Arnie Kander told me last week how hard Charlie has worked with him this season and said he’s gotten himself in really good shape, which is tough to do for players during the season. As the season goes on, practices begin to taper in duration and, in some ways, in intensity to preserve the bodies of the eight or nine players who are in the rotation. Players outside the rotation, then, have to be especially self-motivated to find ways to stay in top condition and Villanueva has done that. Is he frustrated that he’s not playing? I’m sure he is, but he hasn’t let it affect his attitude.
Caveats about the source of the information apply – of course, the Pistons organization would say one of its players is doing everything right – but if true, this is rather stunning and pleasing.
The problem with this report, though: If it’s true, it makes Lawrence Frank look bad. A hard-working, in-shape, self-motivated Charlie Villanueva deserves to play. Villanueva has immense talent, and most of his problems have appeared to stem from attitude. If that’s solved, even temporarily, it doesn’t make sense to keep sitting him.