In case you're not a daily reader of the Pistons main website, Keith Langlois has broken down a major interview he had with Joe Dumars into three parts. Today was Part II of that series and the Q&A exchange that popped out to me was Mr. Langlois' question to Dumars regarding Charlie Villanueva's defensive ability:
KL: He’s always been a really naturally gifted scorer. He, too, like Ben has been talked about as a guy who’s not a great defender. But he just turned 25. Do you see Charlie still with room to grow?
JD: Yes, I do and the examples I will use are a couple of guys who grew even after their first three or four years in the league. You saw Rashard Lewis get better and you saw Turkoglu get better. They became older, became more mature on the court, became better players. This notion that if a guy hasn’t shown great improvement in the first two or three years, then he’s not going to be … that’s not the case. Charlie can definitely get better and we’re going to ask him to do more. We’re going to ask him to be more than just a scorer. We love the fact he snagged 7½ rebounds a game. We’re going to ask him to continue to rebound like that. Obviously, we’re going to ask him to do a better job defensively. But I also think one of the things he can do, and it probably goes a little unnoticed – and we’ve studied a lot of him on film – is he puts the ball on the floor pretty good, too. He pump fakes and does a great job of driving that ball to the basket for a 6-10, 6-11 guy. So we’re going to ask him to do all of those things. Just as you saw Lewis and Turkoglu get better, as 6-10 guys, they got better as they got older – became more mature, more settled, stronger. Those guys settled in and became real versatile and that’s what we see Charlie as. A guy 25 years old, you can get better.
As I've said before in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva's defense (no pun intended), they have plenty of time to mold into better defensive players. And, as Dumars said, I think they will mature and, naturally, improve on the defensive side of the ball.
A lot of people tab Villanueva as a pretty poor defensive player -- and NBA sabermetrics, for the most part, back up those sentiments. Before I start throwing out numbers, I want to preface it that I'm not too big on delving deep into sabermetrics. I'm an old school guy and would much prefer to look at W's, L's, and the core stats they put in box scores. That doesn't mean I won't start buying into the stats that go beyond the box score. After all, I'm a big believer in team chemistry and unity, and that's not in the box score, either.
Last year, the Bucks were outscored by 2.2 ppg with Charlie V in the lineup and outscored by 0.8 ppg without him. His defensive rating was a 106, which may not say much for some people. According to Basketball-Reference, the defensive rating is an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions. To put it into some perspective, Rasheed Wallace was 20th in the league with a 103.4 defensive rating last season for the Pistons. I don't think Rasheed was bad defensively, and he was Top 20, but he had a 91 defensive rating in his 20+ games with the Pistons the year they won the championship. Interpret that how you will.
Even if Villanueva doesn't improve much, he is more than capable of matching his opponent, point for point. In fact, his offensive rating last season was identical to his defensive rating (106). While I think he'll definitely get better on the other side of the ball, as Joe D says will be something they will work on with him, I don't think there should be any concern from a fan's perspective.
Is this something people are really concerned about? Or was it just a matter of people looking for reasons to put down Dumars' off-season Free Agent signing? Let me know what you think.