FanHouse's Tom Ziller argues his ranking of the top 50 players in the NBA.
Individual offense in the NBA comes down to two central pillars: being able to get a shot off, by creating or being available when a pass comes, and scoring efficiently. Many, many players do one or the other well, but not both. Jamal Crawford could shoot every time down if he wanted to, but the final output won't be particularly pretty. Fred Hoiberg routinely appeared near the top of the board in shooting efficiency ... but he had immense trouble creating enough shots to really matter.
Corey Maggette is one of the few current players who can pull off both feats at the same time. More than accounting for a 1+1 higher sum, the efficiency amid high usage serves a sort of multiplier, magnifying Maggette's abilities and making him one of the elite weapons of our day.
During his time in Los Angeles, Maggette's minutes fluctuated. He saw a standard progression during his early years (20 to 26 to 31 min/game), then two season of starter minutes (36+ minutes in 2003-04 and 2004-05). Then things got a little weird: Maggs fell back into a 30-minute level with some weird hocus pocus from Mike Dunleavy. Injuries ravaged the Clips this past season, and Maggette was back at 35 minutes.
But minutes aside, Maggette has always been a prime (and in some cases the prime) weapon for L.A. His usage rate (the percentage of team possessions used when he's on the court) has fallen between 25 and 28 since 2002-03. That's top 50 (#49) for his career. (Meaning: he uses a larger share of his team's possessions than all but 48 players in the NBA history.) Some pundits discount the value of usage. That's like arguing Hoiberg can be an All-Star if only he'd take more shots. He can't take more shots. Getting shots is a skill. Maggette is extraordinarily good at it.
Getting points out of those shots: also a skill. Maggs excels here, with a career True Shooting percentage of 57.6%. True Shooting is a weighted field goal percentage, taking into account points off threes and free throws. Three-pointers are worth 50% more than two-pointers, with the same opportunity cost (at a basic level). So folks who hit 40% of 10 three-pointers (12 points) should be rewarded over folks who hit 40% of 10 two-pointers (8 points). Likewise, in a basic theorem which escapes most critical notice for some reason, people who hit a lot of free throws should be rewarded.
When you get a pair of free throws, you basically have two opps for one point each. The average NBA player shoots 75% from the line. Some simple math: a 75% chance of scoring one point on the first FT, a 75% chance of scoring one point on the second FT. Probability would give you an estimated 1.5 points per pair of FTs. You'd have to shoot 75% on two-pointers or 50% on three-pointers to equal that efficiency. Neither of those is going to happen.
So, as long as you shoot at least 75% from the line, free throws are really, really valuable. It's a skill, drawing fouls: be wary of floppers who will hang you with a charge and a turnover, be wary of taking bad shots in an attempt to wildly draw contact, the whole "get knocked down seven times" thing leads to injuries. Not every player is quick enough, smart enough or tough enough to draw fouls regularly.
Maggette is plenty quick/smart/tough enough to do this well. (He also can shoot FTs well: 82% on his career.) And it's a boon to his efficiency ... and his team's offense. Despite his minute fluctuations, Maggs has finished in the top-5 for free throws made four times. He finished #2 in FT/minute last season. He draws an absolutely ton of fouls, and he converts his charity chances. As such, he has become one of the most efficient weapons in the game.
This was all under Mike Dunleavy, with uneven minutes, a license to pass-it-to-Elton, and an unimaginative offense. Under Don Nelson's frenetic, shoot-it-if-you-got-it reckless stewardship ... what, is Maggs supposed to get worse? He'll be better than ever, leading Golden State in scoring and feasting on a steady diet of free throws and slashing buckets. A strongman at high speed, he'll probably build up a decent list of charge victims. But he'll still buoy the Warrior offense and keep his team afloat. It won't be enough, but it's no fault of Maggete.