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Has the Pistons’ history made adjusting to life in Detroit more difficult on Charlie Villanueva than it needed to be?

This may qualify as shameless self promotion, but hey, what are blogs for?

My first contribution to SLAM! is online now, and it discusses Charlie Villanueva. Here’s an excerpt:

Leave it to a sports talk radio personality to be a loudmouth, but the first question Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva fielded on media day spoke for a lot of Pistons fans, even if it did so in a less than tactful manner.

“What do you say to people who think you’re soft?” the reporter asked. Villanueva, taken aback slightly by the bluntness of the question, fought back whatever emotion he was feeling. Resisting the urge to react in the defensive, he gave the diplomatic and even-keeled response we’ve grown to expect from Charlie V, one of the most accessible players in the NBA.

But that niceness might be the root of the reason Charlie V has not been embraced by fans the way a young high profile free-agent signing is expected to be. Villanueva signed a contract that will pay him in excess of $7 million a year to play the frontcourt in Detroit for the next five years. Legendary Pistons like Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, Corliss Williamson, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace have manned that position over the years. And let’s face it — as funny as it would be to see the reaction, no reporter would dare ask any of those guys about being soft.

Basically, the premise is that Villanueva is pretty much the opposite of every successful big man the Pistons have had in the last 30 years or so. Playing power forward/center in Detroit inevitably will bring comparisons and there’s definitely an expectation for a blue-collar style of play for anyone manning those spots as a Piston. I also toss out a couple of perhaps better former Pistons to compare Villanueva to.

Check it out if you’re so inclined and feel free to leave thoughts here or at SLAM! if you’re so inclined.

13 Comments

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PistonPowered Feed, Patrick Hayes. Patrick Hayes said: Has the Pistons history made adjusting to life in Detroit more difficult on Charlie Villanueva than it needed to b… http://bit.ly/aeI6M5 [...]

  • Oct 13, 20105:16 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    good article Patrick. The comparison with Terry Mills is interesting and something that had not crossed my mind. It may be an apt comparison. But Chris Webber is right, CV is a small forward in a slow power forwards body.

    The only thing i would disagree with is your conclusion. CV is not the best option the Pistons have at the four spot. I personally think Greg Monroe is their best option followed by J-Max – even with his lack of defensive rebounding.

  • Oct 13, 20106:00 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    congrats on the article, hayes.
     
    for my money, i don’t think he could have entered any system, played the way he has been, and been embraced. but the toughness of the city and its ballers can’t have helped.

  • Oct 13, 20107:29 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    Congrats on the article as well.
     
    I’ve seen the Terry Mills comparison before and I’d agree. The only difference being that Mills tried hard, he just had no athletic skills whatsoever. CV doesn’t seem like he’s putting in the effort on the court. Maybe he is, and maybe what I’m seeing is him actually trying, but it just doesn’t look like it.
     
    I’ve always said he should embrace the Corliss role. Come in off the bench and rack up as many points as possible before it’s time to get off the court. Corliss was a scoring machine. He shot a higher percentage than CV though. Villanueva spends too much time away from the basket, and really has no go to thing. Corliss was a beast on the baseline. The baseline jumper is a dying big man art.

  • Oct 13, 20108:11 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    @nuetes

    that is because the turnaround baseline jumper is one of the toughest shots in basketball.

    I don’t think CV’s position away from the basket hurts him because he is a legitimate threat for the three but you are absolutely on the mark that he really does not have a go to move. Sheed spent way too much time out there in my opinion because nobody could stop his turnaround inside but he just didn’t like bumping down there for long stretches. Cv has the same aversion to regular contact on the offensive end. To give Sheed credit, on defense he used contact & his body as effectively as any big in the league so i always figured he used the O-end to rest. Unfortunately Cv is on the opposite side of the spectrum from Sheed when it comes to a defensive game. Sheed’s was a thing of beauty, especially later in the game.

  • Oct 13, 20108:16 pm
    by Mike

    Reply

    Patrick:  Congrats on becoming a SLAM contributor.  For my money, you are the best Pistons writer out there, so it’s good to see that you are getting recognition for the writing.

  • Oct 13, 20109:42 pm
    by Alan

    Reply

    A hearty congrats on the article.
     
    I don’t think Villanueva will ever embody Detroit basketball, that’s my personal feeling.  I happen to think he’s an underrated scorer and could be a good 6th man on several NBA teams (I think LeBron and CLE could have used him last season).  He’s still young enough to be more than a 6th man but, at this point, I see him as Al Harrington with some upside.

  • Oct 13, 201010:12 pm
    by koz

    Reply

    Charlie V = Darko II

  • Oct 13, 201010:20 pm
    by DoctorDaveT.com

    Reply

    Hey, PP,
    Nice article, Patrick. However, I think the Terry Mills comparison is dooming.
    As an Ann Arbor homer, I loved it when TMills played for the Pistons. I watched him win the NCAA championship from my TVs in my dorm room. Had about 20 guys there that night. So, when he was with the Pistons, that was great.
    I loved watching him shoot the threes. When he was on, it was a lot of fun to watch. But unless your name is Bill Laimbeer, C/PF should not be shooting 3′s exclusively. They should be parked in the paint. Mills might have played playoff hoops with the Pistons, but didn’t anybody think they were championship caliber?
    Comparing CV to TMills? One word comes to mind: “soft.” Now, Mr. Hayes, that’s a relative term. I recognize CV would clean my clock and probably leave me for dead on the court; but I’m not comparing him to me – I’m comparing him to the 70 PFs that have contracts to play NBA hoops. And in that group, CV is soft.
    I don’t mean he’s a sissy boy; I get it that he played through a tremendous amount of pain. I’m using the word “Soft” to describe his style of play, his lack of good defense.
    OK – I read the article, about how much energy he puts into it. I’m not knocking his ethic either. It’s his game.
    The other guys you mention in that article: Laimbeer, Mahorn, Rodman (one of my favorite players to ever wear the Pistons uniform), Williamson, Wallace & Wallace – do you know what else they have in common, besides being fiercesome? They’re NBA champions. Not NCAA champions (a la TMills), but NBA champs.
    CV hasn’t shown me he can play PF on a championship caliber team. I sure hope I’m wrong on this, but CV isn’t a starting answer. That is, until JJ went down. Now he has a year to show me how wrong I am.

  • Oct 13, 201010:44 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @koz: ‘cept we didn’t pay darko $35+ million.

  • Oct 14, 201012:21 am
    by nuetes

    Reply

    i want darko back.

  • Oct 14, 20108:34 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @everyone:
    I agree with the general sentiment that Villanueva will probably never “fit” the mold of a Detroit basketball player. He just doesn’t have that physicality in him.
    But I also love when great systems find uses for one-dimensional guys like Villanueva. He’s an offensive threat, and a unique one. I would love to see the Pistons figure out a way to use him that will highlight his one strength and hide him defensively on the floor. I’m not sure there’s a way to do it, but his offensive ability is the reason I hold out some hope that he can be a useful player.

  • Oct 14, 201012:57 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    yes. on a good team, charlie v would simply be a wildly overpaid role player. on this team, he’s hopeless.

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