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Why did the Detroit Pistons waste so much money on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva?

Why did the Pistons waste a combined $95.7 million on 10 years of service from Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva?

That’s the question many have been asking since Joe Dumars signed the former Connecticut Huskies on the first day of free agency. The common meme: Gordon and Villanueva aren’t good enough to carry a team.

But that’s a straw man argument. Gordon and Villanueva were never supposed to carry the Pistons. They’re great additions – but just pieces of the puzzle. At least that’s the idea.

But in Detroit’s 98-75 win over Charlotte last night, with Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince still out with injuries, Villanueva and Gordon put the Pistons on their backs.

  • Villanueva: 30 points on 17 shots, four rebounds, two steals and a block.
  • Gordon: 22 points on 16 shots, eight assists, a steal and no turnovers.

I never expected them to carry the team, but it’s nice to know they can at times. When Prince and Hamilton return, this game is even more evidence the newcomers can play at  a high level.

And don’t say that it was just against Charlotte.

  • The Bobcats are a good defensive team. They entered the game fourth in the NBA in defensive rating. And you know Larry Brown teams will defend.
  • Gordon and Villanueva didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
  • TrueHoop Network bloggers predicted the Pistons and Bobcats would win the same number of games this year (36).

The Pistons don’t belong in the same conversation as the Bobcats. And Gordon and Villanueva shouldn’t be compared to Allan Houston and Jerome James.

I found it hilarious a common sentiment of the Gordon and Villanueva bashers before the season was, “Dumars excels at finding underrated players ready to break out. Gordon and Villanueva are already known as good players.” The obvious implication is that we know Gordon and Villanueva are good, but we also know they’re not good enough.

Really? How does that make any sense? Maybe Dumars saw more in them than most did. Isn’t that the point?

A few more games like this, and maybe a more people will get the point.


Will Bynum had two of the strongest dunks you’ll ever see from someone so small. Video from Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed:

Larry Lage of the Associated Press tweeted that Bynum would compete in the dunk contest if invited. How can we make that happen?

Hamilton won’t be back soon

Hamilton probably won’t make the Pistons upcoming West Coast trip, according to Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News. That would make his return Nov. 25 against Cleveland at the earliest.

Advanced statistics

Number in parentheses represent where the game’s rating would rank among NBA teams’ season totals.

Offensive rating: 120.4 (1st)

Defensive rating: 92.1 (2nd)

Pace: 81.4 (31st)


  • Nov 12, 20095:22 pm
    by oracle


    where on earth did you get that 95+ million figure?  most estimates are 55 at most for gordon, and 35 for charlie

  • Nov 12, 20097:40 pm
    by joejoe


    its 95 million darrel not  90

  • Nov 12, 20098:11 pm
    by Andrew


    Thank you, Dan, for highlighting that the Bobcats have an above-average defense. The Pistons played exemplary offense.

  • [...] Dan Feldman of PistonPowered rails against those who think Joe Dumars wasted the Pistons’ cap space on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. He [...]

  • Nov 13, 20094:35 pm
    by NewYorkDT


    Charlie V is legit. I’ve been following him since his high school days. The Pistons are lucky to have him. I enjoy keeping tabs on him on twitter and also this new site lockerblogger.com, which is pretty sick.

  • Nov 17, 20097:23 pm
    by mat


    “But that’s a straw man argument. Gordon and Villanueva were never supposed to carry the Pistons. They’re great additions – but just pieces of the puzzle”
    So who IS supposed to carry the Pistons?  When you commit a good chunk of your future payroll to 4 players (Prince, Hamilton, Gordon, Villanueva) you expect to have some franchise-level talent out of the core.  The Pistons are paying elite-level salaries for players that don’t appear to be elite.
    Of course, this may change… maybe CV and BG develop into that…anything is possible…but you’re not really refuting the claim of critics: that Joe D is paying too much for complementary players and putting the franchise out of position to acquire elite talent.  Theres 3 options: draft, free agency or trade.  By committing a lot of salary to complementary talent, the team is doomed to mediocrity.  A position where it can’t acquire franchise talent through either the draft or free agency leaving only the hopes of a trade.  Which may work, but its a strategy that limits the franchise’s options.

  • […] Over at PistonPowered.com the other day Dan Feldman showed me the light: […]

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