Maggette adds valuable element to Pistons mix at small forward
In a suddenly crowded small forward field, Corey Maggette offers the Pistons something nobody else can match. They have two jack-of-all-trades types in Tayshaun Prince and 2011 draft choice Kyle Singler, arriving after a year in Spain, and a pair of floor-stretching shooters in Austin Daye and incoming rookie Khris Middleton.
But in Maggette, Lawrence Frank now has a player who has attacked the basket with the frequency and ferocity to average a whopping seven free throws a game over the course of his 13-year career. In six seasons, he’s averaged eight or more foul shots. As recently as two seasons ago, he averaged 7.9 a game in less than 30 minutes for Golden State.
But at 32, and coming off minor knee surgery and an Achilles strain that limited him to 32 games in a 66-game season, does Maggette still have that in him?
“I was thinking about that the other day,” Maggette said. “Growing up and being that guy that takes it to the basket all the time, you have to make adjustments. It’s important for me to continually try to improve on outside shooting, which will allow me to stay away from a lot of contact. But I can’t take away my aggressiveness. I’ve got to pick my places and try not to get banged up as much.”
Given the presence of the iron man Prince, Maggette isn’t likely to be asked to play more than 20 minutes a game for the Pistons, perhaps less if Singler, Daye or Middleton force their way into the rotation, as well.
Maggette is confident he’ll be 100 percent and ready to go by the time training camp opens in October. He worked Monday with Pistons strength coach Arnie Kander, whose reputation resonates across the NBA.
“I’m working with the Michael Jordan of trainers, Arnie,” Maggette said. “I’ve been looking forward to that.”
Maggette met Monday with Frank, who spoke often last season of the value of Rodney Stuckey’s ability to attack and put the opposition in foul trouble that led to bonus situations early in quarters. A natural role for Maggette could be to replace Prince at the start of the second and fourth quarters and give the Pistons seven or eight minutes of aggressive offense.
“We just talked about things I can do for this team, things he expected of me and I’m just looking forward to the challenge,” Maggette said. “It’s just whatever Lawrence Frank wants me to do, I need to do it and play as hard as I can to help this team.”
Maggette is impressed by the Pistons’ young nucleus and familiar with their veterans. As an Orlando rookie 13 years ago he followed the lead of Ben Wallace, who taught him the value of dedication to the weight room and the gym. He goes back to high school days with Tayshaun Prince, playing summer AAU basketball against him.
“The players we have now, we have a lot of young talent,” he said. “From Brandon and Greg and veteran guys – Big Ben if he continues to play and T Prince and Stuckey.
“Man, I was very, very impressed with Brandon Knight, especially. The way he can score the ball, can really shoot the ball. He made really good decisions. Greg, there’s been improvement every single year from him. You see what they did last year as far as improvement. It can only get better.”
As a kid growing up in suburban Chicago in the ’80s and ’90s, Maggette naturally became fascinated by the Bulls-Pistons rivalry.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t like the Pistons, but being from Chicago I did like the Bulls,” he said. “You can’t forget those big-time rivalries and how physical the game was and watching those guys, how competitive it was in the playoffs. I grew up watching that.”
As one of the many new faces added to the mix, Maggette, about to play for his sixth NBA team, understands the value of chemistry.
“You still have your core guys here. It’s pretty much set from Greg and B Knight – that’s where you actually start – and then you’re bringing in (Andre) Drummond, who definitely is going to be a big talent for us here. You’ve got to move around and figure it out, but I think I’ll be all right. This is definitely a rebuilding process – big things from B Knight and Greg and also from Drummond.”
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Maggette was in Drummond’s shoes – a freshman entering the NBA draft and being taken in the lottery.
“Father time waits for nobody,” he said. “It is what it is. I’m getting older. I can remember back when I was playing at Duke and playing in the championship game, but as you continue to play you will be in that process. When I first came, my veteran guy was Ben Wallace. Now I’m playing here with Ben and we’re pretty much the older guys. It’s just the way sports is. You get older and change happens. Hopefully, I can be an example for the younger guys we have.”