Maurice Cheeks intimates Charlie Villanueva is out of shape

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Charlie Villanueva’s last good season came in 2008-09.

He’s due for another.

Villanueva hasn’t come close to the 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game he averaged five years ago, but the upcoming season brings a potentially key similarity to 2008-09: it’s a contract year.

After his breakout season with the Bucks, Villanueva got a five-year, $37.7 million contract from the Pistons and has continuously disappointed since. Pistons fans hoped a contract year would at least motivate Villanueva into one quality season in Detroit, potentially even making him trade bait.

That plan is off to a poor start.

David Mayo of MLive:

Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks speculated that Charlie Villanueva’s 0-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers in two preseason games is the product of training-camp legs. “If you’re a shooter, you’ve got to get yourself in that shape to be able to make those shots,” Cheeks said.

“If you’re a rebounder, you’re not rebounding, they find somebody to rebound. If you’re a shooter, you don’t shoot, they find somebody to shoot,” he said.

Villanueva shot 2-for-4 on 3-pointers in Detroit’s third preseason game, but that still leaves him a woeful 2-for-12. We’re dealing with a small sample size, obviously in individual games, but also in the entirety of the preseason. Assuming Cheeks is basing his evaluation on more than just Villanueva’s in-game 3-point shooting stats, though, this becomes much more meaningful.

With bad shooter Josh Smith and non-shooters Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond comprising the starting front line, the Pistons could use a stretch four in their rotation, so Villanueva has an opportunity. But Jonas Jerebko is also vying for that same backup spot. He doesn’t have the shooting ability of Villanueva, but Jerebko can be a better defender and rebounder, and he’s also at least a passable perimeter shooter when being selective.

Villanueva still has time to work his way into shape, and many players use the preseason precisely for that purpose. But the Pistons have to be disappointed Villanueva – the man John Calipari once called too fat for the Dominican national team – isn’t better positioned to prove himself in a contract year.

Then again, maybe Joe Dumars is just better off without the temptation to re-sign Villanueva.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.

Hornets’ rookie P.J. Washington out weeks with fractured little finger

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In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.

While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.

Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.

The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).