As if Pistons’ forward Charlie Villanueva needed more criticism, it came his way this week in the form of being excluded from the Dominican Republic’s Olympic qualifying team.
While he hasn’t actually been in any camps this summer, he did attend last year’s camp overweight, and it’s believed head coach John Calipari simply felt that he was slowing the team down and didn’t think he would be able to contribute. Sounds eerily familiar to his situation in Detroit.
There has been a lot of debate about which overpaid player the team should amnesty, and it’s a dead-heat between Villanueva and Ben Gordon. While Gordon has substantially more money owed to him (roughly $25 million to Villanueva’s $16 million), he has been able to perform and had several huge games this past season. His inclusion on the Pistons roster does create a logjam at guard, but besides his contract, he would have some trade value to a team looking for veteran scoring.
Villanueva, on the other hand, has been one of the biggest disappointments in terms of Joe Dumars’ free agency pickups. He has come into training camp overweight (what a surprise), and even when he does play, he seems completely uninterested in “team” play. For a guy his size (6’11”, 240), he would be well-suited to bang down low alongside Greg Monroe.
Unfortunately for all the Piston coaches who have had to deal with Charlie V, he has never wanted to play that style of basketball. He’s been more inclined to simply stand outside the three-point line and jack up quick shots, never even attempting to make an extra pass or look for an open teammate. He has been the consummate “chucker,” someone simply looking for shot attempts.
The worst part about that? He hasn’t even been making the shots he’s taken! In just 13 games last season, Villanueva made just 33% of his three-point attempts; inside the long line, he was just barely better at 38.5%. An “off” year, perhaps? Not likely. The former Huskie (pun intended) is a career .346 shooter from deep. He has, and always will be, a poor shooting big man… who loves to shoot.
If his exclusion from the Dominican Republic national team – especially one that isn’t particularly good – wasn’t enough for Dumars to consider using the amnesty clause on him, I don’t know what else he can do. He needs to realize that this is one investment that just hasn’t worked out.
One more note – Villanueva tweeted a picture of himself on a scale coming in at 243.5, roughly 10 pounds less than his previous playing weight. He also included his UConn championship ring in the picture for some reason. You won it eight years ago – let’s move on, Charlie. If he put half as much effort into working out and playing hard as he did posting pictures and Tweeting, he would never be in this situation.