NBA Fans Are Missing Just How Good Cleveland Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao Is

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05:  Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates a two point shot in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on November 5, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Cavaliers defeated the Clippers 108-101.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Anderson Varejao, Marcus Camby and Kevin Love. Over the last 10 years, those are the only NBA players to have five straight games with over 17 rebounds (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).

Swen Nater, Moses Malone, Kevin Love, Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, Kevin Willis and Truck Robinson. Those are the only guys to average over 15 rebounds per game in a season over the past 35 years, something Varejao is on pace to do this year.

Of the above players, only Malone, Love, Willis and Robinson simultaneously averaged 15 points per game, also something that Varejao is on pace for.

In short, if you aren't watching Anderson Varejao play these days, you are missing history in the making.


Finally Putting It All Together

Varejao has always been a fun player to watch. He has a big mop of hair that makes him look like a Muppet when he gets going in the post.

He never backs down and tends to always get under his opponents' skin. He is the classic "hate him when he plays against you, love him when he plays for you" guy. For many, he calls to mind another player known for such antics.

Take, for instance, Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, who gave this comparison via Detroit Free Press:

I hate to use a reference of a guy that’s in the Hall of Fame, but the closest thing I can see … is (Dennis) Rodman. I mean the guy is freaking relentless.

Every game is a carbon copy. Sometimes you make a big deal to your team about a guy getting three offensive rebounds per game. Four offensive rebounds is a big deal; he has six.

Varejao, like Rodman before him, had the tendency to take over games on the defensive end as well as through offensive rebounds.

But unlike Rodman, Varejao is doing these things while offering help on the offensive end as well. Rodman was able to exert so much of his endless energy on the glass and defensively because he wasn't asked to do anything but that. Varejao is a big part of the Cavs offense.

Part of what has made the Cavs even remotely watchable this year has been the play of Varejao in the pick-and-roll game. The way he has developed his 18-foot jumper truly has opened up the Cavs offense and made life easier for both Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

The fact that Varejao is averaging over 15 points per game is no surprise considering the amount of work he has obviously been putting into his offensive game.


Get On the Bandwagon Quickly

The Cavs are not necessarily a fun team to watch these days. Their best offensive player, Kyrie Irving, has been hurt the bulk of the season and is still some time away from rejoining his mates.

Waiters has a ton of talent, but his shot selection is iffy, and with Irving out, he has put way too much pressure on himself thus far.

Even the ugly facemasks on Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson make it somewhat difficult to watch this team.

The bulk of the roster is full of castaways and second- and third-string NBA talent. They don't always play together and are rarely playing at full strength.

The one bright spot that makes this team fun is Varejao. He truly is a sight to behold, but there are three key reasons to enjoy his play now.

First, Varejao is 30 years old. Not old by any standards, but it is rare for a player to finally reach his potential and have a career year at this age.

Secondly, Varejao has a history of injuries. In the two seasons in which he finally gained a starter role, he only played in 56 of a possible 148 games due to nagging injuries. This can be expected considering how hard he plays, but there is no telling how far away he is from another big injury.

Lastly, Varejao is not going to be kept a secret much longer. Players that have his combination of skills and mix them with intangibles that help teams win are prime real estate. And given Varejao's friendly contract, he is a grade "A" trading chip.

Does this mean that the Cavs are going to trade Andy? Not necessarily. The reasons that other teams would want him are the same reasons why the Cavs would love to keep him around.

But think about it from the Cavs' perspective: They are a young team that is still quite a ways from contention. They have some young talent, but not enough to necessarily make a run at the playoffs any time soon.

And here sits Varejao having an historically great season. He is getting older, and he has a history of injuries. Doesn't it make sense to trade him while his value is soaring?

Regardless of where Varejao finishes this season, it is high time NBA fans are clued in on this secret gem residing in the Midwest.