Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 16 - Page 2

by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

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Sid (Eugene, Ore.): Last year we hard about how Charlie Villanueva’s off-season work was going to make him a much better player, but that never happened. Then he got suspended late last season and has contributed zero so far this season. Will he ever be worth the contract?

Langlois: To be fair, Villanueva started the 2010-11 season very strongly. He was probably the Pistons’ best player over the first month or so last season. Then his play tailed off and John Kuester began to use him less and less. He’s been fighting a nagging ankle injury since training camp this season, which has become a source of considerable frustration for him. He was looking forward to a clean slate under a new coach as much as anyone and was a player his teammates consistently mentioned as having a good start to camp, before the ankle injury befell him. There aren’t many big men who can shoot it with his range as consistently and the Pistons could use the scoring punch up front. The first step is getting healthy and proving himself to Frank, but that’s not going to be easy given the lack of practice opportunities the Pistons have in the next few weeks.

Ash (Wayne, Mich.): Our shooting percentages are almost always terrible. How can the Pistons expect to do well if they can’t shoot well?

Langlois: The Pistons went into Sunday’s game against Golden State shooting .425, which was 25th in the league. The NBA average was .442. There’s no disputing the offensive struggles early in the season, Ash, but it’s also not a huge surprise given the abbreviated preseason under a new coach implementing a new system. It’s not that the Pistons lack shooters, necessarily, but that they’ve been forced to take too many contested shots because their offense hasn’t been in sync. And when their defense struggles, then too often they’re giving up easy baskets on the other end, which means the offense has to attack a set defense.

Pablo (Mar del Plata, Argentina): At this point, with both Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye not playing, do you think the Hawks would consider a trade for Josh Smith? If not, do you think Charlie V will get amnestied?

Langlois: It’s really tough to read which way Atlanta is headed given its ownership limbo status, Pablo. If the Hawks trade Smith, they’re either going to want young talent or cap relief – both, probably – and adding Charlie V’s contract doesn’t move the needle much for them. As for the amnesty option, it’s not something that could happen until after the season. That means there’s a long time left to evaluate the situation. No decision is necessary now.

Steve (Sterling Heights, Mich.): I was curious to get your thoughts on a trade idea: Austin Daye and Jason Maxiell to Toronto for Ed Davis and Linas Kleiza.

Langlois: Not with the way Daye has begun the season, Steve. Remember, Toronto took Davis in the 2010 lottery and then only got about a half-season out of his as a rookie after he suffered a broken wrist before the season began. He impressed them, and most everyone else, in that little time with his potential as an active, athletic big man. He’s probably never going to be the guy you throw the ball to and ask him to go to work, but he could be a consummate garbage man and a first-rate defensive force. He’s the first big man off of Toronto’s bench right now and obviously is still playing on his rookie contract. Those types aren’t traded very often unless a similar impact talent is included.

Shawn (Windsor, Ontario): With Eric Maynor going down at backup point guard for the Thunder, is there any way we could maybe move Will Bynum for Cole Aldrich? Seems like it would fit both of our needs and Aldrich is a nice big but not really used behind Perkins and Ibaka.

Langlois: Losing Maynor was a blow for the Thunder, but one they were prepared to absorb. They’re using their 2011 No. 1 pick, Reggie Jackson out of Boston College, as the backup to Russell Westbrook. They also have limited but reliable veteran Royal Ivey to soak up some minutes at the end of lopsided games, which the 11-2 Thunder play their share of. James Harden can become the de facto point guard in half-court situations when Westbrook takes a seat. And after trading away 2009 No. 1 pick Byron Mullens, the Thunder might be a little hesitant to turn around so soon and give up on 2010 No. 1 pick Cole Aldrich for whatever frontcourt depth he represents.

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