Friday, March 5, 2010
5 Things Joe Dumars Must Have Forgotten about Charlie Villanueva when he Signed him for $35 Million Dollars Last Summer
1. He's a big man who likes to shoot 3s...only, he ain't a good 3-point shooter.
See, as Pistons fans, we have seen this act quite a bit the last few years (see: Rasheed Wallace), and lemme tell you, it is even less fun the second time around. Charlie Villanueva is 6-foot-11, but you wouldn't know it from his game. This man just loves to shoot the long ball. In a home loss to Portland last month, Charlie V jacked up 9 from long range...he made 1. In the tight loss to the Celtics earlier this week, he hoisted 4 from distance...he made none. For the year, he is shooting 32% on 3s, which is pretty much right at his career average (.326). It's not like the guy is just struggling with his outside shot; it was just never that good to begin with.
2. He's not in the best shape, he's not in the worst shape. He's just kind of..."doughy."
Simply put, doughy is never a good adjective to have placed on you as a professional athlete. Its meaning is exactly what you think. While other NBA power forwards have toned bodies composed of lean muscle mass, Villanueva's main core is composed of actual cookie dough. Homeboy is soft, with a capital S. When you think of the word doughy, it conjures up memories of guys like Chris Gatling and George McCloud. They weren't necessarily in terrible physical condition, but it doesn't mean it would have been a pleasant experience to see them shirtless in the locker room after a game. At least with a guy like Rasheed, he was somewhat sculpted early in his career. Charlie V is only 25, and he's already starting to look like Terry Mills. Doughy might be an understatement three years from now...yikes.
3. He's got a little bit of funk in his post-up game...just don't expect the ball ever to be kicked out once he gets his mitts on it.
I made the joke earlier this year that in watching Villanueva play, it almost seems like he literally is not aware that when he receives the ball in the post, he still possesses the option to either shoot or pass. I really think that he is just unaware of the rules of the game and thinks that when he is delivered the ball on the block, he has to shoot, or the ball is turned over to the other team. That's the only explanation for the way he plays. Don't get me wrong, Villanueva is a semi-capable scorer down near the paint. He's got a nice little arsenal of jump hooks and awkward turnarounds. But he is definitely a "black hole." Meaning, once the ball goes in, it ain't comin' back out. You could double-team him, you could triple-team him...hell, you could send your entire roster and your coaching staff out on the floor to surround him in the post, and he would still send the ball towards the rim before it's all said and done. Watch an old tape of Hakeem in the Finals in '94 and '95. He was downright filthy on the block, scoring at will against whoever was guarding him. However, when help came, he was always willing to dish out to Robert Horry, Kenny Smith, Mario Elie, or whoever was open out on the perimeter. It's a mandatory skill for any guy that wants to get the ball in the post on a regular basis. Apparently Charlie V never got that memo.
4. Defense Optional
There is a lot wrong with Mr. Villanueva's work on the defensive side of the ball. And I think it starts with that funny body of his. He's almost 7 feet tall, but still lacks the necessary bulk to match up with beefy power forwards like Carlos Boozer. And if you want to free him up from all that banging and have him defend the 3-man, now it's his absence of foot speed and athleticism that makes the matchup a nightmare. There's really nowhere to hide him. One time this year, Al Harrington of the Knicks backed Villanueva all the way down for a layup. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal. Except that Harrington started his voyage at the 3-point line. It may have been the first 22-foot post-up in NBA history. No coincidence that it involved our boy Charlie, a true NBA sieve.
5. Dude's attitude is prittttay, prittttay, shaky.
It's always been a concern for the Villanueva followers throughout his basketball career. Does the guy really care enough to be a top NBA player, or is he pretty much fine with sailing through his 8-10 years, making his money, and not breaking too much of a sweat in the process? I hate to say it, but I think it's clearly the latter. I just don't see much desire from Charlie. There have been rare moments this year when he gets fired up during a game. In an upset home win over Boston during the season's 1st half, it was Villanueva who kept knocking down big shots in the final minutes. After his final dagger trey, followed by a Celts timeout, Villanueva came bounding over to the Pistons bench, smile as wide as could be, high-fiving teammates and receiving a standing O from the crowd. It was the first real proof we had that this guy might actually be a force on the court, instead of the oversized human equivalent to rice pilaf that he often appeared to be. But alas, those moments have been few and far between. Just recently, John Kuester gave Villanueva his own personal quarters in the doghouse, playing him just 3 minutes in a loss to Orlando, and saying things like, "Charlie will be a good player for us down the road. We just got to make sure he's on the page of what we want to get accomplished." Hmmm, he will be a good player "down the road"?? It's his fifth year in the league...exactly when is the light going to flick on? And is there a bigger red flag than the coach saying that a certain player "needs to be on the same page" of what the team is trying to accomplish? One would safely assume the team's goals are winning and playing together. After 61 games, if Villanueva is still struggling to understand this, then we've got big problems.
Charlie Villanueva. Under contract for four more seasons.
Don't worry...I just got the chills, too.
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