Cleveland Cavs Must Cash in on Anderson Varejao's Soaring Trade Stock to Rebuild

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Cleveland Cavs Must Cash in on Anderson Varejao's Soaring Trade Stock to Rebuild

The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in the most interesting of predicaments now that Anderson Varejao has become a legitimate star.  

In the end, however, they're going to have to make the decision to trade him for the good of the franchise.

What's even crazier, Varejao might just be the most important player in the NBA this season. That is, if Cleveland decides to move him.

Let's go on a quick a crash course on Varejao for those of you who still find him to be no more than a flopper.

Varejao's numbers don't lie. He's averaging 15.1 points and 15.3 rebounds per game, six of which are offensive rebounds. On top of that he's shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free-throw line.

His passing has improved so tremendously this season that he's suddenly one of the best passing big men in the league, averaging 3.3 assists per game, right behind the likes of Marc Gasol and Boris Diaw. Somewhere along the line something clicked, he stopped being the Wild Thing on both ends of the floor, mellowed out on offense and formed a keen eye for passing lanes and hitting cutters.

How many big men can penetrate like Andy?

He is constantly active, scores efficiently, plays vicious defense and is on a rebounding clip that only Kevin Love has seen over the course of the past five years.

Since 2008 only Love has had a longer streak of games with 15 or more rebounds (10). Varejao has grabbed 15 boards in eight straight games as Cleveland rolls into Detroit tonight.

Beyond that, Varejao is on a streak of eight games with at least 10 points, 15 rebounds and five offensive rebounds. The closest anyone has come to that in the past 25 years is Charles Barkley with six in a row back in 1990.

There's really no secret to what he does on the floor. He uses his activity and slippery thin, yet sneakily strong frame get to a spot on the floor that gives him a chance for the rebound and he jumps. If he gets a fingertip on it, it's all over.

He's one of just a few people in the league today with such an effective second jump. That is he keeps the rebound alive with a tip, lands and jumps again faster than his opponents can bend their knees to prepare another jump.

Andy might have a light dose of flubber on his shoes, it's at least worth a look.

So what would be the purpose of the Cavs giving up a guy who has been unequivocally their best player this season? Well, we're talking about a 30-year-old center who has played in all of 56 games in the previous two seasons.

He's been a perfect citizen in Cleveland, he's always played hard and he has rarely gotten into trouble with the league. 

Varejao is also more valuable than he's ever been, and at this point the value of what they can get in return is starting to outweigh what he's worth to them over the next few years.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

As a high-energy center, we've got to imagine that his peak isn't going to be nearly as long as a guy with natural skill and a body sculpted out of marble. There's going to be a fine line between peak Andy and veteran Andy; the difference between those two players is going to be huge.

Sure, there's a lot of value in a guy who can give veteran experience to a team and plays a premium position very well, but there's no way of telling what that's worth in comparison to the youth they could get for him.

When you look around at the rosters of teams around the league, is there a single team wouldn't go, "Cleveland's shopping Varejao? We've got to at least make a phone call."

For his entire career he's been described as the guy any team would love to have, but hate to play. Now he's even more than that. He's not just the pesky defender, but a dominant rebounder and wise offensive player.

The question the Cavs are going to find themselves asking over the next few weeks is about his value in the trade market. At this point we might not be talking about a few players for Varejao, we might be talking about a package.

We're talking about a guy who nails down six extra possessions for a team through offensive rebounding alone. When you include offensive fouls drawn and rebounds tapped to the outside we're probably closer to 10. What team wouldn't want that?

There are no other game-changers on the market, and Andy is all that and then some. He could be a championship-changer.

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