Charlie Villanueva has played 15 minutes all season and barring an injury doesn't appear as if he will crack the rotation this season. But that, apparently, hasn't stopped Villanueva from getting into the best shape of his life.
According to Keith Langlois at Pistons.com, Arnie Kander, who has been working with the rehabbing CV all year, says Villanueva has never been better, physically at least:
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.
Conventional wisdom says that the Pistons are likely to lose 200+ pounds by exercising the amnesty provision on Charlie V. this offseason. Lets assume, for the sake of argument, that he is NOT let go under the amnesty provision.
First, does Villanueva deserve a chance in the regular rotation?
There are a few different ways to answer this question.
The first is the way Coach Frank does. In a nutshell, playing time has to be earned, and the four players ahead of Villanueva in the rotation - Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell, and Ben Wallace - have all earned theirs. Minutes for Charlie means sitting one of them.
"It's not a knock on Charlie," Frank said. "Charlie's working hard. He's doing what we're asking. My thing is Greg, Max, Jonas, Body - they're all doing basically what we're asking. In order to put Charlie in there, one of those guys has to sit and right now those guys have played well on a consistent basis. Charlie has proven what he can do in this league. It's unfortunate he missed so much time with the injury. Hopefully, there'll be an opportunity for him to get in there, but the guys in front of him have played well."
Frankly, that makes a lot of sense.
The second way to answer the question hinges on this season's ultimate focus. If the ultimate focus of is establishing long-term goals (and thus the long-term roster pieces), rather than the final win total, then giving Charlie Villanueva some burn over the last 11 games makes sense. Ben Wallace is likely retiring, and Jason Maxiell may be opting out of his contract, which leaves only Monroe, Jerebko, and Villanueva as big men under contract for 2012-2013.
He may be one of the most obvious amnesty candidates in the league right now, but doesn't he deserve a chance to play his way out of that - especially if the team will be in dire need of front court players?
Besides, if this season's win total is not the primary concern right now, then nothing is lost by playing Charlie Villanueva. If he plays poorly and his poor play contributes to an additional loss or two, the downside (or upside, depending on perspective) is better odds at a top-three lottery pick. The potential upside is seeing a glimpse of what Chiseled Charlie could contribute to the future.
And the final question is could Villanueva be turning himself from a power forward into a small forward? And if it were the case would that be a good thing? CV is listed at 240 pounds on basketball-reference and 232 in the Pistons media guide, and if he is down to 210 that is obviously way too slight to play PF. And CV certainly doesn't have a power forward's game on either offense or defense.
And it really is all about defense for him. If there is any way that his defensive flaws could be either hidden or improved upon (possibly by shedding 30 pounds?) then he could certainly be a useful piece and a less obvious amnesty candidate
But just because he is supposedly 210 pounds, doesn't mean that he has the lateral quickness or instincts to guard small forwards. But I guess I'm throwing it out there for discussion: would it be easier to hide CV's defensive deficiencies if he was slotted as a small forward rather than a power forward?
Does the very thought of this enrage those that are dying for Jonas Jerebko to get a shot at small forward himself?
H/T to PistonPowered
MFBG contributed (the good parts) to this post.