Remember what happened last season when Anderson Varejao went down with a season ending injury? The Cavaliers promptly went on an historic 26-game losing streak. A year later and the Cavs have injected their roster with a bit more talent (looking at you, Kyrie Irving) and I'll be damned if they go on such a skid while Andy is out this time around.
Nonetheless, when SBNation asked us to identify a guy on our team that would best be described as a "game changer," there was really no other reasonable option. It's Andy V -- the Wild Thing.
You can look to last year's disastrous season without the floppy haired seven-footer patrolling the paint to see just how huge his impact on the game is, but from the first 25 games or so of 2012, Varejao played the best basketball of his life.
Until he broke his wrist, Varejao led all qualifying players in offensive rebounding percentage. It's no secret how important offensive rebounding is to the overall outcome of a game and Varejao is simply one of the game's elite on the offensive boards. In 2012, Varejao has grabbed a whopping 15.5% of all available offensive rebounds while he's been on the floor. Consider for a moment that Kevin Love grabs 11.4% and Dwight Howard a mere 10.5%.
Andy's prowess on the glass consistently gives the Cavaliers an opportunity for second chance points. The impact that this has on a game goes beyond the box score. When a team plays solid defense for 24 seconds, forces a bad shot, only time find that Andy comes bursting in for a rebound to give the Cavs a fresh 24 second clock, it's deflating.
Do you remember the Cavs-Celtics game in Boston? Cleveland was down in the closing minutes and then missed a shot. The rebound went to Boston's Jermaine O'Neal. Knowing how crucial every possession was at that juncture, Varejao dashed in, stripped the ball from O'Neal, dove to the ground to secure it and called a timeout. The Cavs got another possession, scored and set up Kyrie Irving's game winner.
I was at that game with one of my good friends and he admittedly doesn't watch the Cavs play all that much. More than once, he said "holy crap, Varejao is everywhere".
That's right. He's everywhere. He's the heart and soul of the Cavaliers team and he plays absolutely every possession as if it's his last. He's one of the quickest low post defenders in the league and has actually developed into a pretty viable roll man for Kyrie's PnR offense.
Anderson Varejao may be hurt right now. He also may be traded later this season. But whether he stays in Cleveland or goes to a contender, he's going to continue to make his presence known.
He's relentless. He's tireless. He's a game changer.