Pistons Villanueva in the best shape of his life? I think I've heard that before

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Charlie Villanueva has vowed that he is putting injuries and ineffectiveness in the past and has a new conditioning program that is going to transform his body and his game. But is it real or deja vu all over again?

It is that time of year again -- an offseason ritual as common as the groundhog seeing his shadow and a J.J. Abrams show getting canceled after one season. It is officially the point in the offseason when Charlie Villanueva laments the previous season and vows that he is in the best shape of his life.

The latest comes via an amusing one-two punch. 1. The traditional Villanueva story -- this time with the conceit that he has been transformed by an extreme boxing regimen; and 2. Vincent Goodwill, being one of the more athletic beat writers there is (talk about damning with faint praise) and always game to do new things gets put through the official CV workout and pukes out a little of that afternoon's pizza.

Look, I don't hate Villanueva and I don't think you'll find many writers at DBB being among the village mob that called for him to be amnestied last year (because it didn't make any financial sense to do so). I wasn't nearly as disappointed in his production his first two years in Detroit as I was with Ben Gordon's. Yes, he is a terrible defender but he has obvious offensive gifts that can help such a point-starved team.

Still, these annual conditioning stories are bordering on ridiculous. Here is the highlight from v.3.0:

"Different situations each time (year). My lowest year was last year by far. At least I played my first two years. Then last year my body couldn't. The lockout played a role in it, not knowing when you'll go back to work. My mindset wasn't the same. Now I know I have to be back Oct. 1."

At the suggestion of Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander, Villanueva has been doing sauna workouts, which help with metabolism, assist with detox and inflammation and having the training effect without beating the body up.

Now, Villanueva says, he's a changed man:

He started a few months ago and it's become addictive to the eighth-year forward, after the initial awkwardness.

"Then I wanted to get better at this. Then it became, I want to do this all the time. I could see my body getting better and better," he said.

If this all sounds incredibly familiar that is because it is. There was this in 2010:

"Throughout my whole career, last year was actually the worst year of my career," Villanueva said during Pistons' media day. "Joe Dumars, the whole Pistons organization, made a commitment to me for five years. And last year was a disappointing one, for me and the team. I just wanted to show everyone that I'm committed to improving, committed to learning from what happened last year."

And this:

@Law_Junky: How hard do you commit yourself in the off-season? Rumors are your lazy and don't take the training to serious, is that true?

1) How hard will I commit this off-season? Like never before! This will be my first off-season staying in my NBA city.#31REPLIES

Don't forget this:

In April, Villanueva said he would stay and work out in his NBA city during the offeason for the first time. Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News reported Wednesday that Pistons officials confirmed Villanueva had been working out "diligently."

--- snip ---

And Kulfan actually went to the practice facility and saw Villanueva, who seems to understand what's necessary:

"I want to change my whole body," said Villanueva, who wants to get stronger and quicker.

And remember when he finally got healthy after a freak ankle injury last season?

Nobody has spent more time with Villanueva over his injury-marred season than strength coach Arnie Kander, whose well-documented knack for concocting unique remedies has helped Charlie V get in the best shape of his basketball life.

Villanueva has lost 30 pounds, Kander said, since training camp and is at his lightest, with his lowest body-fat percentage, since he got to the NBA. He's done it with a workout regimen centered around sweating in the sauna.

Maybe this year is different. Maybe he's reached a new level of athleticism that will enable him to commit to a new level of defense. I'm just afraid it really has more to do with his head than his muscles. He simply has poor defensive instincts both in man, in team, in terms of boxing out for rebounds, etc.

Still, if he is healthy he could provide scoring punch off the bench. But to give that offensive lift he is going to have to fight more than body, he is going to have to fight Jason Maxiell, Jonas Jerebko Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Slava Kravtsov in a loaded big man rotation.

Is there still room for a productive CV? Always. Will he be productive? Once again, the jury is out.

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