Corey Maggette is better than Paul Pierce? That's what ESPN's John Hollinger thinks.

Corey Maggette is better than Paul Pierce? That's what ESPN's John Hollinger thinks.

ESPN’s John Hollinger presented his all “under-the-radar” team Thursday (you’ll need ESPN Insider to read the article) and it was nice to see Corey Maggette receive a little recognition from the national media for the season he is having.

Monta Ellis has been the best player for the Warriors this season, but Maggette hasn’t been far behind. A player who came into the season with the reputation of being a selfish player with too large a contract, Maggette is having one of his best seasons as a pro. He is averaging 18.6 points and 5.8 rebounds. Neither of those numbers are career highs (which makes sense because Maggette is playing only 28 minutes per game), but what sets this season apart from the rest is his shooting percentage. Maggette is a much more efficient scorer this season, hitting 53 percent of his shots. He is a career 45.5 percent shooter. Maggette is also an excellent free-throw shooter and is getting to the line a lot (7.7 attempts per game).

Hollinger wrote the following about Maggette:

Everyone dumps on the Warriors for the six-year, $48 million deal they gave Maggette in the summer of 2008, but look a little closer: He’s been fabulous this season. He’s shooting 53.3 percent from the floor after landing in the low-to-mid 40s for most of his career. Combined with his supernatural skill at drawing fouls, the high mark from the floor gives him a 62.9 TS%, placing him among the league’s most efficient scorers.

He scores a lot, too — 26.1 points per 40 minutes — while his rebound rate is on pace for a new career high. As a result, he quietly ranks fourth among small forwards in PER behind the holy trinity of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

And for those of you who complain about the whistles LeBron James and Kobe Bryant get, eat your heart out. I swear to you, nobody gets more superstar calls than Maggette, even though he’s nobody’s idea of a superstar. It’s unbelievable but undeniable once you watch enough Warriors games, and it further pads his astounding free throw totals.

The thing that really impresses me is Maggette’s PER (player efficiency rating, read the definition for this metric here). The league average is 15.0. Maggette is at 21.04, and like Hollinger mentioned, trails only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony among small forwards. Maggette ranks ahead of players like Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay and Gerald Wallace. Overall, he ranks 23rd. Overpaid? I used to think so, but I think he’s earning his contract this season.

Other players who made the all “under-the-radar” team were Steve Nash (Suns), Tim Duncan (Spurs), Carl Landry (Rockets), Beno Udrih (Kings), Luke Ridnour (Bucks), Kevin Love (Timberwolves), Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz), Raymond Felton (Bobcats) and Omri Casspi (Kings).