DALLAS -- Charlie Villanueva describes his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks as a humbling experience, having had to fight for a roster spot in training camp and wait almost a third of the season to get a real crack at the rotation.
Yet you can put Villanueva in the same sentence as two of the NBA’s most confident scorers.
“I’m never shy with my shots,” Villanueva said after scoring 10 of his 13 points during a critical six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 102-98 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. “They say shooters keep shooting.”
Villanueva, a power forward with a sweet perimeter touch who was buried on the bench before the depth-depleting deal to acquire Rajon Rondo, has launched 28.2 shots (17.9 3-pointers) per 48 minutes.
You certainly won’t hear any complaints from Villanueva’s teammates. He’s been an efficient gunner, shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and a team-high 46.5 percent from 3-point range.
Those numbers have been even better during his recent stint in the rotation. Charlie V., as he’s called, has averaged 11.3 points in 13.9 minutes over the last four games, shooting 51.6 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from 3-point range during that span.
“All he needs is minutes. He can fill it up,” small forward Chandler Parsons said. “He can really shoot the ball, probably our best shooter on the roster. He just has a knack for scoring and we need that.”
Added power forward Dirk Nowitzki: “He’s got a flamethrower out there, and it’s always ready to roll. He’s been fun to watch.”
And center Tyson Chandler: “Teams can’t lose him or leave him. If they do, he makes them pay for it.”
Shooter is one term often used in the Mavs’ locker room to describe Villanueva, the 10-year veteran who accepted a non-guaranteed, veteran’s minimum contract to come to Dallas with the hopes of resuscitating a career that fizzled the last few years with the Detroit Pistons.
The other term is professional. Shooters keep shooting. Professionals keep working, no matter how many minutes they’re playing.
That’s what Villanueva did while his minutes were pretty much limited to garbage time. As a result, he was prepared to seize the opportunity presented by Brandan Wright’s departure in the Rondo deal.
“He’s kept himself ready,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The guys really respect him in the locker room. He’s one of those guys that everybody likes as a person, they respect as a player and they really respect how he’s worked through long periods of no play.
“When you have a major trade and you lose some of your unique weapons, you've got to hope that you've got some guys that are sitting over there that are ready to seize their opportunities. Charlie’s doing that right now.”