Category: The Off Season
Dear fans of Deeeee-troit Baaaaaaasketballll,
So I see the always active Joe Dumars has snatched away one of the most talked about free agents of the year in Charlie Villanueva. In Charlie V. you’re getting a terrific guy. One of the Twitter veterans, Charlie V. is as connected to his fan base as you could ever ask of an NBA player. He’s an engaging speaker and carries himself very professionally. A good character guy and a bit of comedian to boot. He did a fake MTV Cribs on Fox Sports Net back in January or February that was pretty good. Genuinely a fun guy to follow. I’ve spent the last three years of my basketball watching life with Mr. Villanueva so I thought I’d let you guys know what you’re about to get into on the court.
And I don’t mean to sound negative when I say that. You will have a lot of fun times with Charlie V. He will take you on some wild rides with his incredible offensive skills. I’ve seen Charlie V. effortlessly put up 26 points in a half. Plenty of times I’ve seen Charlie V. trailing on a break and planting himself at the top of the key for a momentum shifting three pointer that rocked the crowd. When I say that, it actually makes me think of ex-Piston Rasheed Wallace. In that way, they are not uncommon.
It’s not all three-point shots for Charlie V though. He’s shown ability to get past other power forwards with his quickness and slash to the hoop. He’s particularly fond of his little floater move when he finds open space inside. He can power it home though, he was second on the Bucks last year with 48 dunks, which was almost double what Wallace and Antonio McDyess combined for.
Charlie V. can rebound a little bit too. He had 14 double doubles last year and only started 47 games. His rebound rate was 14.7. As a comparison, Chris Bosh averaged eight rebounds a game two years ago with a rate of 14.2. It’s not unlikely that with more playing time, let’s say 36 minutes a game, Charlie V. could grab around eight boards.
In coming to Detroit, Villanueva will be able to finally be confident that he is the number one option at power forward and there is no question about it. In Milwaukee he had to battle Yi Jianlian, Ersan Illyasova, Brian Skinner (really?) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for minutes. It took the anemic offense following injuries to Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut this last season to get him a consistent role in the lineup. And when he got that role he immediately blossomed, averaging just under 20 points per game in about 30 minutes in January. He shot over 44 percent on threes and 86 percent on free throws. The man was a force. He put up similar numbers in February and helped the Bucks cling to the eight seed in the East.
But then things changed.
I wrote near the end of January that Villanueva scared me more than any other player we had, and he showed me why in March. The old Charlie returned from behind the arc. I thought it was too good to be true when I was watching him rain threes from the Bradley Center rafters, and it was. He returned to form with a whopping 26 percent on his threes in March. This is a guy who needs to be hitting his shots to be effective. Remember when I mentioned him and Rasheed Wallace in the same sentence earlier? I did that because as fun as it may have been to can the occasional three, I’m sure it was frustrating for a lot of you that he would so often settle for those with all that talent he had. Well imagine having a player with more offensive talent (not compared to Sheed at 25, but Sheed at 300 or whatever he is) do the same thing and shoot an even worse percentage on threes. That is what you’re in for. Oh, and the comparison also had nothing to do with their defense.
This is where Pistons fans are really in for something. Bucks coaches have been fond over the years of saying they like to bring Villanueva in off the bench to “provide a spark” or “give us instant offense.” That is NBA code for he is a terrible defender. It doesn’t even really make sense. He seems to try most of the time and he has pretty good athletic ability, but I’ve seen him get abused time and time again by numerous power forwards. His poor positioning and timing on defense usually lead to quick fouls and erratic performances when he’s lifted early in the game.
When he gets early fouls it takes away from his aggressiveness and his rebounding suffers too. It’s one thing when this is happening in Milwaukee where no one notices or cares, but how is this going to play out in Detroit people? This is where I worry for you. You’ve become accustomed to blue collar lunch pail guys at the four. Now you’re getting a guy who doesn’t really do the dirty work and likes to shoot threes and play little defense. And behind him will sit Jason Maxiell, a guy who I feel like epitomizes Deeee-trrooiiitt Baaaaaassskkkeeeettballl, doesn’t he? Admittedly I don’t watch a ton of Pistons games. Maybe there is a reason Maxiell wasn’t playing more. But I’m worried for you Pistons fans, I really am.
Because I know a lot of people are going to buy into this. A lot of people are going to say, “Well Villanueva is only 25 and Ben Gordon is going to add all kinds of scoring punch. We’re right back in this thing.” But you’re not. You’ve just added two mediocre players that don’t play defense. The consolation is that they don’t have cap crippling contracts. Congratulations, and have fun with the Charlie Villanueva Offensive Roller Coaster.