This year the Cleveland Cavaliers have three players on the NBA All-Star ballot.
First comes forward Antawn Jamison. Jamison is enjoying a solid year, putting up averages of 15.3 points and 5.4 rebounds with a player efficiency rating of 16.46.
Nice, but not All-Star worthy.
Rookie Kyrie Irving is also putting together a strong Rookie of the Year campaign with 17.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game. Good enough numbers to make an All-Star team? Maybe, but with the plethora of talented guards in the Eastern Conference, Irving won't make it this year.
This leaves Anderson Varejao for the Cavs, the 29-year-old, seven-year NBA veteran who has never made the team before. For the year he doesn't even average double digits in scoring. Those who haven't watched his game recently would say he's only a flopper, and nothing more.
I'm here to say Anderson Varejao deserves to be an NBA All-Star, and here are five reasons why.
Varejao is regarded as one of better defensive big men in the game, and possibly the best pick-and-roll defender in the entire league.
While he doesn't block a lot of shots, he does a tremendous job of altering shots, annoying other big men with his activity and playing the passing lane.
He averages 1.3 steals a game, leading all East centers not named Dwight Howard.
The Cavaliers were a completely different team when Andy went down with an injury last year and were forced to start (gasp) Ryan Hollins.
Other centers may block more shots, but next to Howard there is no better defensive center in possibly the entire league than Varejao.
Across the board, Varejao is enjoying a career year in just about every statistical category. The stat that sticks out the most, and is probably the one by which most centers are measured, is rebounding.
Varejao is second in the entire Eastern Conference in rebounding, and first overall in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game and total rebounding percentage.
Taking away Dwight Howard, some of the other All-Star candidates in the East stack up like this:
|Player, Team|| |
Total Rebounds Per Game
|Offensive Rebounds Per Game||Rebounds Per 48 Minutes|
|Anderson Varejao, Cavs||11.1||4.4||17.1|
|Tyson Chandler, Knicks||10.2||3.6||14.5|
|Roy Hibbert, Pacers||9.8||3.3||15.9|
Greg Monroe, Pistons
Javale McGee, Wizards ||9.3||3.1||15.3|
|Joakim Noah, Bulls||9.1||3.6||15.6|
Varejao is the clear winner in every major rebounding category.
A coach is obviously going to pull for his own players, but Cavaliers head man Byron Scott has gone out of his way to endorse Varejao as an All-Star this season.
“Most of the guys on the All-Star team are doing great, but their team is also doing real well,” Scott said. “Right now, I really don’t see anybody who’s playing better (than Varejao).”
Scott obviously recognizes talent, playing on three championship Laker squads and coaching the likes of Jason Kidd and Chris Paul.
Despite this, Scott is usually quick to point out what his players need to work on and then focus on the positives. Because of this, his compliments towards Varejao should not be taken lightly.
Perhaps no center is as valuable to their team than Andy is to the Cavaliers.
Only Kyrie Irving has a higher player efficiency rating on the Cavs than Varejao, as Andy is averaging a career high PER of 17.3.
Consider this list of East centers and what they mean to their team.
|Player Name, Team||PER Team Ranking||Team Wins|
Tyson Chandler is tied with Varejao, but consider he has the benefit of playing with two superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire that consistently draw double-teams, leaving Chandler open for uncontested dunks quite often that drive his PER up.
Only Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers has a higher PER team ranking and team wins combination than Varejao, and he has the luxury of playing with All-Stars Danny Granger and David West.
According to the second All-Star ballot return as found on NBA.com, the leading vote getters for center look like this:
1. Dwight Howard, Magic
2. Joakim Noah, Bulls
3. Tyson Chandler, Knicks
4. Joel Anthony, Heat
Seriously? It's well-documented that the All-Star game is typically a popularity contest, but this is ridiculous. Howard is the obvious choice, but Noah is having a down year, Chandler is benefiting from the Knicks fans worldwide and Joel Anthony, well, what is there to say? The man averages under four points a game with a PER of just over seven.
Varejao making the All-Star team would help add some credibility to it, and (gasp) some defense as well.
Don't let Joel Anthony be an All-Star.