Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Previewing '13-'14: Charlie Villaneuva

This is a series previewing every player on the Pistons roster before the season kicks into gear. Previously: Jonas JerebkoJosh Harrellson, (I wrote a Luigi Datome preview that was lost to the internet; RIP Datome preview), Peyton Siva, Tony Mitchell

'12-'13 stats
37.7% (34.7%)

As the last remaining vestige of the long-misunderstood Chauncey-for-AI trade, Charlie Villanueva's final contract year in a Pistons uniform comes as a blessing to most Pistons fans. But I unapologetically love Charlie Villanueva. Last year's trio of Will Bynum-Andre Drummond-Villanueva was one of the team's most offensively gifted units because of the stress they put on opposing defenses:
The Bynum-Drummond-Villanueva lineup was an offensive juggernaut last season: in 9.3 minutes per game (28 games), the trio shot 47.1% from the field (44% from outside) and scored 19.3 points per game. The Pistons deployed a high pick and roll with Bynum and Drummond, and used Villanueva with Stuckey/Singler/Knight/etc to stretch the floor. This lineup is the primary reason Bynum was re-signed
Detroit made a claim to the Lob City throne last year in large part because of Villanueva's ability to space the floor. Without him stressing the inside defense of the opposition, Drummond's rolls to the basket wouldn't have been as blitheringly wide open.

But Villaneuva is a 29-year-old big man who has seen his PER drop noticeably since his '08-'09 peak (18.69). Last year, his true shooting percentage fell to an abhorrent 48.1%, driven largely by a 55% free throw percentage. And while he shot a respectable 34.7% from outside, Villanueva's 41% two-point field goal percentage is unsustainable for a big man. It's unclear how he reverts some of these trends, but his decreasing usage percentage the last few years may hold a way forward: as a change of pace power forward on a team of basket-attacking banshees.

With the addition of Luigi Datome and Villanueva's expiring contract, this is the last season that Charlie V will be in Detroit. It's unclear whether or not he even ends the season in a Pistons uniform, but until he's gone, you can expect the same performance that he's been turning out the last three years.

Projected '13-'14 role: Trade bait; occasional floor spacer
#HOTSPORTSTAKE: Charlie Villanueva will not be on the Pistons roster at the season's end. With an expiring deal and enough capable bodies available to take his place, Villanueva will get packaged with some combination of Stuckey, Jerebko, and/or Greg Monroe (yes, that Greg Monroe), and be shipped off to a contender or a team looking to enter free agency at the end of the year (hai, Lebron et al). In the meantime, Villanueva will get his audition minutes early in the season, showing off what he can do to potential suitors.

Projected '13-'14 stats
35.0% (32.0%)

What does this mean for the team?
Charlie Villanueva is exactly what this Pistons team needs, except now they have Luigi Datome on a more reasonable contract for the production expected. With a team struggling with spacing issues, a stretch-4 is a requirement. But Villanueva has outstayed his welcome in Detroit and with an expiring contract and a lack of future assets, Joe Dumars would be wise to deal Villanueva anywhere. I firmly believe that the signing of Datome was done with this in mind. What the Pistons will be able to get for Villaneuva in a package deal will be determined by the suitor, but garnering a high-end draft pick for anything other than Monroe and others is an impossibility in this draft, even if Villanueva's contract was packaged with Detroit's other expiring contracts.

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