Season-in-Review: ANDERSON VAREJAO

Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

Season Overview: After being limited to just 81 combined games in the previous three seasons, Anderson Varejao played almost a full campaign in 2013-14, reminding fans exactly how valuable a healthy Wild Thing can be.

Before his three-year battle with the injury bug, Varejao had never played in less than 48 contests in a season – and appeared in 82 games twice. This year, Andy bounced back to play in 65 games, starting 29 before the Spencer Hawes trade at the deadline.

Varejao played well in both roles and, although his scoring numbers were down –8.4 ppg, his lowest mark since 2007-08 – he was once again one of the league’s top rebounders. Andy finished 13th in the NBA, averaging 9.7 boards per contest. That number was good enough for 5th in the Eastern Conference and helped make the Cavaliers the only squad in the East with three players – Andy (9.7 rpg, 4th), Tristan Thompson (9.2, 8th) and Spencer Hawes (8.3, 12th) – among the Top 15 rebounders.

Among Conference leaders, Varejao was 6th in offensive rebounds per game (2.9) and 6th in defensive rebounding (6.8).

On a team with only seven players born in the ‘80s, Varejao – who will turn 33 before next season begins – was the squad’s elder statesman. The Wild Thing has spent his entire 10-year career in Cleveland and, this past season, he continued his climb through the Cavaliers record books. In 2013-14, Varejao moved into 3rd place all-time in offensive rebounds, 4th place in total rebounds, 5th in defensive rebounds, 8th in steals, 8th in blocks and 9th in games played.

On Feb. 3, Varejao – a perennial favorite among fans, front office and media – tallied 10 points and five boards to become just the fourth player in franchise history to accumulate more than 4,000 points and 4,000 rebounds for his career, joining Brad Daugherty, Hot Rod Williams and Andy’s good friend, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, as the only Cavs to achieve that feat.

Anyone who’s watched Varejao over the course of his career knows that he’s equally effective as a starter as he is coming off the bench. As a starter, he tied the Cavaliers’ single-game rebound record that had stood for 42 years. As a reserve, he twice grabbed 17 boards off the bench – matching his own mark as the last Cavalier to do so, grabbing 18 rebounds against Charlotte in 2008.

This season, Andy led the Cavs in rebounding on 29 occasions and notched double-figure scoring in 26. He had 16 double-doubles this season and Cleveland was 8-8 in those games. After struggling to stay on the court in the previous three seasons, the Brazilian big man missed only 16 games in 2013-14, including a 12-game stint on the shelf with a sore back.

Overall, it was a welcome sight to see Varejao in full-uniform from the season opener through the second-to-last game of the campaign. When he’s healthy, Andy is still one of best rebounders and savviest defenders in the NBA. And he proved to be one of the best board men in the business again this year.

SEASON SNAPSHOT

  • PPG: 8.4
  • RPG: 9.7
  • APG: 2.2
  • MPG: 27.7

VIEW SLIDESHOW


Highlight: Varejao has put up some big rebounding games over the course of his career with the Cavs, but he took it to another level against Orlando on January 2 when he grabbed 25 boards – tying Rick Roberson’s franchise record set in March 1972 against Houston. In a victory over the team that initially drafted him in 2004, Andy was also 8-for-17 from the floor and 2-of-4 from the stripe for 18 points to go with three assists and a blocked shot. Eight of Varejao’s 25 boards were off the offensive glass.

Lowlight: Varejao has never measured success on the offensive end and he had another solid season without putting up big numbers. But this year, his offensive production took a slight step back. The Cavaliers have added more scorers over the past few seasons, so it’s a natural progression. But in 2013-14, Varejao didn’t crack the 20-point plateau in any game and saw drops in scoring average and shooting percentage.

Odds and Ends: With his crazy locks and charismatic persona, Varejao was always female fan favorite. But before the season tipped off, he took himself out of the market when he married his long-time girlfriend, Marcelle Silva, in Rio de Janeiro. A pair of former Cavalier teammates, Anthony Parker and Big Z (who described the wedding as “crazy”) were there for Andy’s big day. But they made up a small percentage of the revelers.

“(The wedding) was HUGE,” beamed Andy. “We got married in Rio, because she’s from Rio. My family is huge. And her friends and family are all from Rio, so everybody went to the wedding. Probably 99 percent of the people we invited from Rio went to the wedding. And then our friends from all over the world that I invited all came. So it was around a thousand people. It was crazy.”

By the Numbers: 25, 21 … Varejao’s and Tristan Thompson’s rebounding highs this past season. The last time the Wine and Gold featured two players with 20-plus rebound games in the same year was in 1994. (Michael Cage-20, Tyrone Hill-20)

Looking Forward: Varejao is not a vocal leader, preferring to lead by example. And on a young team like the Cavaliers, he sets it perfectly. Despite being the squad’s oldest player, he might its most energetic. He leaves it on the floor every night and puts up the numbers to prove it. He’s still one of the best bigs in the Conference and a Cavalier institution. He’s also the last vestige of the Cavaliers’ playoff days and one of the few current players with postseason experience. Simply put, he is – and has been – one of the most essential players on the roster.

Quotable: Varejao on climbing through the Wine and Gold’s record books throughout his career …

“It’s great to be part of the history of the Cavaliers organization, but stats were never something that I really cared about. It feels good. It feels good to know that one day I can show my kids that I’m part of the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

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