Nick Mancini checks in with his 1st of 5 questions as Cavs open training camp…
1. Will Anderson Varejao end the season in Wine and Gold?
Is it really back? Oh, basketball, how I have missed you. With my Browns and Indians almost certainly set to finish in their division’s cellar, I have much more hope for my beloved Cavs. But this season has questions, well before the Cavaliers opener on October 30.
After missing 91 games in the past two seasons, Anderson Varejao will enter the 2012-13 campaign healthy. Last season, with Andy in the lineup, the Cavs were a borderline playoff team. It is no secret what Varejao brings to the table; we all saw what happened in his absence.
In his 25 games last season, he was averaging a career best 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Varejao surprised many when he proved he was more than a byproduct of LeBron James’ no-look passes. He has developed a consistent, albeit odd-looking, mid-range jumper. He still rebounds like a man possessed and is one of the best defending big men in the League. Especially in the pick and roll.
But the fact is, he is the Cavaliers most valuable trade asset, aside from their young nucleus. Every time the Cavs were talked about in trade scenarios, Varejao was in the thick of it. Whether it was for an extra lottery pick or bringing Andrew Bynum to Cleveland, he was always the main piece. And for good reason, he is a hard player to come by these days; one willing to do the dirty work.
Varejao’s future will be mostly decided on the Cavs’ present.
We will know in the first month of games whether this team can compete or if they are still one player away. Chris Grant and company didn’t draft Tyler Zeller for no reason. They know Varejao’s days are numbered in Cleveland and it is probably up to them on the number of days.
Are they ready to hand over the reigns of the frontcourt to Tristan Thompson, Zeller and a slimmed-down Samardo Samuels? They need to be certain those guys are ready because Varejao isn’t the easiest guy to replace. Teams know what Varejao can do, but I’m going to venture a guess and say they want to see him healthy off his second injury-shortened season in as many years.
Last year it took 25 games, the year before 31. He needs to prove his intense style can hold up, because if it does, teams will come calling.
One more thing for all my Ohio State Buckeye fans: Go Huskers.