Only a few hours after John Salmons informed the Milwaukee Bucks he was going to opt out of his contract and enter free agency, the Bucks pulled the trigger on a trade that will bring small forward Corey Maggette to Milwaukee in exchange for the Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell’s expiring contracts. By acquiring the physical forward and the 44th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Bucks’ possible 2010 NBA Draft picks are made clearer than they have been since the evaluation process began.
By Jake McCormick
Forget everything you’ve heard from me and others about the Bucks draft bias towards small forwards, because this twist has revealed the team will focus more on the shooting guard (Xavier Henry, James Anderson, Lance Stephenson), power forward (Larry Sanders, Patrick Patterson), and center (Cole Aldrich, Hassan Whiteside) positions. I’ll have more on this tomorrow, but for now let’s focus on why Maggette will make teams Fear the Deer in 2010-11.
Salmons and Maggette are very similar in that they can create their own shots, get to the line consistently, and will be paid around $30 million over the next three years, until they both turn 33. But when you put them head to head statistically, Maggette emerges with the clear advantage because of his consistency, overall style of play, and his newfound role as a veteran leader.
Getting the negatives out of the way, Maggette has yet to play a full NBA season because of injuries, only plays with maximum effort on one end of the floor, and has been a chucker for his first nine years in the league. But in his 10th, all first hand accounts have reported seeing Maggette as a more mature player and locker room leader similar to the 2009-10 stunning transformation of Zach Randolph, before it was discovered he was peddling drugs in the side.
There’s no debate that Maggette is a statistics driven player and had a 2009-10 top 25 PER of 20.5. Despite playing 29.7 minutes per game (his lowest number since 2005-06), Maggette put up 19.8 ppg (52.3% eFG), 5.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, and finished seventh in the league with 7.9 free throws per game. In fact, Maggette drew a foul on 20.5% of his shots in 09-10, which was more than even LeBron James (17.5%), and had a higher rebounding and assist percentage than Salmons (10% to 5.4% and 13.2% to 12.9%, respectively).
Maggette’s mid-range and three point game (41% eFG and 26% 3FG) leave something to be desired, and he has yet to play a full NBA season thanks to injuries and his physical style of play. But realistically, the Bucks won’t have to ride Maggette hard and have a very capable backup in Carlos Delfino, who can compliment Maggette’s athleticism with a respectable perimeter game.
Maggette has also long been considered an average defender, but this is mostly due to his indifference to the craft. Maggette actually has very good lateral quickness and would not be in a Bucks uniform if Hammond and coach Scott Skiles felt he wouldn’t be up to the challenge of pushing himself defensively.
If things go as planned, Maggette will provide the one-on-one scoring opportunities and respectable defense of Salmons with added athleticism and rebounding skills. The Bucks biggest deficiency heading into the 2010 NBA Draft was the lack of a player that can score at will and get to the stripe consistently. Exchanging two expensive and little used players for a proven scoring commodity looks good any way you look at it.