The Big Answer?: Charlie Villanueva

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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

Oops.

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.

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