Sunday night, with Rasheed Wallace sidelined by sore ankles, Maxiell made his case.
The second-year player finished a career night with the winning shot in Detroit's 97-93 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
"Maxie isn't going to play 30 minutes a night when Sheed gets back," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "But he will play. He's earned that."
With the score tied at 93, Maxiell took a pass from Chauncey Billups and hit a 10-foot baseline jumper with 6.8 seconds to play.
"Mr. Big Shot had the ball, so I wasn't expecting to get it," Maxiell said, referring to Billups. "I was about to go to the rack when he dished me the ball."
Billups said that he didn't think twice about putting the game in the hands of a little-used reserve.
"As great as Max played tonight, he deserved the chance," Billups said. "I gave him a crack at it. This is the type of game where you learn a lot about young guys, and he got some respect."
Maxiell had 17 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes, all career highs for a player that some of the SuperSonics couldn't even identify.
"Max ... Mac ... Maxwell, whatever his name is, he outrebounded our whole team," Rashard Lewis said. "Every time I turned around, he was coming out of nowhere. I don't think we put a body on him all night."
Maxiell helped the Pistons outrebound Seattle 54-32, including 26-7 on the offensive glass.
"This game was about rebounding," Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "They moved us right out of the way and Maxiell jumped over the top."
Tayshaun Prince fouled Lewis at the other end, and Lewis' free throws tied it with 28.4 seconds left, setting the stage for Maxiell's shot.
"We felt like we were in a position to win this game, so this is very tough," Lewis said. "One guy just killed us."
Hamilton finished with 24 points, and Billups had 21. Dale Davis added 13 rebounds.
"Dale looked like he turned the clock back 10 years tonight," Saunders said. "When he and Maxie are on the floor, the whole identity of our team changes."
Lewis led the Sonics with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Wilcox added 21 points.
Detroit outrebounded the Sonics 29-14 in the first half, but led only 51-50. Lewis kept Seattle in the game with 16 points in the half on 7-of-9 shooting.
Wilcox had 10 points in the first 8 minutes of the third, helping Seattle go ahead, but the Pistons tied it on Hamilton's four-point possession. He was fouled by Nick Collison while scoring, and added a second free throw on Collison's technical.
Hamilton's short jumper on the next possession put Detroit ahead 71-69, and the Pistons still had a 77-74 advantage going into the fourth.
Seattle tied it at 79, but Billups answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Pistons a six-point lead with 8:51 left.
Detroit only managed Billups' two free throws in the next 6 minutes, but played enough defense to keep the lead. Hamilton's short jumper made it 89-85 with 2:48 left, but Seattle kept coming.
- Detroit's 26 offensive rebounds were the most in the NBA this season, and was one more than Seattle's defensive-rebound total.
- Maxiell led the Pistons in scoring in the preseason, but only played in 12 of Detroit's first 21 regular-season games.
- Lewis hit his first six field-goal attempts, including two 3-pointers.
- Seattle rookie Andreas Glyniadakis saw limited action in his first game against Detroit, which drafted in him in the second round in 2003.