Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Corey Maggette's Playing Himself Out Of Minutes

Corey Maggette missed his second consecutive game on Monday night with, depending on which report you choose to believe- both published on the same Worldwide Leader’s website- either an ankle sprain or flulike symptoms, but was “intending to play.”

I’m not buying it. I mean, I believe that he may have a sore ankle and/or be a bit under the weather, but if I had to wager on the true reason Maggette was glued to the pine on Monday, my money would be on “CD,” or “coach’s decision.”

Why the cynicism?

Bucks’ coach Scott Skiles preaches a hard-nosed approach to the game, predicated on defense and effort. While Maggette’s always given solid effort in his time on the floor- as evidenced by his better-than-average rebound rates (at both ends) and a gift for getting to the free throw line- he’s seldom exhibited much on the defensive end. Little has changed on that front this season, as Maggette’s averaging just .53 “defensive plays per game” (defined as steals+ blocks+ charges drawn; courtesy of HoopData), a total that’s less than half the league average of 1.38.

Throughout his career, Maggette’s value to a team has come primarily through his efficiency at the offensive end, which in 2010-11 has waned considerably- he’s shooting just 39% from the field, 16.7% from 3-point range and has made 40% of his shots just six times in 15 games this season. In the three games before his “injury,” Maggette scored a total of 23 points in 72 minutes and hit just five of 22 shot attempts.

But wait, there’s more!

He’s not hitting 50% of his attempts from any of the shot locations defined by HoopData, including a FG% of just 45.7% “at the rim” and a sorry 25% from 10-15 feet. His “Effective FG%” (adjusted for 3-pointers) is just 39.7%, down from 52.3% a year ago and his lowest (by 6.5%) in the past five years. Meanwhile, his “True Shooting %” (which adjusts for 3-pointers and free throws) has dipped to just 52.7%, down ~9% from last and, again, a five-years low.

Additionally, Maggette’s done a below average job of protecting the ball (12.82 turnover rate, v. league average of 11.57, which means he turn the ball over 1.25 more per 100 possessions than the average NBA player) and has done little to make his teammates better (admittedly not an area of strength historically), with just 5.95% of possessions in which he’s involved ending in an assist, WELL below the league average of 15.32%.

The Bucks, fresh off an unexpected 46-win season and a spirited first round playoff showing, headed into the 2010-11 season with great expectations. While injuries to stud big man Andrew Bogut and starting “3” Carlos Delfino have thrown a wrench into the team’s plans, they've not left the cupboard totally bare. Presented with an ideal opportunity to step into a leadership role on a young team, Maggette’s inability to a) play Skiles’ brand of basketball and b) to provide an efficient spark on offense (the reason he was brought in) appear to have landed him in Skiles’ doghouse instead.

Eh, I guess that’s the risk you take when pay eight figures to a one-dimensional guy who’s suited up in 12 playoff games in 11 pro seasons.

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