In defense of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva

I admit, I was pretty excited when the Pistons signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva last summer. They were talented and young – an enticing combination. Sure, they had flaws, but they would at least upgrade Detroit’s aging core.

Instead, they turned the Pistons into a laughing stock – at least that’s the common perception.

I can’t remember one Daily Dime Live chat where I wasn’t asked about Gordon and Villanueva disappointing. “Do the Pistons regret signing Gordon and Villanueva?” Over and over and over.

My common response: “Probably a little, but mostly because of injuries – which is based on hindsight. I’m willing to call this year a wash and evaluate them next year.” I want to explain that thinking with a little more depth.

Whether Gordon and Villanueva will work out in Detroit is a complex question, and I plan to analyze the nuances throughout the summer. But here’s a simple case for why both players are better than performed this year, based on just six numbers for Gordon and five for Villanueva.

Ben Gordon

  • 40.5
  • 43.5
  • 41.3
  • 41.0
  • 41.0
  • 32.1

That’s Gordon’s 3-point percentage each year of his career.

The only other players to make at least 40 percent of their 3-pointers each season between 2004-05 and 2008-09: Raja Bell and Steve Nash. It’s a pretty exclusive club.

I really doubt Gordon forgot how to shoot 3s this year. I think this year, not the previous five, was the aberration.

It’s clear his injuries messed with his head. Gordon missed twice as many games this year as his previous high. He didn’t look comfortable on the court post-injury and showed no confidence in his shot.

Hopefully, a summer off will clear his head. Judging by Gordon’s strong play the last four games (26.5 points per game and making 44.8 percent of his 3s), he’s on the right track.

Charlie Villanueva

  • 13.5
  • 13.6
  • 15.0
  • 14.7
  • 12.0

Those are Villanueva’s rebounding percentages each year he’s been the league.

A knock on Villanueva has been he doesn’t do anything but shoot. He certainly has room to improve his all-around game, but he’s a pretty good rebounder.

I really think his plantar fasciitis prevented him from showing it this year. He just didn’t have the same lift or ability to move in the paint he showed early in the season.

Rebounding percentage usually doesn’t vary much for a player. For example, Andray Blatche has a career rebounding percentage of 13.8 in five seasons, same as Villanueva. His career low was a 12.6 as a rookie.

So, as with Gordon’s 3-point shooting, I think this year – not the previous four – is the aberration. Let Villanueva’s foot heal, then evaluate his rebounding.

Conclusion

Gordon and Villanueva are young and have plenty of room to grow. But Gordon is a good 3-point shooter and Villanueva can rebound – even if they didn’t show it this year. Add those major pieces to each of their game’s, and the signing won’t look so bad.

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Tags: Ben Gordon Charlie Villanueva

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