallace took over at a point where the Pistons were due to face a number of teams with tough interior scoring matchups for which Frank felt Wallace was better suited than Jerebko, who as a starter was frequently running into early foul trouble.
Wallace stayed as the starter for 10 games, Frank making the switch to Maxiell after the Pistons were beaten decisively in three straight late January road games in which they got off to sluggish starts.
Maxiell is playing with the type of spring in his step that’s marked his best moments as a Piston, contributing the momentum-swinging blocked shots and dunks that electrify the home crowd and energize his teammates. He knows his role is to play with an edge and anchor the team’s interior defense.
“That’s my niche,” he said. “I try to come out and get some stops.”
What’s helped the Pistons goes beyond Maxiell’s fit with Monroe and his improved play, though. It also speaks to the way Jerebko and Wallace have taken to their roles with the second unit.
“Max coming to the starting lineup did set up the rotation and also we got healthy,” Monroe said. “Ben Gordon got back healthy, Will Bynum got back healthy and those guys have been giving us big minutes, especially Ben Gordon. Max definitely has been doing a great job. He’s a big part of it.”
He played a big role as the Pistons routed Boston in their latest win, a 15-point decision, contributing six points – Maxiell has scored six points in each of his last six games – to go with 10 boards, three assists and a big blocked shot.
“I thought Max had an unbelievable impact on the game,” Frank said. “The hustle plays he made, especially when the momentum was shifting, his work on the glass. The effort was great. A couple of things have fallen into place with everything coming together and now we have a rotation. Max is a very important component to our team and it gives us the ability where you have Jonas coming off the bench, (Wallace) giving us great minutes coming off the bench. Guys are getting an understanding of what’s expected. The more we’re together, the more comfortable we’ll get with what we need to do.”