View Full Version : The Wild One

05-15-2009, 01:55 PM
The Wild One
Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer


Have you noticed that this year, the “F-word” hasn’t been used on Anderson Varejao?
Not that “F-word” – (although it’s almost guaranteed that the Wild Thing is among the league leaders as far as opponents using that word to describe him).

The “F-word” that has grown extinct in describing Anderson Varejao is “flopper” – an unjustified stigma that haters once used to marginalize the Brazilian forward’s overall game. The NBA even talked about penalizing “flopping” this past season – although it’s hard to think of an instance in which the league actually did.

That disparaging term has never truly applied to Anderson Varejao – although flummoxed foes like Rasheed Wallace would like you to believe it did. Vlade Divac flying four rows into the expensive seats every time Shaq backed into him is “flopping”; Anderson Varejao getting position and standing there while a 6-9, 250-pound thoroughbred comes at him full speed is “taking a charge.”

The reason that term hasn’t been used is because Varejao has proven, night-in and night-out, that he’s actually a pretty skilled – and rapidly maturing – big man, a contributor on the league’s top team. He supplanted a potential Hall of Famer in the starting lineup and hasn’t looked back since.

“I feel pretty good being a starter, but to me, it’s not who starts the game, but who finishes,” said Varejao. “So, while I’m starting, I’m playing more minutes, but that’s the only difference right now. I’m doing the same things I was doing when I wasn’t a starter. It’s really not a big difference.”

It may not seem like a big difference, but the numbers tell a different story. In 39 games off the bench, Varejao averaged 7.1 points on .526 shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 24.4 minutes. In a career-best 42 starts, he averaged 9.9 points on .542 shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 32.3 minutes.

Andy will never be confused with some of the more offensive-minded starting fours in the league, but he has improved his game on that end of the floor. Overall, he posted career-bests in scoring (8.6) and field goal percentage (.536). He notched a career-high 26 points against Chicago on January 9.

“I worked a lot on my offense this summer,” asserted Anderson. “My jumpshot, my finish. And I believe it’s working.”

When Andy does break double-digits, the Wine and Gold are 25-5. Overall, they’re 33-9 with him in the starting lineup.

“He’s a guy, being out on the floor with LeBron and Mo and Delonte – sometimes he doesn’t get the touches that he wants, in terms of scoring,” added Coach Mike Brown. “But he is a capable scorer and he showed it in either Game 2 (vs. Atlanta). He had nice post moves and he had some nice moves when he posted up and took guys off the dribble. He’s obviously able to step out and shoot that jump shot.”

Varejao’s offense has definitely been upgraded – in no small part because he had an entire Training Camp with the squad, a luxury he didn’t have one year earlier. But Andy’s offense is pure gravy for the Cavaliers. The man hangs his hat on defense.

Statistically speaking, was second in the NBA in offensive fouls drawn, with 52. But from a purely observational standpoint, the Wild Thing leads the NBA in driving his opponent completely berserk.

“He gets under my skin, so you can only imagine what it’s like if he’s not your teammate,” quipped Zydrunas Ilgauskas – Andy’s close friend and road dog. “So many times, I can just watch the other guys getting frustrated, frustrated, frustrated. I can feel for them because I’ve played against him in practice for so many years.

“He’s as bad in practice as he is in the games,” continued Big Z. “Maybe worse because he can get away with more. But he’s just one of those guys – maybe you can compare him to Dennis Rodman when the Bulls had him – not everything he does shows up in the stats, but you can tell he’s out there. He always guards (the opponents’) best big.”

“I’m just trying to do my best to help the team – on offense and defense,” smiled Varejao, tacitly acknowledging that he knows he drives opponents insane. “It is what it is. Sometimes, yeah, I can tell. All I’m doing is playing hard and they go crazy.”

For as crazy as he drives the opposition, he is totally beloved by his own teammates – whether he’s handing out man-hugs on the floor, blasting his celebratory Michael Jackson tunes on the team plane, or aping LeBron James’ pregame talc toss as the self-appointed “Chosen2” – (see photo, right) – which he did to the crowd’s delight in the season finale against Philly.

“I understand the league better now,” admitted Anderson. “This is my fifth year. I know what to do and I know the players I’m playing against much better now. I understand their moves better, I understand the rules better. My English is getting better this year, and that’s helped me too.”

The accomplishments the young Brazilian forward has turned in this year translate in any language. And, if he really compares to a young Dennis Rodman – as Ilgauskas asserted – that’s a good thing, too. The Worm drove opponents insane – and he has five Championship rings to show for it.


05-15-2009, 02:31 PM
Gotta love the Wild Thing!

05-15-2009, 02:34 PM
Re-sign this man!

I think the "Cavs are such and such record when so and so does this" fake stats are funny when the team is dominating all aspects of the game all season. The Cavs are 12-0 when Delonte puts hotsauce on his chicken.

05-15-2009, 03:47 PM
They are also 3-5 when JJ forgets to bring donouts.:king:

05-15-2009, 04:51 PM
The Cavs are 12-0 when Delonte puts hotsauce on his chicken.

How player is that, man?