Fan favorite Anderson Varejao hits the court today. I stand entrenched in the “do not trade Andy” group. Detractors point to his age and injury history, but neither should be a huge concern. He turned thirty on September 28th (Happy Birthday!!); interestingly, within two weeks of Nene and Tyson Chandler, the two $60 million centers from last off-season. Those guys have played 50% and 100% more career minutes than Andy; Varejao still sports lots of tread on his tires.
Prior to injury last year, his performance reached career peak levels. Averaging eleven points and eleven rebounds; a halfway-legitimate all-star debate existed. Remember this game? A man possessed last year, these specific 20 points and 20 boards stand as one of the most single-mindedly determined efforts I recall seeing.
Regarding propensity for missed time, from 2006 – 2007 through 2010 – 2011, Andy averaged 63 games per season. He never missed a playoff game (also interesting; Nene stands at 63 and Chandler at 64 games a year during this time). Ignore last season for a few reasons. First, it was accelerated and shortened. The season stretched two months shorter and sixteen games less than normal. Second, the Cavs arguably tanked. When Drew Gooden karate-chopped Varejao on the wrist, the announced timeline for return was four-to-six weeks. The team exhibited no urgency though, and stretched it to eleven weeks. Under normal circumstances, would he return? During a typical season, six weeks amounts to 20 games…which leaves him at approximately 63.
So including the playoffs, Andy suited up for 80% of games over the last five full seasons. He was better than ever last year. What’s not to like? For eight years, Andy hustled his way into Cavs fans hearts. Now it is time to climb the record books. The seasons described above cover Andy’s ascent towards his prime. The next three seasons constitute the slow start of the slide down the career parabola. A reasonable assumption is similar production for the two timeframes. From 2006 – 2007 through 2010 – 2011, those numbers include, per game: 2.45 offensive rebounds, 5.13 defensive boards, 0.90 steals, and 0.79 blocks. If Andy played 63 games per season for the Cavs for three more seasons at those levels, he will:
- Have played the sixth most games ever for the Cavaliers; sitting only one game short of Austin Carr and 27 shy of Hot Rod Williams.
- Rise to third in Cavs history with 1539 offensive rebounds, sitting only 81 behind Hot Rod Williams for second.
- Move to fourth all time in defensive rebounds; less than one-hundred behind Lebron.
- He would rank fourth for total rebounds; only 45 short of Hot Rod.
- Climb to sixth on the franchise leaderboards for steals.
- Ascend to fifth all time in blocks, and positioned a handful of swats from moving past Lebron.
- Accumulate the seventh-highest total win shares over the Cavs’s forty years, including fourth in defensive win shares. If Andy maintains his recent rate of 3.1 defensive WS for five more seasons, he overtakes LBJ at the zenith of that list.
- Did you know that Andy, Zydrunas and Lebron currently stand tied at 71 career playoff games wearing the Wine & Gold? Next playoff game for Varejao places him alone on top.
- Currently, he ranks fourth in career playoff rebounds for Cleveland, resting four shy of Brad Daugherty and 193 from Lebron. Can Varejao play twenty-five more playoff games for the Cavs? If so, wrestling the top spot from the reigning-MVP appears likely.
- Objectively and subjectively, during the Cavs most-recent playoff season, Anderson Varejao surpassed Jim Chones to find his place as the fifth big man on the All-Time Cavs Team. With three more seasons, I move him above Hot Rod Williams, and only behind Big Z, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance.
Don’t you want to see your favorite floppy-haired Brazilian further stake his claim as a Cavalier All-Timer? How about moving LBJ down a few team leader-boards? Andy will only be 32 years old at the end of this contract. He brings much needed maturity and hard-working attitude to a young and impressionable team; a squad appearing poised to make noise by 2014 – 2015. With twelve more picks in the next three drafts and $25 million of cap space, plenty of opportunity exists to add a high-level small forward, a back-up point guard, and additional depth…without trading Andy.
So, in parting, the only reason to trade Andy remains through a James Harden sign-and-trade. I could live with that.