Ah, Charlie Villanueva. If there’s one guy on any Pistons team over the last decade that makes the majority of fans’ blood boil, it’s you.
Villanueva comes in at No. 313 in today’s #NBArank update. It feels pretty high for a guy who can’t even stick in a bad team’s rotation. On the bright side, with his eight-million dollar salary, he’s only the second-most overpaid guy on the list, so far.
But at the same time, this ranking seems maybe a bit low. Stick with me here.
These rankings are crafted with the idea of how good a player will be in the upcoming season — not season’s past. That means they’re completely ignoring the past. Mercifully, they’re ignoring the horror of Charlie V’s initial four years in Detroit.
That leaves this season, a contract year. As Joe Dumars probably still has nightmares about, Charlie V was pretty darn good (16 points, 7 rebounds) during his contract year in Milwaukee back in 2008-09. That’s a level of play that he hasn’t, and absolutely will not, approach in Detroit. Maybe it was a big, fat anomaly — who knows — but it got him (over)paid.
Villanueva’s issues have always been linked to effort. Giving full effort on the court. Not settling for long 3-pointers. Waiting to get into shape during the regular season. Heck, we could make a drinking game based on the number of times “Charlie V is in the best shape of his life” or “Charlie’s been boxing this offseason, he’s really getting ready” have been said early in the season.
I think he’s cognizant of how he’s characterized and thought of these days. I think he also knows he’s got, maybe, one last chance to get paid decently this summer. To do that, he needs to be active nightly, a reliable shooter and just an overall solid stretch-four off the bench. That’ll help the shooting-challenged Pistons and it’ll help him.
Of course, he could very well be the same old Charlie V, shooting 26 footers and occasionally venturing into the paint for a rebound.
There’s evidence of contract year’s being the motivation he needs. He’s going to get his chance to play, based solely on his ability to shoot, so let’s see how badly he wants some team to show him the money next July.