Extended benching of veterans on lottery teams, like Corey Maggette on the Pistons, indicates league-wide mentality

The veteran Maggette hasn't played since December for Lawrence Frank and the Pistons, a fact that has confused the offensively-talented small forward
 

At this point in the NBA season, with roughly half a month remaining until the playoffs, there are a bunch of teams so far back in the standings that it appears they are getting more ready for June's draft than tomorrow's game. For many of these teams, which are mainly composed of younger players still accumulating that all-important profession experience, the most prudent way for them to attack the waning games of a failed, non-playoff season is to focus on giving the young players playing time, and eschew the veterans of the team, to a certain extent.

This philosophy has been exhibited to a tee by two of the worst teams in entire NBA in the 2012-13 campaign. The Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic, two of the Eastern Conference's cellar-dwellers, are prime examples of this mentality being exercised with the double effect of emphasizing young players and positioning for a draft spot simultaneously. 

Detroit's benched veteran is none other than former Duke Blue Devil Corey Maggette, who is making just around $11 million per year with the 24-48 Pistons. Maggette has predicated his NBA career on being able to get to the basket, draw tons of fouls, and hit jumpers with pretty decent consistency. However, he has seen his role with Detroit shrink from regular playing time to absolutely none, as coach Lawrence Frank hasn't put Maggette in a game since December 15th, confusing and frustrating a stir-crazy vet that can't comprehend why his talents have gone to waste for over three months

The Pistons are a perfect example of an underperforming team stocked with young talent (like Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Brandon Knight) that is clearly not headed for the playoffs but is also given the responsibility of putting a decent product on the court for its paying fans and the general competitive nature of the NBA. In Frank's case, he had to wrestle between seeing more game action of his younger guys (for experience and tanking purposes) and letting his better veterans keep the reigns of the team, hurting its lottery chances but making it more competitive. Clearly, Frank chose the young players. A very slippery slope to deal with. 

Detroit isn't the only team to display the rookie-over-veteran general philosophy as the similarly-low-in-the-standings Orlando Magic have done the same thing with Al Harrington, who is being passed over in the rotation by the team's less-experienced players in Kyle O'Quinn, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, and Andrew Nicholson, among others.

These teams, their coaching staffs, and front offices are showing that, in today's NBA, the future matters much, much more than the present does, evidenced by the sacrificing of results today for draft picks tomorrow. It's a trend that has been sweeping the league for awhile, and looks to spread even further in the coming years.

About Josh Burton

I'm a New York native who has been a Nets season ticket holder, in both New Jersey and now Brooklyn, for his entire life. Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism) '18

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