Friday, May 2, 2014

Examining Jason Maxiell's 2013-2014 Magic Season

Over the course of the Magic's offseason, leading up to the NBA Draft, I'll be analyzing all of the Orlando players that are still on the roster and how they did in their 2013-2014 campaign. I'll be going in ascending order based on games played. I won't be assigning grades or scores.

Previously in the series:

Ronnie Price
Dewayne Dedmon

Let's take a look at Jason Maxiell.

For the first time in the 31-year-old's now 9-season NBA career, Jason Maxiell was playing for someone other than the Detroit Pistons. Maxiell played 34 games and started 13 of them this season for the Magic, the least court time he's had since his '05-'06 rookie season. Jason averaged 3.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, and 0.6 bpg on a not-so-good 44.8 FG%. He's never been much of a free throw shooter, but the 48.4 FT% won't appease any coach. His season-high tallies were 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Jason only had three games where he reached double figures in scoring, the last one coming on December 3rd.

Ironically until the calendar flipped to January 2014, one of the more efficient Magic scoring plays was posting up Jason Maxiell. Especially on that left side of the bucket. The shot chart mirrors that somewhat. The Cincinnati Bearcat ended up starting the first 10 games of the season due to Glen Davis and Tobias Harris nursing injuries. Once January came, when Kyle O'Quinn began coming into his own and Tobias was healthy and firing on all cylinders, there was no need to play Maxiell. 

Jason played one game in February, one in March, and one in April on Fan Appreciation Night. Following January, Jason may as well have been an assistant coach. It got to the point where the most interesting thing about 'Max' was the question: Why did he stop wearing his signature eye-wearMaxiell's second half of the season highlight was being the player representative to wear Google Glass. It was strange because Maxiell was so pesky on the Pistons and he always gave Orlando issues. He went from 'Magic Killer' to invisible in a season. At least fans loved him for wearing the Bo Outlaw goggles.

He's made a career off of explosive blocking and dunking ability despite being a 6'7" undersized 260-pounder. Just like Ronnie Price though, Jason was signed last summer to be an influence on the younger guys and show his true value in the locker room and practice court. He learned a lot from champions Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace. 

Maxiell ended up teaching centers and forwards such as Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Kyle O'Quinn about being more physical than they were last season (and results show it). Last July, Jason was signed to a 2-year deal at $2.5 million each season. That's almost twice what Ronnie Price makes. As you'd expect, the '14-'15 portion of that contract is fully non-guaranteed. 

Should Maxiell be brought back? I guess Jason has a lot of say in that answer. Is he content with being buried on the bench for another season? My thinking is 'no'. That's fine. Orlando currently has Vucevic, Tobias, O'Quinn, Dewayne Dedmon, and Andrew Nicholson manning the '4' and '5' spots. Romero Osby will be on the team's Summer League roster again. Then there's the NBA Draft itself and who Rob Hennigan may select. 

There probably isn't room for Jason to get the minutes he probably feels he deserves. Maxiell is a great mentor, a solid veteran, another overall good guy, and there will be other NBA opportunities for him. 

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