Surprised By Maggette Rumors

A Daily Babble Production

There is no doubt that Corey Maggette's tenure in Golden State is off to an inauspicious start.

After signing a five year, $50 million deal this summer, Maggette has played in just 16 of the Warriors' first 34 games.  He has battled hamstring problems throughout the season, and the team is off to a miserable 10-25 start.  When Maggette has been on the court, he hasn't been at his best.  His scoring is down three points per game from last year (and his per-minute scoring is at its lowest mark in six seasons), and he is having the most inefficient shooting campaign of his ten-year career.  The team has actually been more successful without Mags in the lineup, going just 3-13 with him on the floor.

Despite all that, rumors of the Warriors making aggressive efforts to move their newly acquired forward still come as a bit of a surprise.

The Warriors sunk a lot of money into Maggette last summer, but for the most part, it was with good reason.  The guy is a scorer, no ifs and or buts.  He attacks the rim as hard as any swingman in the league.  Though he is guilty of putting his head down and committing to getting his shot off at all costs with stunning regularity, Maggette has remained efficient in doing so throughout his career.  Only Dwight Howard and LeBron James averaged more than Maggette's 9.7 trips to the foul line per game a season ago.  He ranked 10th in that department in 2006-07 and sits at sixth this year, averaging 8.4 free throw attempts per game.

Maggette makes those attempts count as an 82 percent shooter.  Despite his less-than-impressive skills distributing the basketball, his ability to score in volume and be efficient often seems to offset worries about his selfishness.  Maggette posts a career true shooting mark of 57.6 percent, and he checked in at 58.3, 58.4 and 59.5 over the three seasons prior to this one.  In addition to the fact that Maggette has used that slashing ability to average 20 points per game three times in his career, he is also a decent enough rebounder for a 6-6 small forward.  Maggette averages 5.1 boards per game for his career and has grabbed more than 5.5 per game in five of the last six seasons.  He isn't a good defender, and that's long been attributed to a lack of focus at that end of the floor (an area in which he is far from alone in this league), but it's been hard to argue with his scoring production and ability to grab the ball off the glass.

Even in what has decidedly been a down year for Maggette thus far, the individual numbers aren't exactly making him the basketball equivalent of my beloved Dodgers' Andruw Jones signing from a year ago.  Maggette is shooting the ball miserably from deep (18 percent), and his true shooting is the worst of his career.  But that's still 55 percent, a respectable mark for a guy scoring 19 points per game.  He's been battling injuries and getting acclimated to a new system, one which should go well with his always-in-attack-mode style.  Given Maggette's track record, the current hamstring problems and the fact that he is only 29 years old, it seems reasonable to expect his productivity in Golden State to only rise from here, presuming he returns to full health.

All of this leads me to wonder about the thought process in Golden State right now.  There's always the chance that the team knows more about the extent of his injury than it lets on and is trying to deal what the front office sees as damaged goods.  Maggette hasn't been the world's most durable player, but his career hasn't been crippled by injuries either.  He missed 50 games in 2005-06, but that's the only year in his first nine seasons that he didn't play at least 63 games. 

Aside from the possible damaged goods issue, I don't get it.  The team had to know what it was getting when it brought in Maggette: foul-shooting machine who scores in bunches, anything else a bonus.  It doesn't take any sort of super-sleuth scouting to get that far.  If bringing in that type of player was a smart idea in July, I'd have a hard time understanding how it could have been deemed a mistake already (though Maggette has spent his whole career around losing teams - chicken or egg with the Clippers? - and seems to have garnered a reputation for being primarily concerned with "getting his" statistically). 

If the Warriors signed Maggette simply as a knee-jerk reaction to losing Baron Davis to the division rival Clippers, that's a bit silly.  But even so, moving forward with a core based around Maggette and Monta Ellis (as well as center Andris Biedrins) hardly seems terrible.  Both are efficient, high-volume scorers who like to run and could fit together well playing Don Nelson's style.  Not the groundwork for the best defensive crew of all time, but that hasn't exactly been the Warriors' MO under Nellie in the first place.

There is still something missing here.  A healthy Corey Maggette is perhaps selfish, but he is also definitively a better basketball player than the Mags we have seen so far this season.  He was the Warriors' big free agent catch this off-season, and while he has his flaws, he is a productive player who can help this team.  What is going on behind closed doors in Golden State that we don't know about?

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