Charlie Villanueva’s performance this season epitomized that of a pure three-point shooter. Whenever he stepped onto the floor, his job was simple: Shoot the ball. And shoot he did, to the tune of 11.7 three-point attempts per 36 minutes, by far the highest in franchise history. The last player to even come close was DeShawn Stevenson in 2010-11, but he shot only 7.7 per 36.
His volume attempts was never a problem, though. That’s his job, his craft, and he was lethal from deep this season. On a team that needed shooting, Villanueva loudly filled that void.
More than 60 percent of Villanueva’s field goal attempts this season came from beyond the three-point line. That’s his specialty, for sure, but rarely do we see an athlete perform at such an extreme. Seventy-six percent of his shots came without taking a dribble, per NBA.com, and a whopping 88 percent came after touching the ball for fewer than two seconds. Again, though, that was his job, and he was fine with it.
“Coach always said to just stay ready and that the opportunity will come, but he just didn’t know when,” Villanueva said during his exit interview. “I just kept working on my craft, stayed sharp, and whenever my name was called, I made the most of it.”
In many respects, he has the ideal physical makeup of a modern-day power forward. He’s a slender 6′ 11″ with a wingspan just north of 7′, he can jump, and he can run. His long arms, athleticism, and extremely quick release make his three-point shot essentially unblockable — the only way to even contest his shot is to be right in his face right as he catches the ball, but he’s quick enough on the perimeter to find an open space to receive the pass. He’s a difficult player to guard.
Villanueva’s instant offensive impact shifted the momentum in several games, but he didn’t turn the tide more in any one game than he did Jan. 30 against the Miami Heat, when he scored 14 points in the second half alone as Dallas breezed past Miami with an incredible 37-2 run.
He finished with 20 points for the night, his highest total in a game in nearly two full years. Villanueva hit an impressive 6-of-11 from behind the arc. The last Maverick to take or attempt more in one game was Vince Carter in 2014.
The sharpshooter is an unrestricted free agent this summer and his prolific shooting will surely draw the attention of most teams that play four-out basketball, meaning the power forward stays on the perimeter to provide more space closer to the basket. Villanueva proved he can come off the bench instantly hot, which is a skill in itself.
However, the forward did say during his exit interview that he wouldn’t mind staying here.
“I would love to come back,” he said. “I felt like this organization gave me an opportunity, gave me a chance, took a chance on me. I’m a loyal guy and I would love to be back, but that’s not my decision. Hopefully management and my agent can work something out.”
Villanueva will be 31 by the start of training camp, but one skill that rarely diminishes too much as players age is three-point shooting, and we all know how well he can do that.
After his level of play took a bit of a downturn toward the end of his tenure with the Detroit Pistons, he took a major step in the right direction this season with Dallas, absolutely breathing life back into his career and essentially guaranteeing him another shot in the league. Big shooters like him aren’t easy to come by.
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