I am an optimistic person. I am optimistic about all of our Detroit Pistons, and I am especially optimistic about Charlie Villanueva. If he were to play for stretches as a dominant 4 it would be good for the organization, help the rest of the team flourish, and even be a model for little kids with auto-immune disorders around the world.
As optimistic as I am, Keith Langlois seems to be a little TOO optimistic in his write up about Charlie V's performance in the 2010 Centrobasket, "Flying Colors". While Charlie V certainly put up a lot of big numbers, his performance comes with a lot of caveats and still shows areas of improvement.Take a quick look at Villanueva Mejia, Charlie Alexander's stat line and some eye popping numbers jump out at you. 36/11 look like good numbers especially given that he only played 36 minutes.
What was the most shocking to me was that he took 13 three pointers, making 7 of them on 54% shooting from deep. This is shocking because as the lone NBA player on a team full of smaller players, he probably had free reign offensively. Yet, he made the choice to gun it, even in a situation where he is the biggest man on the court, he would rather take it outside of the shortened 3 pt line. He shot more 3's than 2's and I can't say how many of those 2's are in the paint. I wonder if he allowed himself to get muscled out of the paint against competition that is below D-league caliber.
Defensively what you can see in his stat line is, nothing outside of the 9 defensive rebounds. Puerto Rico and their many smaller players stretched the floor and pulled CV away from the basket exposing his slow foot speed and stride mechanics. That explains a portion of what looks like the lack of defensive production, but some amount of it has to be either poor conditioning or a lingering injury. This may also explain his choice to linger around the three point line instead of banging in the post.
There isn't much video online to watch CV in this event, but you can see the last part of the final game on the videos below. This is from a Puerto Rican Station so there are a lot of cuts, but you can watch what happens from when the game is tied at 8:00 by doing as follows:
Take this youtube clip to 8:00.
At 9:05 switch to the 2nd video:
PR vs RD Medalla de ORO Centrobasket 2010 (via TvLunna)
PUERTO RICO VS REPUBLICA DOMINICANA 2 PARTE ULTIMOS MINUTOS (via jr4pr)
After watching both of these Charlie V's body language in the closing minutes of a very important game is very poor. It shows either very poor conditioning, which does not bode well considering he only played a fairly pedestrian 36 minutes, or that he has not fully healed from his foot injuries. There is a point in the game where the Dominican side is down 8 and Charlie goes to post up on an smaller person but gets pushed out. After a Dominican player shoots Charlie fails to get position for a rebound, falls to the floor and seemingly watches from the floor as the Puerto Rican side jogs down and hits the open man for a 3, putting them up 11. This part is particularly frustrating as it seems he needs a little more in his tank to at least get up off the floor in the final minutes.
Defensively, Puerto Rico stretches their offense forcing him to be unable to close out on the players on the wing allowing them to shoot it, or drive past him before he gets his balance. For someone who can play so well on offense on the outside, he does not have the conditioning or the foot speed to alter the shots of outside shooters late in this game.
I want to be positive, I really think it is hard to be that big, have that much range, and that much ability, and not be able to contribute to a team that wants to win big games. His work in DR shows that he can be good on a stat sheet, and to fulfill his role as big man on a tough, defensive minded team, he has a lot of work to do in the gym this summer.