Thereâ€™s also this issue, which seems to get forgotten a lot during deadline talk. Anderson Varejao is the second-best player on the Cavaliers. Itâ€™s true. Say it aloud. Itâ€™ll help it sink in. As crazy as it sounds, the guy with the crazy hair who looks like he could get knocked over by a stiff breeze, has no game outside of 10 feet to speak of, and doesnâ€™t dunk on people has become an absolutely vital piece for the Cavs.
How would Andy be able to play next to Amare? They would both need too many minutes to never play with each other. Almost all of Varejaoâ€™s offensive game is predicated on him setting the screen up high and/or cutting around the hoop and looking for easy baskets. When Amareâ€™s in the game, it would be foolish not to use him in the high pick-and-roll offensively and try to set him up with as many dunk opportunities as possible. Andy canâ€™t stretch the floor in those situations. Will there be enough space for Andy to be effective in the same lineup as Amare and LeBron? They might be able to figure it out. Or they might not be able to be, and the Cavs end up losing all of their momentum.
Paroxi-Wife largely ignored the NBA for the first year of our marriage. Then, sometime in her second season, she looked up, saw Varejao throw himself to the floor needlessly (again), and asked “WHAT is that?!”
And so I had to explain Anderson Varejao to my wife. Yes, that is his hair, not a ceremonial headdress. No, he’s not hurt. Yes, he just falls over. No, he cannot shoot. Yes, he’s a pretty good rebounder. No, he has no touch. Yes, he’s a professional basketball player. No, he’s not really a basketball player.
And from there, as she evolved into a Cavs fan, she formed a nickname for him and a theory. Her name for him is Flopsy, and her theory is thus:
“Flopsy is paid to do three good things a game. That’s it. Three. Anything else he does is gravy. As long as he does three positive basketball things per game, he has earned his salary.”
I was stunned. That’s pretty much the most accurate description of Anderson Varejao’s game and contract situation I’ve ever heard, to this day. When he received his extension to boost him to six million, she posited that he now has to do six good things a game. Usually he fails. But that’s the current level to justify the contract.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if Anderson Varejao is your second best player? You have problems. I don’t care what your record is. I don’t care that you beat the Lakers. I don’t care that you have the best basketball player on planet Earth (and probably any other, assuming, they’ve managed to pick up on the concept, and integrate it). If Anderson Varejao is your second best player, you need to do something in order to make it to where Anderson Varejao is not your second best player.
There’s a lot of talk about Amar’e going to Cleveland and his defensive problems, but I’ve said for a long time that I think A. his problems are cover-able in a good defensive system with a good defensive coach and B. he’s still coachable. We’re not looking at a complicated defensive scheme or a straight-man system, even. The Cavs are brilliant because they know how to help effectively. If you give Amar’e backup, he’s going to be fine. I still think Jamison is the better option, because he would fit in seamlessly, but after looking at the numbers, there’s no way to think that Stoudemire wouldn’t be better in the pick and pop, which is where you really need him.
Besides, at least he’s not Flopsy.