I harbor no real regrets that the Clippers and Corey Maggette parted ways, but for better or worse, there’s no other player in the Association whose development as a pro we’ve watched more closely over the past decade. Corey’s game is flawed – and those shortcomings have been documented extensively here and elsewhere – but he’s still an interesting player from an observational standpoint. I’ve always been ambivalent about Corey. His game has this comforting efficiency that I really admire, but in the end, I guess I instinctively prefer players who are a little more cerebral. That’s probably unfair. And even though I think the Clippers are better longterm without him, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss him a little.
Since we’re playing the Warriors tomorrow afternoon, I thought it might be interesting to see how Corey is fitting in up in Oakland. Has Don Nelson asked him to adjust his settings? How has the system up there influenced his game? Just a little curious, that’s all.
It’s important to note that Corey has been suffering from a bad hammie. Last night is his first game since November 3, and he plays only 28 minutes. Because Don Nelson recruits his roster from a carnival job fair, Corey is assigned to guard Rasheed Wallace at the outset, even though he gives up five inches to the Detroit big man:
- [1st, 11:42] The Pistons don’t waste any time exploiting the Sheed-Corey mismatch. Wallace gets good position just off the left block. He backs Corey in, spins baseline and elevates an easy jumper over Corey.
- [1st, 11:07] Corey tries valiantly to get between Wallace and the ball, but ends up fouling Wallace. No shots.
- [1st, 10:05] The Warriors push the ball up after a Detroit bucket. CJ Watson gets it ahead to Corey in the open court. As Corey races upcourt, Wallace gambles unsuccessfully, and now Corey barrels straight to the basket — but he loses the handle as he crosses into the paint. Turnover.
- [1st, 9:07] Corey is doing yeoman’s work on Wallace. It isn’t easy. But he’s doing a good enough job to force Rip Hamilton to overthrow the entry pass into Wallace. Andris Biedrins steals the ball. Give Corey a defensive assist.
- [1st, 8:40] On a Hamilton/Wallace S/R, Corey does a very nice job showing off the screen. It forces Hamilton to step back and fire an off-balanced jumper.
On most of Golden State’s halfcourt possessions, you’ll find Corey Maggette in a very familar spot — loitering along the arc out on the wing. With no real post threat other than Biedrins, there’s a lot to space to work with, but Corey — as he often did in Los Angeles — doesn’t do much to fill it.
- [1st, 8:02] In a slow-it-down halfcourt set, Corey gets the ball up high against Rasheed Wallace. He holds the ball. Iverson is cheating over just a little and has his eye on Corey, knowing that Corey prefers to go right. That’s exactly what Corey does. Iverson sticks his hand in for a strip. Wallace isn’t as quick as Corey, but does an effective job at funneling Corey toward the help — Tayshaun Prince. Prince challenges Corey at the rim, forcing him to throw up a wild layup attempt that isn’t close.
That’s where Detroit is so effective defensively. In recent years, they’ve never been that quick of a team; it’s just that they know exactly how to manipulate the action so that the help always arrives where and when it should. The Spurs also do this well.
- [1st, 6:40] Wallace wants the ball again against Corey. He gets it. Corey bodies up nicely. Wallace spins baseline, gets the look he wants — he towers over Corey — but Biedrins is there to help, and Wallace misses the shot. The Pistons retain possession, and on the reset, Iverson gets Corey on a defensive switch. Corey has been an adequate on-ball defender most of his career. Here, he manages to stay in front of Iverson, who takes a 15-foot jumper that’s a little bit long.
- [1st, 5:37] Detroit’s rotation falls apart, and Corey is left with a wide, wide open 3PA up top, but misses the shot.
- [1st, 5:16] A baseline drive by Iverson scrambles the Golden State defense. Wallace has drifted high, where he sets up at the top of the arc. Corey is distracted by all the action in the left corner, where Hamilton has the ball. Rip sees this and fires a pass to Wallace. Corey is too late and Wallace drains the 3PA.
- [1st, 4:36] The Prince/Wallace S/R on the left side leaves Maggette on Prince off the switch. Stephen Jackson picks up Wallace, whose 13-footer is no good. This is probably the smarter defensive matchup for GSW, and I’m not sure why Nelson chooses otherwise.
- [1st, 3:24] Corey gets the ball on the right side against Wallace in an iso set. He puts his head down, and drives right along the baseline. Tayshaun Prince had been covering Jackson at the top of the circle. When Corey begins his drive, Prince slides down. This leaves Jackson free to dive through the lane toward the hoop. Corey makes a pretty pass around Wallace that finds Jackson at the basket for the slam. Beautiful look from Corey. How many times in Los Angeles did he hit a cutter off his drive? Nice work.
In general, Corey plays Wallace much tighter away from the basket as the quarter progresses. Wallace never sees another shot in the period. When Corey returns with about 3:00 in the 2nd quarter, he mistakenly doubles Hamilton at 20 feet off a screen, leaving Wallace alone for a 21-footer that falls. Corey gets his first FTAs of the night at [2nd, 0:42] when Detroit gets crossed up on their S/R defense, allowing Corey a path through the lane. Amir Johnson steps in, and Corey throws his body into Johnson’s, earning a trip to the line.
The second half will look a lot more familiar to Clipper fans. Of Golden State’s first nine possessions of the second half, Corey gets FTAs on five of them, and another transition possession yields a Corey 15-foot jumper. Here are the possessions that yield Corey’s five trips to the stripe:
- [3rd, 11:46] You know it well — Corey curls from the left corner, receives the ball from Watson, and slashes through the lane, drawing contact from Kwame Brown. He sinks both FTAs.
- [3rd, 9:29] Corey likes his matchup: It’s Walter Herrmann, and you can see Corey licking his chops as he holds the ball on the left wing. He takes a hard dribble with his left, gets a good first step on Herrmann, who doesn’t stand a chance. As Herrmann hacks Corey 12 feet out, Corey hurls the ball toward the hoop, earning two FTAs. He hits both and GSW, who led by seven at the half, extends its lead to 12.
- [3rd, 7:58] Classic transition Corey: He skies for the rebound at the defensive end, weaves his way upcourt, finds the most vulnerable defender — Herrmann again — barrels into him, heaves the ball at the basket, and earns two more FTAs. He sinks both.
- [3rd, 7:35] The Warriors might be reckless, but they aren’t stupid. The ball goes back into Corey against Herrmann just off the right elbow. Corey backs him in, then kicks the ball back out to Watson, who promptly returns it to Corey a few feet deeper. Herrmann hacks him. It’s the 4th team foul at 7:31, and Herrmann’s 3rd personal. Michael Curry has seen enough, and yanks Herrmann. Off the inbound, it goes back to Corey on the right side, this time against Rip Hamilton. Corey backs him in, spins baseline, and draws the shooting foul against Hamilton. Corey sinks 1 of 2.
- [3rd, 6:56] Right back to Maggette, who has been the focal point of the offense. This time he’s up against Arron Afflalo. Corey backs him in, turns, draws contact, and sinks one of two from the line.
Afflalo gets his revenge on Corey about a minute later, when Corey fails to box him out off a Detroit miss. Afflalo collects the OR, steps back and nails a 3PM. For whatever reason, the Warriors go away from the Maggette toward the end of the period, though it’s not like Detroit makes a profound adjustment or anything. Corey carelessly coughs up the ball at [3rd, 2:53], which lets Afflalo loose on a fast break for an easy two and the foul.
Corey enters the game at [4th, 5:50] with his team leading by one. He takes two shots down the stretch, missing both:
- [4th, 2:47] Corey brings the ball up and holds it, as all four of his Warrior teammates clear the right side for him. Corey is being covered by Tayshaun Prince. Corey lowers his head and takes a hard dribble with his right. Prince stands his ground, forcing Corey against the baseline. Corey spins back left, elevates for an awkward running 5-footer, hoping to draw contact. In Corey’s defense, he doesn’t have a lot of options. Azebuke is immediately picked up by Hamilton as he dives for the basket.
- [4th, 1:55] The Warriors are down by three. The ball goes into Corey at the same spot on the right wing against Prince. Again, the Warriors clear out, and again Corey drives right, and again Prince holds his ground. Corey elevates — this time about 10 feet out — launches an awkward jumper on the way down that misses badly. A better decision: Drive left, draw Jackson’s man [Afflalo] low, and hit Jackson on the perimeter for an open shot.
Corey finishes with 13 points in 28 minutes on 2-7 FG, 9-12 FT. His function in the Warriors’ offense is remarkably similar to his role in Los Angeles. Because Nelson likes to run, Corey will get a few more transition opportunities than he did as a Clipper. And because Nelson likes to field a small lineup, Corey will often be saddled with the added responsibility of having to defend post sets against guys much taller than him.
Tomorrow should be interesting.