Friday, December 22, 2006

Jason Maxiell: The Best Is Yet To Come

Ben Who?

There's no more Fro to fear. No more biceps to ogle. No more placards with the letter "B" to hold up, tallying the blocked shots.

Out with Big Ben. In with Super Max.

Jason Maxiell, the Pistons' young brutus at power forward/center, is going to turn this town on, and you're free to tell everyone you know that you were there from the ground floor up.

Maxiell is a precious metal, mined by Joe Dumars and his scouting staff, and when his coaches and teammates finish buffing and polishing him, he's going to shine so much, Pistons fans will have to wear sunglasses inside The Palace.

Your next Pistons star

One of this season's highlights occurred the other night, in Auburn Hills.

In the closing seconds of a tie game against Seattle, point guard Chauncey Billups penetrated the key and, his lane to the basket closed off, zipped a neat pass to Maxiell, standing alone along the baseline. The kid arched and drained a 15-foot jump shot. Easily. Game, Pistons.

It was a watershed moment, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Maxiell is a rebounding machine, and can score the basketball. He might not possess the same intimidating presence that Ben Wallace did in the paint, but then again, he doesn't have to, really. At this stage, it's enough for him to play about 20 minutes, score a few points, and clean the glass. Oh yeah -- Maxiell can run the floor, too. Don't let his wide body fool you.

Last night in Cleveland, Maxiell played 17 minutes and scored 11 points, with three rebounds. In the Seattle game, he scored 17 points in 32 minutes, and grabbed 12 boards.

The voices on TNT, last night, dared a comparison between Maxiell and Charles Barkley. Normally, such talk would cause me to roll my eyes -- bantied about far too early in a young player's career. But it makes sense, to me, for Maxiell is part of a dying breed -- the undersized frontline player who can hold his own among the Redwoods around him. Someone who can rebound and score, despite his height disadvantage. Someone like ... Charles Barkley, actually.

The beauty of it all is that Jason Maxiell can mature at his own rate, without the pressure of being a #3 overall pick, like a certain beanpole who now performs in Orlando. Investment in him is cheap, relatively speaking. But the return should be significant.

Super Max is a butterball from the University of Cincinnati who'll make Pistons fans go crazy. Who needs a Fro to fear? Ben mostly wears braids nowadays, anyway.


Kurt said...

I've thought the same of Max. Not the Barkley comparison, but that he is simply great to watch and the next Big Ben as he matures and gets more playing time.

Added you to my blogroll and RSS, Greg. I have no idea why I hadn't had you in my daily readings but the mistake was totally on my part for that.

Greg Eno said...

Thanks for the addition, Kurt -- and your patronage!!

Teymour said...

Good observations; just a few corrections. Ben's rebounds used to be tallied with R's. Also, the beanpole was actually the second pick overall.