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Charlie Villanueva starting would be the best lineup option for the Detroit Pistons

After signing as a free agent last season, Charlie Villanueva had an up and down season to say the least. Painful injuries (broken nose and plantar fasciitis) severely limited his production in February and March, but it’s not like Villanueva’s season was without highlights:

  • In a five game stretch in November, Villanueva averaged 27 points and 6 rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field and 43 percent from three.
  • In a six game stretch in December, he averaged 19 points and 6 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.
  • In a five game stretch in January, he averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from three.
  • In a six game stretch in April, he averaged 15 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

Those 22 games (of the 78 he played in) represent more than a quarter of his season. The story with Villanueva has always been inconsistency, and last season was the perfect example — those above highlighted stretches of great offensive play were offset by 29 games in which Villanueva shot less than 30 percent, so despite those stretches of really good production, he still finished with either career lows or near career lows in points per game, rebounds per game, shooting percentage and minutes played.

Many Pistons fans grew frustrated with the inconsistency, particularly while he was struggling in February and March, and spent the offseason questioning the signing, so those fans ready to close the book on Villanueva probably weren’t super excited by this post by Keith Langlois entitled ‘Rarin’ to Go’ (brief sidebar: Seriously, someone needs to teach Pistons.com some Search Engine Optimization):

“That’s my mentality – to be a starter,” Villanueva said after a heavy workout Monday following a weekend spent celebrating his 26th birthday with friends and family. “But at the same time, I don’t want it to be given to me. I want to earn it. I believe I can be a starter in this league. I’ve done it before. When we get closer to training camp, I would like to sit down with (Kuester) and just share thoughts, expectations for my role, and just take it from there.”

At the risk of becoming the ‘lineup changes the Pistons will never consider‘ guy, I agree 100 percent that Villanueva should be the starting power forward next season.

From a skills standpoint, I love the diversity and unorthodox nature of Villanueva’s game. But him joining the starting lineup has less to do with what he can bring to the table (after all, he’ll have big scoring games whether he starts or comes of the bench) and more to do with what Ben Wallace brings to the lineup. A Villanueva-Wallace duo in the starting lineup offers much more balance than Wallace paired with incumbent starter Jonas Jerebko.

I’ve long believed that the two would compliment each other well. Here’s what I wrote last season on Full-Court Press:

Maybe if he’s (Villanueva) playing next to a guy (Wallace) with really good defensive instincts, he won’t have to worry as much about defense. If his guy gets inside him, Wallace is always there with help. It’s subtle, but it could take some pressure off.

That post was written when Villanueva was struggling and coach John Kuester had a quick hook for him, but the theory still holds true: Wallace’s greatest strengths are his defense, energy, his passing ability, offensive rebounding and ability to make cuts to the basket on offense. His greatest weaknesses are the ability to create his own shot and score. Villanueva’s greatest strength is his ability to score with a really diverse offensive repertoire. He struggles on defense with reaction time on help defense and holding his position against strong post players.

But it’s not just my OCD and weird need for pairing things up that make me crave a Villanueva/Wallace combo. When they were on the court together last season, the Pistons were actually a bit better offensively and defensively.

Here are some numbers with both on the floor (thanks to Dan Feldman and Basketball Value for compiling):

  • Minutes: 810.34
  • Pace: 88.4
  • Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions): 108.5
  • Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 109.5

Now compare to the overall numbers for the team for the season:

  • Pace: 88.5 (basically the same)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.6 (worse)
  • Defensive Rating: 111.4 (worse)

Playing Wallace big minutes with Jerebko seems redundant — they both do similar things (albeit Jerebko is not the rebounder, shot-blocker, defender or passer that Wallace is) by making hustle plays, bringing energy, getting on the offensive glass, etc. Also, neither is good at creating their own shot, so if Jerebko starts, the Pistons are starting two guys in the frontcourt who will not be a threat to score, allowing other teams to focus more attention on the team’s scoring options.

By all accounts, Villanueva has worked extremely hard to get in better shape this offseason. It remains to be seen whether that leads to a change in the all-or-nothing inconsistency he showed last season, but at the very least, even if his shot isn’t falling, teams have to guard him out to the three-point line and he will be able to take advantage of many defenders with his ability to post up.

Jerebko absolutely earned a key role on this year’s team after a productive rookie season, but moving him to the second unit allows him to play a Wallace-like role for however that group shakes out. He’d probably be paired in the frontcourt with a better offensive player (Greg Monroe), he’d have the advantage of going against second unit bigs who he could stand a better chance at guarding effectively than some of the starting caliber post players who are too strong for him and he’d be playing with a collection of guys who like to shoot but can also pass (Will Bynum, Ben Gordon and Tracy McGrady), giving him ample opportunity to crash the offensive glass and move without the ball for easy buckets.

As I’ve written numerous times, I haven’t given up on this collection of Pistons talent turning into a semi-decent outfit. There are legitimate question marks when it comes to health and rotation. I also have serious questions about whether or not John Kuester can mold his very traditional offensive system to fit guys like Villanueva, Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, Bynum and Monroe who all have non-traditional skills that don’t neatly fit into typical historical positional definitions.

Villanueva is paid like a starting player. He’s shown flashes of great productivity and versatility on offense. If he does the right things — and if this summer is any indication, he is doing the right things — and has a good camp, pairing him with Wallace in the starting lineup could simultaneously strengthen the first and second units.


  • Sep 1, 201012:09 am
    by Laser


    man, i’m not even going to bother trying to shake my reputation for negativity. it’ll never happen anyways. basically this is the ultimate no-brainer concept to any pistons fan that has a brain (see what i did there? i bet someone chimes in with a: “if it’s a no-brainer you don’t need a brain!” those people will not have seen what i did there.)
    so, uh, sure. in a perfect world villanueva starts. because if he’s in the starting lineup it means he’s being productive. and a productive villanueva (i can’t help but crack a wry smile just typing that) is good for business. we’re embarrassingly thin up front WITH him, so if he plays like he did last season we’re quite possibly looking at wilcox as a rotation staple. so, yes. suffice it to say we need him to contribute. and if he’s starting, you can bet he’s contributing (you saw kuester’s patience with him as a rookie coach; imagine how quick he gets the hook with a year under Q’s belt). and he pairs well with wallace (like a fine wine, one that jacks up ill-advised shots and plays no defense. ok maybe not so “fine,” but his skill set, when utilized, pairs better.). and we’re paying him like 30 million bucks for the next four years. so ideally he starts.
    you get the idea. i recognize that there’s nothing GOOD to focus on, so we have to suffer rather obvious headlines. or you could let me write a scathing op-ed (on the house!) to spice things up a little bit. the choice is yours.

  • Sep 1, 201012:15 am
    by Laser


    come to think of it, in other words: the headline is true because of how grim the inverse would be. “charlie villanueva continuing to come off the bench would be the worst lineup option for the pistons,” because if he’s not playing well enough to start (especially after all the noise about his summer) he’ll probably never bounce back. the competition is so thin it’s a joke, and all parties involved should be embarrassed if that guy can’t start on this team.
    also, let’s never assume he’ll produce. because if he delivers an encore performance of last year we would be insane to continue trotting him out. we’d be better off eating the contract and turning him into glue.

  • Sep 1, 201012:25 am
    by The Rake


    I completely agree with this conceptually. Obviously CV needs to earn it.  But JJ and BWall are indeed redundant on the court.  That being said, CV’s defensive lapses/liability were what prevented him from being on the floor more in the first place. If CV hustles, plays D, rebounds, he’ll be on the floor and able to score.  If that is starting next to Wallace becuz he is doing all those things, then we are better for it.  Also agree with how JJ might mesh better with that 2nd unit.  Also, who in the hell will pay ANY D from that second unit?  Almost have to use JJ there in principle on that.

  • Sep 1, 201012:29 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    His pre-injury production wasn’t bad. February and March were brutal months, and those coincided with both injuries. He wasn’t far off his career averages November-January. Not that that’s great production, but based on his body of work, about 15 and 7 is about the absolute best anyone can hope for.

    And in today’s NBA, if he gets 15 and 7, he’s actually not what I would consider egregiously overpaid considering that he’s also 6-10. I mean, Johan Petro is getting like $3.5 million a year.

    V is a scorer, and he’s not going to develop into anything else, but if the Pistons can put him in the best position to score points, he has value. As I said, based on Kuester’s offense, I’m skeptical, but a more creative (read: better) coach could find a way to effectively use Villanueva’s skillset.

  • Sep 1, 201012:31 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    @The Rake:

    Something I neglected to point out in the post: sometimes, playing next to a high energy guy is infectious. So putting a lower energy player like Villanueva next to the definition of a high energy and prideful player like Wallace might entice V to play with more hustle than he would if, say, he were seeing most of his minutes next to someone like Greg Monroe or (God I hope not) Chris Wilcox.

  • Sep 1, 20101:04 am
    by nuetes


    well i can’t say either patrick or laser are wrong here. i do believe, as i stated in the monroe article, that villanueva should be starting with wallace. but leave it to laser to state the obvious. if villanueva is starting it means he’s productive, which means he deserves to be starting, which is all good. you can’t just start villanueva because it’s a good combo, he has to produce out there as well. patrick shows faith in the offseason program CV underwent, and i would agree with that. i’m expecting CV to be a more productive player in every aspect of his game. that may be some high expectations but he has put in the work, which is not something you can say for every piston. he spent the summer with kander, who we all have faith in, so let’s see what he can do.
    on another note. how about arnie kander? why wasn’t daye or gordon or anyone else spending their summers with this guy? if CV shows any kind of remarkable improvement i’m going to have to question why every other piston wasn’t just as invested as he was in improving. i get that guys have their own ways of training and probably hire their own trainers, but from what i’ve read the drills kander comes up with seem like they would really help. why would you not want to work with the best?

  • Sep 1, 20101:21 am
    by Laser


    @patrick: the problem isn’t the 15 and 7; it’s what the opposing PF produces, which could realistically be twice that in a great many matchups. the problem with V is that he needs to be scoring LIKE AN ANIMAL, knocking down threes like it’s nothing, carrying the offense for long stretches. basically, if he’s not among the very best offensive players on the floor, he’s surely the most useless guy out there.
    i’ll admit he played decent in stretches, but it wasn’t close to enough. i never refuted that, but he plays a rare and truly special brand of defense. just the worst defense you’ve ever seen. doing absolutely nothing to put a body on his man, letting people blow by him on the reg, and when he finally gets tired of that, the occasional (well, semi-regular) flagrant foul.
    if he’s a brand new man, he starts and i’m pleasantly surprised. but i’ll believe it when i see it.
    @nuetes: nobody was as invested as charlie was in improving because nobody had one of the most disappointing full seasons in the history of the league (ok, so collectively they all did, but not individually). he was an embarrassment to the organization, to joe dumars (like joe needed that), to fans and pistons staff, to anyone who’s ever worn the uniform, you get the idea. he was a walking embarrassment. the good news is that apparently he finally caught a bit of the embarrassment bug and decided to have some pride. so he put in a lot of work. nba players are spoiled millionaires who only work for half the year, so you can bet most of them could give a damn about taking a big step forward at the expense of a lengthy vacation. charlie was a special case. and we’ll have to see if all the hard work pays off. i respect your optimism that he’ll be a brand news man, but i’m not holding my breath. if he comes back and stinks up the place, arnie’s going to have a lot of free time next summer.
    and as a side note, stuckey did a lot of crap this summer too, but none of it seemed to be focused on his areas of greatest need. he boxed and lost some weight. big deal. i would have rather seen him play in the summer league to brush up on his playmaking and decision making or work on that in any way imaginable.

  • Sep 1, 20102:19 am
    by Tom Y.


    The only thing that worries me about this plan is that with Ben and CV starting, and JJ and Max as the only additional bench players (Wilcox doesn’t count for anything), Monroe would be pushed into playing center for most of his minutes. I guess that might work out, at least on offense, but not so sure about defense.
    Then again I guess when you’re very short on centers there’s not many ways you can hide it…

  • Sep 1, 20103:09 am
    by gmehl1977


    I totally agree that CV & Wallace start and JJ & Monroe are paired together off the bench (i actually mention this first in last story). However i really think Kuester has to tweak his offense to make this whole thing work better. As much as it isn’t pistons basketball, if Mike D’Antoni coached the pistons then this team would at least be exciting and i feel would make the playoffs. Run and gun would work quite well with all the long armed SF we have on the roster like Prince & Daye. Stuckey & Bynum would definately excel with a quicker pace. The long range shooters like CV and Gordon would love it as there would be more shots to be had with a faster pace. You would think with his great passing and court vision Monroe would excel too and then you have your hustle players like Wallace and JJ getting the boards. Hamilton once again is the odd man out with this kind of system. Having said all this we wouldn’t be able to defend anyone as we have all seen what happens to the Suns but at least it would put bums in seats and i am pretty sure Dumars (as long as he is breathing) would never let as play that style.

  • Sep 1, 20107:09 am
    by tads


    I wonder what CV’s relationship with Kuester is like.  My guess is that Q is for the most part done with him.  It seemed like he was at the end of the season, and Q surely gave him a very stern “This is what you need to be doing in November, period.”  kind of talk and sort of left him the summer to figure out how to get there.
    Now that Joe D, Keith Langlois, Arnie Kander, everybody else is talking about how much this guy has developed, etc., etc. I wonder why you won’t find many quotes from the actual coach, or coaching staff, about CV this year.  My guess is Q is over it, and will not hesitate to put CV back on the bench as he was all season unless he comes back ready to give his all on both ends of the floor all game long.  If CV is the kind of guy who, when faced with challenges, looks to talk his way out of it, or sneak through without really working hard, then I can see him living on Kuester’s shit list forever.  Wouldn’t you be pissed if your player sat around telling the media that HE is going to sit down with YOU, the coach, and have a discussion about role and expectations?  It seems to me that CV would do best by being humble and saying things like “I’ll do whatever to help the team win, and I plan to play wherever coach wants me to play.
    I just hope that if/when he does sit, Joe D stays out of it and lets Kuester do his thing.  If CV comes back sitting on the bench you know he will be cranky and want to vent somewhere, like when he ran to the media last year.  Why wouldn’t he go to the front office with his complaints?  It is better for the team, IMO if he sits and learns some humility than for him to get the nod start without earning it (i.e. consistent rebounding and defense, along with intelligent decision making and shot selection), just because it makes sense positionally.

  • Sep 1, 20108:42 am
    by koz


    At 26, cv should be coming into his prime. He’s got the talent to play at any level he wants, he just has to want it. And of course stay injury free.

  • Sep 1, 20109:49 am
    by brgulker


    <blockquote>Also, neither is good at creating their own shot, so if Jerebko starts, the Pistons are starting two guys in the frontcourt who will not be a threat to score, allowing other teams to focus more attention on the team’s scoring options.</blockquote>
    I don’t agree. I think Jonas made some excellent strides in terms of creating his own shot off the dribble in the second half of last season. If that continues over the next 1-2 seasons, he’ll be just as good at that part of the game as Tay has been (or at least comparable).
    Furthermore, getting an offensive rebound and putting it back is just as much “creating a shot” as scoring off the dribble. Yet, it’s usually ignored in these types of conversations.
    To your argument generally, I think you’ve made some great arguments with some very solid analysis. Kudos, Patrick (and Dan). Very well done.
    However, I don’t think Charlie V should start unless it’s clear that he’s outplaying JJ. If he is, start him. If he’s not, don’t. My reasoning in Kuester’s position would be this: at this point in the franchise rebuild (and we’re rebuilding regardless of how the Pistons want to spin it to fans), I wouldn’t be worried about who complements whom first and foremost, but rather who’s playing the brand of basketball that we want to play moving forward.
    I agree that Charlie had some very nice spurts last season. But even in those spurts, it was all about points and very little about defense or rebounding. Honestly, 5, 6, 7 rebounds a game from a starting PF who’s nearly seven feet tall? Gotta do better.
    That said, if we move Tay, I’m all about going with a JJ – Charlie V – Big Ben starting frontcourt. I think that would make all kinds of sense.

  • Sep 1, 20109:53 am
    by brgulker


    Whoa, sorry for the wonky formatting. Not sure what happened there…

  • Sep 1, 201010:21 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    I agree. Kander is a major asset, and it seems like with so many young or unproven players, he’d have players beating down his door all offseason.

  • Sep 1, 201010:26 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    He’s not a good defensive player, but he wasn’t even close to the worst defender on the team last season. He’s defensive rating of 110 isn’t good, but by comparison, it was much better than Jerebko’s, Prince’s or Hamilton’s, three guys pretty universally regarded as at least adequate defensively.

    Villanueva’s issue on D is lateral quickness. He’s slow to react and often out of position. But he’s strong and he doesn’t give up position on the block. And if his offensive skills are any indication, he does have the athleticism to at least be a serviceable defensive player, something that playing with Ben Wallace more might help with.

  • Sep 1, 201010:28 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    @Tom Y:

    Monroe playing on the second unit against the other teams’ backup center is less worrisome to me than if he were starting at center as a rookie. It’s still likely going to take some time for him to adjust to the strength of NBA bigs, but right now, I don’t think there are many second unit bigs who are significantly better than Monroe.

  • Sep 1, 201010:31 am
    by Pratik Narula


    I think that CV and Wallace would be a great option, but I also feel that Greg Monroe is going to prove some big things in training camp, i like the roster that we have currently we basically have two teams.
    1. Rodney 2. Hamilton 3. Prince 4. CV 5. Ben W.
    2nd team: 1. Will Bynum 2. Ben Gordon 3. TMac 4. JJ 5. G. Monroe
    reserves: D. Summers, A. Daye, C. Wilcox, J. Maxiell
    Look for the 2nd team to really challenge the 1st team for starting spots, especially Monroe, Will Bynum and possibly even Tracy Mcgrady, I think we are at the point where Rip and Prince really shouldn’t be considered as probable starters, along with stuckey, all spots should be EARNED in training camp. I would love to c Monroe’s scoring ability and length b matched up with Wallace’s defensive skills, that makes us really really big in the front court.
    1. Rodney Stuckey 2. Richard Hamilton 3. Tracy Mcgrady 4. Ben Wallace 5. Greg Monroe
    And you never know CV could still play the starting 4, B. Wallace is on the pistons roster for maybe 1 mre year after this one, why start him? Just because he was once a great starter when we won the championship and then he chose to move on? I mean Rasheed didn’t start for Boston until K. Perkins got injured for game 7 in the finals. Again, this is a wonderful problem for coach Kuester, lets c what decision he makes at the end of training camp. I’m excited to see what happens!

  • Sep 1, 201010:31 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    The frustrating thing, to me, about the offense is that whenever I write something like “the Pistons should play at a faster pace,” I immediately get comments from people who say, “But that’s not Pistons basketball!”

    Faster pace to me doesn’t mean become the Phoenix Suns. It just means don’t be in the bottom two in the league in pace. Still stress defense. Still stress executing in the halfcourt offense. But while doing those things, pick spots to run more often. Play with the lineups and put guys on the floor who will do nothing but run for 10 or 15 minutes a game. Put pressure on the opposing defense by pulling the ball out of the basket and running it up the court once in a while. I’d be satisfied if they had like five or six more possessions per game. Baby steps.

  • Sep 1, 201010:33 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    If Kuester is “done with him” as you say, I don’t think that bodes well for Kuester’s future with the team. Joe Dumars has shown that he frequently will side with the players over the coach (disagreements between players and coaches are largely the reason Saunders and Curry are gone).

    Villanueva was a prized free agent signing just a season ago. If a first-time head coach coming off of a lousy season tells Dumars that he’s “done” with that player, I would think Kuester would be in search of another job soon.

  • Sep 1, 201010:35 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    He has a skillset on offense that few bigs in the league can match, and unlike some stretch 4s (Rashard Lewis, I’m looking at you), Villanueva has the strength and size to be a much better rebounder than he’s shown. As you said, he just has to show the desire to get better, so hopefully the accounts of the work he’s been doing this offseason are true.

  • Sep 1, 201010:41 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    Of course offensive rebounds are creating shots. What I mean, though, is that if Wallace or Jerebko has the ball in their hands anywhere but right around the basket, the defense is not going to pay much attention to either one. They certainly have to account for them on the offensive glass, but I think if the Pistons have an into it Villanueva on the court, because of his ability to shoot, post up and put the ball on the floor, he not only makes the defense have to account for him no matter where he’s at, but he could potentially create better spacing for Stuckey/Hamilton/Prince to operate.

    As you said, the job shouldn’t be handed to him, but if he has a good camp, he could be a big weapon for the Pistons.

    As far as Jerebko’s offense, I think he has tools to become better. He’s long, finishes relatively well and has range, although his jumper was pretty inconsistent last year. But as any raw young player does, Jerebko has a tendency to be too aggressive on offense and makes poor decisions.

    I like the Prince comparison, but he has a lot of work to do to play with the intelligence and control that Prince has exhibited in his career.

  • Sep 1, 201010:46 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    I agree entirely with your take. I think even Laser could get excited about this aspect of the team: mismatched roster or not, the Pistons have a good mix of veterans coming off injuries looking to prove they are not washed up, of young players hungry for more playing time and young veterans who had poor seasons looking to prove that the team’s investment in them wasn’t a mistake.

    At the very least, training camp and the preseason should be fun. The only two guys I’d definitely pencil in as starters right now are Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. Bynum and Stuckey should have a nice battle for the PG spot, even though T-Mac says he’d be fine coming off the bench, I can’t see him ceding that spot to Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon has always wanted to start dating back to his days coming off Chicago’s bench and Jonas Jerebko surely doesn’t want to lose his starting spot after improbably winning the job last season.

    I think the PF, SG and PG spots are legitimately up for grabs whether the team will admit that or not.

  • Sep 1, 201011:01 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    Just found this from the Freep:


    In fairness about our Arnie Kander conversation, it appears Gordon and Monroe, as well as McGrady since he’s signed, have been working with Arnie this summer along with Charlie V.

  • Sep 1, 201012:40 pm
    by Alan


    The NBA is full of ham&eggers and Charlie V is the posterchild.  This is a kid who, basically, was the best player in the nation coming out of highschool and got a full ride to UConn.  Four years later, he was still one of the best players coming out of college and was a lottery pick, bounced around in the NBA and managed a lucrative contract from the Detroit Pistons.  All this while doing the absolute bare minimum – textbook ham & egger – this guy has never lifted a finger in his life.

    So the guy stays in Detroit and works out for 3 months, this is probably the first time he’s ever put in anything close to extra work in his life.  It’s going to take more than one summer of weight lifting to turn him into a starter – if that’s even possible (which I think is possible).  That said, he’s got the higher ceiling between he and Jerebko.  He also gets paid more and is under contract for longer so, business-wise it behooves Detroit to reward this 3-months of workout with a starting position.  Monroe could take it from him at some point but it’s an awful lot to put on a rookie to earn a starting rotation.   Maxiel isn’t a starter and Wilcox is worthless (except in Adam’s mind).

    I think Charlie V starts the season @ PF but that doesn’t meen he holds onto it – he hasn’t earned it.  Now, if 3-months of extra work turns into a full season of extra work and next offseason too, Charlie V might just turn into a starter that has EARNED the position.

  • Sep 1, 20103:10 pm
    by Laser


    @tom y: uh, WTF does a charlie-ben starting frontcourt have to do with monroe playing most (or all) of his minutes at center? what other option do we have? and what does who we start have to do with it? monroe and maxiell are the only other guys who could play the position. you weren’t considering cv playing any minutes at center, were you?!?!?
    @hayes: i’m not too preoccupied with team stats like +/-. they can be useful to an extent, but there are so many factors involved that those stats are unreliable indicators of individual performance. it takes a wild outlier to really open my eyes about one guy’s performance. i’ve watched the guy play, and he doesn’t pass the eye test. i’ve never seen him execute a single impressive defensive sequence, and more often than not he was flat-footed and got blown by. i don’t think his lateral quickness was ever as much of a problem as his general disinterest and lack of passion.
    and about this “faster pace” business, stuckey’s been talking for two years straight about how he wants to speed up the pace, dumars and his coaches have told him one thing consistently and constantly: “be aggressive.” and yet, we continue to slog along in the most anemic, stagnant, impotent offense. so, uh, that must mean it’ll probably suddenly start happening this season. just like the massive leap forward from stuckey that we’ve been patiently anticipating forever. let’s hold our breath for these things, which have shown no signs of progression whatsoever, to start happening out of absolutely nowhere.
    and as for the competition of hungry players for minutes, i don’t buy this as a positive thing. keith langlois will say it’s a good problem to have, but we’ve had every “good” problem in the book for the past two years, and those little minor blessings have added up to two miserable seasons full of BAD problems. the competition for our starting 4 is wide open, but i think that’s where it stops cold. i don’t think anyone has the sense to elevate bynum, though i think it would be an upgrade in every way that matters. and you can bet your ass whoever wants the 2, 3 and 5 starting jobs will have to pry them from our veterans’ cold, dead hands.
    @pratik: very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very obviously tayshaun and rip should absolutely be considered probable starters. everyone on this team earns his role and minutes except rip and stuckey (i don’t want to insult tayshaun by including him in this list; as long as he’s around he’s our best option at SF by a wide margin).

  • Sep 1, 20105:28 pm
    by tads


    I know that if Kuester is “done” with CV and Dumars thinks he should start, in the past that might mean Dumars would be planning for Kuester’s replacement.  Given Dumars recent lack of success and a new owner who may or may not interpret this performance as “retooling”, Dumars might not have the clout to get Kuester replaced.  I am hoping that Kuester and CV do not come to some quick answer to this dilemma, but instead sit with the tension caused by the differences in what the two think should happen on the court, and Joe D doesn’t do anything to intervene.  Aside from what it means for the pistons, it sounds like what he needs as a human being.  Someone who isn’t going to stand for less than what’s expected.
    Side note, JJ is the perfect guy for him to be battling against, he hustles, and he is always consistently intense, and he tells the other players to play harder.  If CV improves to the point that he can beat out JJ in these areas and maintains his offensive game, he could be an all-star.  Until he does actually beat JJ, he needs to keep his sweats on.

  • Sep 1, 20106:35 pm
    by detroitpcb


    Patrick, what i noticed often last year is that Ben is a slow starter these days. He needs to get loose, before he begins playing with the energy that he is known for bringing.  I wonder if that would impact CV? If it woulod “rub off” and he also would become a slow starter? Because the real key for the first unit is rebounding. And rebounding is about effort and awareness.

  • Sep 1, 20108:10 pm
    by Laser


    sorry, i was going to leave this alone, but apparently it’s an issue for some reason…
    kuester is not “done” with charlie v. charlie was in the dog house, for clear and justified reasons. he’s worked on his deficiencies this summer and will be given another chance. stop discussing it. there’s nothing to discuss. 1) charlie is paid much more than kuester and is under contract for much longer. a contract that has no possibility of being moved if kuester is “done” with charlie. 2) everyone knows a productive charlie is good for the team. 3) i think joe pretty much lets his coaches run the team. he’s quick to give them the ax, but he’s not going to mettle and get involved with coaching duties. 4) this is not that analogous to the rip-curry situation that in large part cost curry his job. rip got benched because curry knew iverson wouldn’t have it, and that wasn’t *entirely* fair to rip, because it was not a decision based on merit. charlie got benched because he STINKS. it was very much based on merit, so if he’s an adult he understands and is willing to move on. he wasn’t ready to face that last season, but obviously he took to heart with the work he put in this summer. he didn’t sulk and badmouth the coach, he put his head down and went to the gym. charlie certainly wins the tie if the competition for starting PF results in a virtual tie. that’s all you need to know. the team’s committed to him. he’ll get another chance. there are like 30 million dollars– er, reasons why he’ll get a chance. for now. if he loses the job again there could be a problem. but for now, please let that be the end of it and move on to topics that are debatable. thanks, love you!

  • Sep 1, 201010:09 pm
    by gmehl1977


    Back on the subject about game pace, i totally agree that this team only needs to up the tempo so we aren’t the 2nd slowest paced offense. I feel this team which runs most of its offense for Rip is clearly at a cross road and if like all the rumors about Rip being up for trade then something needs to change. The players we have on this team i feel were definately better than last seasons dismal record. Last seasons offense seemed to play half the players into a bad funk by watching Rip cut and curl through a million screens before launching a mid range jumper. As you said, maybe not a phoenix suns paced offense but something a little faster and more equal opportunity for all the other guys on the floor.
    Surely you have to figure that Dumars and Kuestner would of discussed what direction the team is going (in terms of offence etc) so Joe has a fair idea of what players he can trade for. This team as it stands has the wrong type of players for the offense Kuestner is running and i sincerely hope he and Joe have discussed this in the offseason. I am no sure who mentioned it but with Monroe on this team maybe we could run an offense similar to the ‘Chris Webber/Vlade Divac’ Sacremeto Kings.

  • Sep 1, 201010:44 pm
    by nuetes


    game pace – the pistons have a larry brown disciple as a head coach. does anyone really think they are picking up the pace any time soon? and stuckey keeps complaining about picking up the pace, well then why doesn’t he push the ball up the court? the pistons will continue to play molasses ball because that is what they do.
    kuester – i have no idea what offense he is running. i don’t think offense is the problem, because like larry brown, i don’t think kuester puts a high value on scoring. they want stops. problem is the pistons don’t have the personnel to make stops happen. the slow pace is a design because not only does it limit the pistons offensive touches, it also limits the opposing team’s offensive touches. the flaw in this is the pistons need better rebounders to create more touches for themselves. when you play a style of basketball that limits touches every additional one matters. they also need guys that can force turnovers and defend better resulting in higher difficulty shots, which result in more rebounds to be had. in short they don’t have the personnel to play this type of basketball, but that isn’t stopping them.

  • Sep 1, 201011:52 pm
    by Laser


    @gmehl: i have no doubt they discuss the team and various possibilities, and i’m sure joe gives his 2 cents, because it’s his mess that kuester’s going to be mopping back and forth all season. i just don’t see dumars mettling. he hired kuester for a reason. joe doesn’t want to coach or he’d be the coach. i can’t imagine him foisting anything on kuester aside from the team itself.
    and you touched on something important to remember. to paraphrase: “the players we have are better than our 27-55 record.” you’re technically right, because i think there is a lot of talent on the team. if each of these guys were judged on individual merit and that’s what determined our record, we’d certainly be above .500, because i’m confident we have at minimum an average amount of talent on the team. but when you put it all together it’s like a sandwich made of peanut butter, eggs, chocolate and a turd (the turd was charlie!), also instead of bread it’s held together with mint flavored dental floss, so little bits get all over your hand and it’s impossible to eat. to put it another way, our team was (MUCH, MUCH) less than the sum of its parts. also known as a “bad team.” all of our depth was at a handful of positions, the least crucial positions in today’s nba (the wings). and the positions where we were an embarrassment were the most crucial ones (the point and big men). it’s sort of like when iverson was here and our starting lineup was stuckey, rip, iverson, tayshaun and sheed. five great tastes that taste like sh*t together (ok, maybe not all great, but you get the idea). your top four perimeter players play two positions for crying out loud! and we’ve had the same problem ever since. so yeah, the players themselves are absolutely better than the nightmare we’re living, but the team is not. 28+ wins is no guarantee.
    @nuetes: yeah, stuckey talks a big game about all these changes, but nothing changes. i don’t see the team picking up the pace any time soon, but we have a lot of guys who would fit a quicker system and a few major rotation players who don’t fit that pace at all.
    also, did you happen to notice last season how often we collapsed on dribble penetration and yielded wide open threes from known 3-point threats because we had five bodies with at least a toe in the paint? it was astounding, and it happened over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. it never stopped. it’s like the team’s mindset on offense AND defense was that when you penetrate you must always put up a shot. it’s a bad philosophy both ways, and i think no matter how good or bad your individual players are defensively, you can’t win with such a staunch, religious commitment to leaving three point shooters open at the first sign of penetration. it’s maddening.

  • Sep 2, 201012:00 am
    by Laser


    to add to my second paragraph: similarly, if teams were judged on 15-man depth, as opposed to the rotation they use, we’d have one of the better teams in the league. as it is, we could field two entire separate lineups that could be perfectly reasonable (bynum/rip/tay/cv/big ben, stuckey/gordon/t-mac/jj/monroe), but there’s just plain not enough minutes for all ten of these guys in an nba game, let alone the rest of the team. and even the guys who have an outside shot at cracking the rotation *could* conceivably comprise a team that might actually be respectable. i wouldn’t be surprised at all if our “third unit” (white/daye/summers/max/wilcox) was one of the better lineups in the league of players who are 11-15 on the depth chart. but that does us no good. the absurd amount of depth we have (and specifically WHERE we have it) is a bad thing for the team. count on that.

  • Sep 2, 20104:03 am
    by Tom Y.


    If it’s a given that Ben starts at center, the best way for Monroe to play significant minutes at PF would be starting beside him. Coming off the bench he would likely play more minutes with JJ and maybe Max (who admittedly can defend some centers, maybe better than Monroe).
    I wasn’t saying we have a better option, just that I was a little worried about it because I think Monroe is better suited to playing mostly PF right now. But I do accept what Patrick Hayes said about Monroe playing 2nd unit centers. So guess it’s ok. I’d mostly like to see him playing some minutes with Ben in the frontcourt, I think it could work really well.

  • Sep 2, 201011:16 am
    by Laser


    yeah, you’re almost certainly right about monroe being better off playing PF, but we’re short on options. if you move max into the  depth chart at backup center, you’re looking at a 3-way logjam at PF between jonas, charlie and monroe, and you have a rotation of 11 guys at minimum (12 if you want austin daye to play at all).
    and monroe wouldn’t be the only guy who was playing at least somewhat out of position. max has shown he can hold his own at center for stretches, but he’s underiszed for a PF; stuckey isn’t a bad player, but he’s a poor PG; and with all these perimeter players, trying to develop rotations for these guys means we’re sure to see odd combinations like gordon or t-mac or prince at the point. stuff like that. so, yes, it’s not ideal. but playing everyone at their natural positions isn’t a luxury you can afford when your team is this badly mismatched.

  • Sep 2, 201012:41 pm
    by nuetes


    like laser said it’s pretty self explanatory just by looking at the roster. monroe has to play center, and he has to backup ben wallace, because ben is going to start. we have villanueva and jerebko to play PF, and while that position could certainly use an upgrade, you can’t do it at the expense of another position. playing monroe at PF leaves the cupboard pretty bare behind wallace. thing is we really have no idea about what the organization feels monroe is best suited to be moving forward. i would like him to play PF in the future, and from other fan sentiments it looks like most people would agree with that, but maybe the organization feels he’s the center of the future.

  • Sep 2, 201011:28 pm
    by kent


    I completely agree that Villanueva and Wallace is better than Jerebko and Wallace.  JJ and Ben coupled with a mediocre defensive front court arent good enough defensively to compensate for their lack of offensive production.  It’s always 4 on 5 with Ben on the offensive end, and JJ is only reliable for garbage scoring.  On a good night, Wallace can get some garbage offensive production.  You want your garbage scorer to be your 5th option on the floor, not your 4th AND 5th option.

    If Jerebko moves to the second unit with Bynum, Gordon, McGrady and Monroe, the defense wont be as terrible as it would be with Villanueva.  The second unit will still be very capable of scoring.

    Patrick is right.  Villanueva and Wallace need to play together to compensate for each other’s weaknesses. 

  • Sep 2, 201011:33 pm
    by kent


    Let me disagree with myself.  I think Stuckey, Rip and Tayshaun is an above average BACK court, not a mediocre front court.  However, that defensive lineup simply wont score enough to win games. 

  • [...] Piston Powered makes the case for starting Villanueva at PF (and it’s a pretty good case), but even if he starts, he’ll be squeezed for minutes because Jonas Jerebko has emerged as a legitimate NBA player. The 23-year old Swede quickly became the Pistons starting PF last season because, as The Detroit news’ Vincent Goodwill puts it, he has a hot motor. [...]

  • Sep 3, 20102:14 pm
    by Laser


    1) i swear to god you people are talking about jonas like he’s kwame freaking brown on offense! the guy put up 9.3 points in 27.9 minutes on .481 shooting and is at least a threat from long distance. that looks pretty much like your average 4th option. and as for efficiency, charlie hustle (with 931 total points last season on 827 shots) scored 1.126 points per FGA, and jonas (741 points on 603 FGA) gave us 1.229 points per FGA. add to that his defense, motor and knack for being in the right place at the right time, and you’ve got a solid argument for jonas. i also think people treat garbage men like garbage. a basketball team made entirely of spoiled millionaires jacking up shots won’t go far. you need people who are willing to do the dirty work (your luis scolas, ron artests, chris “birdman” andersens), and these guys are basically fourth options.
    also you can’t possibly be taken seriously without adding the crucial caveat that charlie’s got to produce in order for any argument in his favor to be valid. if he looks anything like he did last season he has no business taking the floor, let alone starting over a good player. the spirit of this article isn’t that charlie should be handed the job no matter what his production is like. nobody could rightly argue that charlie’s ceiling isn’t higher, but he’s got to be better this season to earn the job.
    2) your argument about jonas’s defense not being sufficient to compensate for his offense (which, as you can see above, is more efficient than charlie’s) is the same one i use for bynum starting. stuckey’s defense just isn’t nearly enough to compensate for his abysmal point play. and when they go to the bench, bynum and gordon are going to have to be awfully effective on offense to compensate for their physical shortcomings. on the other hand, i think either combination of bynum-rip or stuckey-gordon is at worst an average backcourt tandem.
    perhaps our starting perimeter players are average, but IMO that’s because you’re including tayshaun. his playmaking, decision making and versatility can compensate for a lot. he can guard the other team’s best perimeter player, he can score in bunches, spread the floor some, run the point. but if we’re looking just at the guards, i think rip and stuckey have had sufficient time to prove that they are a below average tandem.

  • Sep 3, 201011:20 pm
    by kent



    i love JJ, and i dont underestimate the value of garbage scorers.  Although it sounds like an insult, it’s actually a compliment when you can do it reliably.  The problem is that you can’t run plays for Jonas, and you definitely can’t run plays for Wallace.  Wallace is good for the occasional put-back or alley-oop (although his hops have diminished somewhat with age), and that’s about it offensively.  When you have a below average passing point guard, you simply can’t limit him to Rip and Tayshaun for scoring options.  Tayshaun was the 4th option when the pistons were good.

    Although you provided offensive efficiency numbers that you say prove otherwise, we shouldnt pull a Hollinger and get blinded by statistics while ignoring what most people can see from watching the games: Villanueva is much more talented offensively and he gives the Pistons more scoring options.  JJ can give you reliable energy and rebounding, but Villanueva opens up more possibilities in the half-court, which has been Detroit’s game for as long as i can remember.  The problem with Villanueva is that he sucks on the other end, which is why i want to pair him with Wallace.

    No matter what, every team in the league could score with ease against a second unit consisting of Bynum, Gordon, McGrady, Villanueva and Monroe.  If this were hockey, they’d allow 2 goals per shift.

    I’m willing to entertain starting Bynum over Stuckey like you said.  Gordon and Bynum together are too small and are a liability on the defensive end.  

  • Sep 6, 20108:37 pm
    by Laser


    trust me on this: i don’t put blind faith in statistics, and i don’t look at anything in a vacuum. but we’re not talking about obscure, esoteric stats here. or stats that muddy the waters between individual merit and what the team was doing as a whole. we’re talking about how many shots they took and now many points they resulted in. pretty basic stuff, and when jonas (who, as you agreed, gets no plays run for him) put up a shot, it netted more points than when charlie hustle did.
    charlie has more ways of scoring, but he also has worse shot selection and worse results from a scoring standpoint. he’s capable of better than he did last year, but he’s got to come out and prove he deserves to play before we throw him out there. i don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing not to run plays for a guy and have him still average ten points. and jonas is just so much better at all the things we need from charlie hustle. it’s not exactly a “luxury” to choose to (have to?) run plays for a guy who’s supposed to be a scorer and offers nothing else, yet shoots below your already bad team average.
    jonas has shown the ability to play one-on-one, he can stretch the floor some and shoot some three. but he can also shot fake and drive. he doesn’t make foolish plays with the ball. and even though i’ll concede that his ceiling might not be terribly high, but he has plenty of room for improvement. it would be silly to discount that because some other guy has a higher ceiling but refuses to exert the energy necessary to reach it.
    if charlie hustle was as good as he should be on the offensive end, you might be able to convince me that it makes sense to live with his defensive deficiencies. but he’s got to prove himself. he was our worst player last season. a free agent “prize” with a rich, long-term contract who couldn’t establish a consistent role in the worst frontcourt the NBA has seen in a long time.
    amen on gordon and bynum. this doesn’t take a genius. part of me thinks the team might actually make that switch just because it’ll mean stuckey’s a bench player and could get extended at a discount. god knows they’re not going to make the move just because it makes sense on every level imaginable. i’m not really holding out hope that they let him go (dumars is too stubborn for that), but as long as they extend him for a reasonable price it won’t bother me. nothing more than the midlevel exception.

  • [...] Charlie Villanueva starting would be the best lineup option for the Detroit Pistons – PistonPo… [...]

  • [...] similares que hacen el trabajo sucio, aportan energía y centran sus esfuerzos en la defensa. Hay quien piensa que el equipo estaría más equilibrado si Villanueva, mucho mejor atacante e infinitamente peor [...]

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