The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be without star center Anderson Varejao for up to eight more weeks (according to an official press release from the team website), but it’s not all doom and gloom around the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.
In fact, there have actually been a number of positive results stemming from the unfortunate knee injury that the Brazilian big man suffered.
Let’s help Cavs fans take a look on the bright side of things and highlight some of the good things that have happened since Varejao has been out of the lineup.
Tristan Thompson’s Emergence
Last year, Thompson slapped together an unexpectedly solid rookie season and was one of the few bright spots on the lowly Cavaliers.
In 2012-13, the young man out of Texas hadn’t shown much improvement over his first-year numbers—that is until Varejao’s injury opened some more minutes for the 21-year-old.
Thompson is now a double-double machine and has posted up seven of them in the past 10 games. He’s averaging an eye-catching 13.3 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 blocks on 52.5 percent shooting in 35.5 minutes over the past 10 games.
It’s clear that this 6’9” PF is going to be a cornerstone of the franchise going forward, and he needs to be on the court as much as possible in order to further his development.
What will be worth monitoring is how Cavs coach Bryon Scott massages the frontcourt minutes when Varejao returns.
Tyler Zeller’s Chance
Zeller went from backup to starter with the Brazilian’s injury, and the rookie has answered the call.
This North Carolina product was widely regarded as one of the most polished prospects coming out of college in 2012 and he has proven that so far with his steady play in Varejao’s place.
Over the past 10 games, the seven-footer is posting 9.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks in 34.4 minutes per game. His scoring numbers have the potential to go way up as well, considering the 22-year-old is shooting just 37.3 percent from the field.
If he can boost that FG percentage—and he should playing so close to the hoop—Zeller will be a true asset for this up-and-coming Cavs squad.
Lower Draft Pick
Because of Varejao’s incredible statistics this season—averages of 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists in 36 minutes over 25 games in 2012-13—the Cavs were winning games they had no business being in.
This team wasn't bound for the postseason regardless, and Varejao's presence only made it tougher for them to win the draft lottery.
Now that the 30-year-old is out of the lineup, fans are getting a glimpse of how Cleveland will really look if Varejao is traded or moved off the roster in any number of ways.
It isn’t pretty, but there is plenty of hope for this young group of talent. With Kyrie Irving leading the way, the future is bright—and will be even brighter when the Cavaliers nab a top pick in the 2013 NBA draft.