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The Big Answer?: Charlie Villanueva

DF then: How good will he be in 2011-12?

I have no doubt Charlie Villanueva will succeed this season. Am I crazy? (After reading that first sentence, I won’t disagree with anyone who says yes.)

I believe Villanueva is in better shape. I believe Villanueva is focused and motivated. I believe he’s talented, just like he’s always been.

That’s a lethal combination, and in the rare times Villanueva has put together all those elements in the past, he’s succeeded.

Villanueva’s motivations aren’t complex. He signed a sizable contract last summer, didn’t live up to it and feels embarrassed. Let’s credit the guy for responding appropriately so far.

But once he surpasses this year’s extremely low expectations, what will motivate him next summer? Is his only goal not to be so bad he sticks out as a scapegoat? Does he have the passion to stand out for positive reasons, not just the desire not to stand out for negative ones?

For those of you expect nothing or next to nothing from Villanueva this season, I think you’re in for a pleasant surprise. But when stakes are raised a year from now, I’m not sure Villanueva will deliver.

DF now: Uhhh


Perhaps, I can better answer my second question (Am I crazy?): Yes. Let’s just move along, please.

PH then: Is this year make or break?

No player had a more bi-polar season a year ago than Charlie V. For stretches in December/January, he was putting up huge scoring numbers, carrying the team some nights, and he looked like he was legitimately going to have a breakout season. By the end of the year, he was out of the rotation.

Villanueva has a big contract, but it’s not completely unreasonable by NBA standards. He’s also young, can score and is nearly 7-foot.

If Villanueva’s talking points about being committed to defense, committed to being in better shape and committed to being a viable cornerstone don’t materialize, it’s a good bet he could be a trade candidate.

PH now: Yes

I don’t know whether the Pistons will look to trade Villanueva, but this season proved he’s not a starting-caliber power forward.

He played better defense and was arguably the Pistons’ nicest surprise a couple months into the season, but his defensive effort and production, especially on the glass, tailed off dramatically as the year unfolded.

There is a role for Villanueva in the NBA, one he could fill very well, as a multi-position offensive threat off the bench. I’m just not sure the Pistons need that with so many other deficiencies on the roster.


  • May 10, 20119:30 am
    by rob


    I dont get this Big Answer segment. What is it?

    • May 10, 201110:22 am
      by Patrick Hayes



      Before the season started, we did previews for what we thought were the biggest question surrounding each player. That series was called ‘The Big Question.’

      ‘The Big Answer’ is basically just going back and looking at what we said preseason and whether or not we got anything close to right in those predictions.

      • May 10, 20113:34 pm
        by rob


        Patrick, thanks for clearing that up. I had a sense thats what it was, but wasnt sure.

        Knowing that now, you were a little off on this one. lol. :-)

  • May 10, 201110:02 am
    by brgulker


    Charlie V has had one good season, his contract year in Milwaukee. Dumars needs to move him for whatever he can get.
    I would actually take PH’s argument further and say that not only is Charlie V not a starting-caliber player, it’s questionable whether or not he’s a reliable, consistent role player.
    I mean, he basically gives you what Matt Bonner gives you at a more than twice the price.

  • May 10, 201111:51 am
    by neutes


    He’s like Bonner if Bonner jacked up twice as many shots and shot worse doing so. CV jacks up shots every chance he gets. I’m not sure what team would view him as an asset. I’m sure he could excel on some fast paced team with a good PG where he can sit on the 3-point line all game and wait to get setup for a shot. And by excel I mean score points. I’m not sure he’ll ever excel at doing much else.

  • May 10, 201112:34 pm
    by RandomGuy313


    Given CVs skill set I think that he has a place on this team. He is making a considerable amount, but if you look across the league it is in line with a lot of overpaid PFs. He is streaky and provides minimal defense, I am quite sure no one sees him as a facilitator. My guess next year is Rodney (or insert new point guard name here) and Monroe will have the ball more and we need people to make buckets. He has shown that he can, albeit inconsistently, but you can always limit his minutes if he is not hitting his shots.

  • May 10, 201112:59 pm
    by Jason


    I still think its too soon to judge him completely as a bust. Once Dumars is finally given the green light and if he doesnt trade Charlie then yes this next year is the year we determine his true value.

    Same with Gordon.

  • May 10, 20111:55 pm
    by Laser


    i don’t think this year proved much. we knew who he was, and he performed to expectations. i think the guy needs to be thrown into the fire, one way or the other. put him in a role where he’s actually got some pressure on him to perform, and if he doesn’t pull through… throw him into an actual fire.
    i think the biggest problem he has is complacency. he’s perfectly comfortable in a role where he comes off the bench for 15-20 minutes a night, jacks up shots, and doesn’t do much else. he’s got the skillset to be an effective player, and he’s done so in bursts (early this season, and when he and stuckey were our only scorers for that stretch last season). but he doesn’t have the passion, the willpower, the brains, the pride, any of that stuff.
    he’s our most talented and highest paid power forward. by any standard the starting job should be his to lose, but he’s been allowed to blend right into the crowd of flawed PF options. he was already an afterthought a year into his contract. at this point, whatever we get from him (maybe five games a year where he scores enough to justify his paycheck that night) is considered a bonus. meanwhile, he’s getting paid like a cornerstone. if the pressure was on him to deliver, i wonder if he would answer the bell. no more early hooks. he’s paid like a star, make him be one.
    thing is, the fact that the last two seasons (maybe three) have been a complete and total waste. in a losing season (or two, in this case) there’s a lot the team could have accomplished that doesn’t show up in the win-loss column. but the pistons were only worried about winning now, even though their approach was horrendous, and the playoffs were never a reasonable goal.

  • May 10, 20113:33 pm
    by Mike


    I think it is too early to tell? Last seasons Piston’s team was one of the most dysfunctional in my memory, and I have been a fan since they played in Cobo Arena. I use the word dysfunctional with care, I have seen worse Piston teams, I have seen Piston’s team with much less talent. This team had way more talent and capability than the record would indicate.
    I am not throwing the Coach or GM under the bus but this team had the talent ti be better. Charlie V is an enigma to me as I can see his offensive skills but the defense is not very good and his basketball IQ doesn’t seem too high?
    When the sale goes through a lot of people have to take a hard look in the mirror and some of the team executives really need to step up. Next, the team has to step up. Talent without effort and focus in the NBA will not win games

  • May 10, 20113:43 pm
    by Fennis


    Not only is CV awful as a basketball player, he’s downright demoralizing to players, coaches, and fans. I challenge anyone on this board to find a lower bball IQ in the NBA.
    If you know the guy doesn’t have it mentally to play on a championship team (would you trust him to perform *in any role* in a big game in the playoffs) then you have to take the next opportunity to move him… And re the Bonner comparisons? Not only does Bonner shoot less, the guy hits his defensive rotations and can likewise perform in the context of a defensive system. That doesn’t mean he’s a good defensive player, but the guy can execute installed defensive principles. CV is the opposite of that.
    In my opinion, he is by far the most problematic player on the roster and in my mind Dumars’ worst decision as GM — ever. And I’m an ardent Dumars supporter. I just can’t understand why you would sign someone with such piss poor defensive instincts, bad body language, and poor shot selection. He’d be a cancer if we were paying him the veteran’s minimum. And I don’t mean cancer in the social or interpersonal sense, but strictly in terms of basketball play.

    • May 10, 20114:03 pm
      by RandomGuy313


      @Fennis… I just think that JoeD was overreacting to the NBAs emphasis on promoting offense. He saw CV putting up numbers with the Bucks and that he was someone that posed match up problems. Same thing with BG, his isolations against Boston in the playoffs got him that deal.
      I was very upset when he got rid of Afflalo because he better epitomized what JoeD wanted then anybody he brought in.

    • May 10, 20114:08 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “I challenge anyone on this board to find a lower bball IQ in the NBA.”

      Flip Saunders humbly nominates JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche or Nick Young.

    • May 10, 20116:27 pm
      by Zach


      @Fennis….Thank you for recognizing what an inferior player CV31 is…You know he’s rarely going to get an offensive rebound because he stands 23 feet from the basket.  How appropriate is that for a 6 foot 11 inch PF?  The laziest player in the NBA…Doesn’t run the court…Hates to screen for his teammates…Opposing PF’s lick their chops when they have an opportunity to take him in the low post…Hates to even make it look good on defense…and did I mention his rebounding?  He’ll get one uncontested with no bodies nearby.  Doesn’t like to dirty things up in an area where he is assigned to play.  By far the worst FA signing ever by Joe D.  In the new collective bargaining agreement, we can only hope they can pay him his $21-mil to walk but at least fall off the salary cap and more important, the team.

  • May 10, 20119:50 pm
    by gordbrown


    CVs season trajectory was an interesting phenomenon. I’m ready to duck but he was playing really well. Then he sprained his ankle He did come back relatively quickly, but his conditioning was visibly affected and he was ineffective for a horribly long time. As his minutes went down, his enthusiasm quickly followed. Then somehow he managed to get into better shape and looked slightly better at the end of the year. What to make of this? I’m as frustrated as anybody with his ticky tack fouls leading to “and ones.” But I think if he rededicates himself in the off season and he is properly motivated (and especially is motivated to maintain conditioning even if he misses games through injury) he can contribute more. But of the two, I would still rather than Ben Gordon, so if there is a trade to be made …

  • May 11, 20111:39 am
    by Fennis


    @ Zach

    So true. The sad part is that the guy comes in, hits a couple threes, and people begin to think he’s worth a damn. As you clearly articulated, he is an unequivocal failure in every phase of the game except shooting. Hustle, rebounding, defense, blocking shots, picks. His lack of effort is simply stunning and almost pathological, in the sense that it seems to be some sort of schtick (sp?). He conveys this “I don’t give a damn” on-court persona that is sometimes abruptly interrupted by half-hearted hacking at the basket which appears to be his twisted idea of rugged play… And for a guy of his caliber to go on that absurd tirade in the last game of the season… His play is nothing short of an embarrassment to the franchise.

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  • May 11, 20116:17 am
    by steve


    @fennis  in response to your challenge i nominate kuester as having a lower bball IQ…

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