Anderson Varejao, All-Star?

The last time the New York Knicks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers at home was November 29, 2006. Anderson Varejao was not about to let that date be usurped by one considerably more recent.

Recording his ninth double-double of the season in a 10-point win over the Knicks on Wednesday evening, the man whom Clevelander’s endear as “Wild Thing” pulled down a season-high eight offensive rebounds en route to a 10-point, 16-board evening.  If this wasn’t enough, the Brazilian big man added four assists, four steals, two blocked shots and drew a late-game technical foul on the Big Apple’s freshest addition in Tyson Chandler, a whistle which helped pull the likely overpaid rug right out from under New York’s feet.

Amidst the team’s recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks wherein the entire team looked lackadaisical at best, the largest surprise is that of Varejao who typically takes to the floor as if he was recently unplugged from a supercharged grid. Following the contest, Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott pulled Varejao aside to let him know that didn’t look like himself – the continually charged big man oozing effort classified as a contagion.  The result of said discussion can certainly be encapsulated within the box score, but – as is usually the case with Varejao – this only tells the beginning of the story.

In a game where Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions could not seem to get it going offensively, the Varejao-led Wine and Gold opted to clamp down defensively and allow considerably more room for error when the ball was in their possession.  During a stretch of the game where the Cavs “couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean,” as Byron Scott put everso eloquently, the entire defensive unit kept the team in the game until shots finally started to fall. Energy, effort and focus were prevalent through an entire 48 minutes – something that has undoubtedly inconsistent over the last week – and the result was a hard-earned win.

Carmelo Anthony was held to 37 percent shooting, Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t fair much better, needing 19 field goal attempts to amass 19 points. And the abovementioned Chandler? The high-priced, highly-coveted big man who was apparently worth releasing point guard Chancey Billups?

“That shouldn’t have been a technical foul,” said the former Dallas Maverick center. “[Varejao] was on my back on every play and free throw. I’m just trying to get him off so he doesn’t get an offensive rebound. Hopefully the league looks at it and sees what really happened.”

What they will see is a visibly frustrated Chandler, the victim of his direct opponent pulling down eight offensive rebounds, extending plays which helped lead to 12 second-chance points, boxing out via his right elbow being jabbed directly into the jugular of Cleveland’s No. 17. In fact, Chandler was fortunate that he did not receive a second technical foul after Varejao left a scrum with his headband askew, his hair resembling that of a mushroom cloud, and his team that much closer to the final buzzer sounding with his team the victor.

As the All-Star game draws closer, it will grow increasingly difficult to omit Varejao despite his reputation for flopping and the incredibly misconception regarding his value.  The box score, typically Varejao’s arch-enemy, shows that the Cavaliers’ center is second in the Eastern Conference in rebounds per game (11.2)  and total rebounding percentage (21.0) while possessing a lead over New Jersey’s Kris Humphries in terms of total offensive rebounds and offensive rebounding percentage (16.6).

The campaign for Varejao to be an All-Star last season was well in place prior to the big man sustaining a season-ending foot injury.  After his recent play compiled with career best totals in PER (17.5) and total rebound rate compiled with the effect which he is having on an otherwise very young and inexperienced team cannot be ignored.

Interestingly enough, Scott’s pitch from last season came after a win over the Knicks. Those poor guys just can’t catch a break, eh?

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

  • Shamrock

    Agree with all of it (talked about Varejao winning me over in another thread just a few minutes ago) that being said the Cavaliers should consider trading him IF the right offer is extended.  I can’t see Varejao’s stock ever being any higher, sorry.

  • Eli

    This post really needed the Varejao Enthusiasm Chart!!

  • porkchopxpress

    This year his stats and play alone should get him a birth on the Eastern team.  He also leads the league in categories such as, keeping balls alive at the rim, tipped balls to teammates, passess altered or dropped because of his flailing arms, players taken out of their game because they want to hit him, possessions kept alive by diving on the floor, possessions taken away by diving on the floor,  and showing young players what it means to “bring it” on a nightly basis. 

  • Anonymous

    I love the thought and the campaign will be well worth it.  But, I don’t think that he’s going to get the nod.  Do you know if the Cavs will list him as PF or C for the ballot?

    At Center:
    Dwight – obvious
    Hibbert – breakout year and Pacers MVP
    Monroe – more offensive center will leave him ahead
    Chandler – got a ton of credit for the Dallas championship, plays for Knicks.  that will usurp AV even if AV has him beat.
    Horford – hurt, so he’s eliminated at least.

    player comparison of alot of these mentioned:

    at least he should be ahead of Noah this year on the list.  and Bogut (since he can’t stay healthy).   not sure on Bargnani who gets more hype because he’s more offensive, but also has spent time with injuries.   Spencer Hawes may even get the nod over him though because he has similar numbers and is playing for a bigger “surprise” team.

  • You got it, Eli.

  • steve-o

    I was thinking the exact same thing last night. Andy is playing the best ball of his career. He’s putting up good enough stats, but his real value is in the way he plays. He gives everything he has every second that he plays. The guy would peel the skin off his knees on the court for a loose ball. In a league full of entitled, lazy ganster wannabees, that means a lot.

  • Eli

    Awesome. Excellent addition. And to make an actual comment regarding the article, I certainly think that Anderson should be an All-Star reserve at the minimum. Guys like Boozer, Amar’e, Bosh are all having pretty inconsistent seasons and none seem to obvious choice for the game.

  • Harv 21

    why I think an all-star selection selection is unlikely: his game more involves  sucking the life out of the opposition more than “beating” them with an espn highlight play. His game fills every nook and cranny that ythe opponent ignores. If you don’t properly box out, burned by a tip in or back tap. Lose track of him=back door cut lay up. Don’t secure rebound properly = tapaway. And he’s relentless like gravity, man, and that’s why guys end up elbowing him in the throat in the 4th quarter. You go out there with things you want to do and this guy is forcing you to expend all your energy on basic stuff while poking and poking you during every inbound and every break time during foul shots.

    It’s great, it’s winning basketball, but without a reliable post move, and without the look-at-me-shtick and notoriety of a Dennis Rodman, it probably won’t get you to the all-star game. 

  • Shamrock

    And no, Varejao is not an All-Star. 

  • Petisoma

    He has the biggest heart in the game and on our team, it would be a bad thing
    or can I say a “wild thing“ to trade him. We love you Andy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Elmira Frieson

    Anderson, one of the great persons of the game,hum.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite moment last time is when Tyson Chandler basically just gave up trying to box out AV the conventional way on a free throw attempt and decided to turn his back to the basket, face Varejao, and just push him back with his hands like AV was one of those football blocking sleds.  Great moment.

  • Stop for a moment and actually think about Andy playing in an All-Star game. You want to talk about completely different styles of play? If Andy brought his usual game/hustle to that exhibition fest, how many rebounds would he get? 25? How many loose balls would he chase down? How many charges could he take? Of course that last one is laughable because he wouldn’t get those calls in an all-star game.

  • Harv 21

    wouldn’t get those calls? He’d be either tossed for “unsportsmanlike attempt to disrupt alleyoop” or “playing defense during a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition.” Read your all-star game rulebook, man.

  • crowsfoot

    I’d love to see Varejao go to the All Star game and play with his normal intensity, but I can’t see it happening. Even though he should be there, he just wouldn’t fit in with the others at their yearly dunk-fest. 

  • JM

    I wonder how many players would want to fight him for daring to playing defense in that dunk-fest.

  • Douglas_souter

    This year the nba is working in AV’s favour. Play is alot more scrappy and there is more misses. This makes it ideal for AV to go wild.