Anderson Varejao could be having his best season in the NBA. He could be on his way to a Sixth Man of the Year Award and is quickly proving to the rest of the NBA what we've known for awhile - Varejao is a lot more than a big hairdo and drawn offensive fouls. Andy is a sparkplug for the Cavaliers and when he is playing well the Wine and Gold are very tough to beat.
We now have another example, since the NBA now considers Plus-Minus an official statistic. Used in the NHL for ever, Plus-Minus is a good indication of the impact and energy a player brings to the floor.
The Cavs outscored the Nets by 14 points today when Anderson Varejao was on the court in their 94-86 victory over New Jersey, which moved the Brazilian into first place overall in the NBA’s plus-minus category.
Plus-minus measures how much a team outscores or is outscored by an opponent when any given player is on the court, and Cleveland has outscored opponents by 309 points when Varejao has been on the court in his 33 games.
With the Lakers off Saturday night, that means Varejao held the overnight plus-minus lead over the plus-306 of the Lakers’ Ron Artest, who has been sidelined since sustaining a concussion in a fall at his home on Christmas night.
(Tangential note: During training camp, Pat Riley pointed out to Dwyane Wade that last season was the first time he had eclipsed plus-700 for a season in his career. Riley, ever the motivational master, then told Wade that Michael Jordan registered plus-700 nine consecutive times.)
I found the Pat Riley story an interesting one. Riley is considered a master-motivator, especially of star players and teams that need motivated. Plus-Minus is the type of stat that, in a lot of ways, shows how motivated a player is.
The second part of Broussard's stroy talks about Mike Brown's decision to bring Varejao off the bench instead of having him start the game -
"I play Hickson with Shaq because I want to play Andy the whole game, but I can’t play him the whole game. So I decided to start J.J. because in the first eight minutes of the game, we’re not going to win or lose it," Brown said. "So if I play him 8 minutes in the first half and 8 in the second, that’s 16 minutes I don’t have to play Andy and it’s really not going to affect the game. A lot of times now, if you watch our games lately, when Andy goes in he ain’t coming out. I don’t care if Z is in or Shaq’s coming back in.
"It’s just at the start of the game it makes more sense for me and for the team to have someone else, and not play Andy 38-39 minutes a game. But his value to us with whoever’s on the floor is off the charts."
Credit Mike Brown for one thing, he is usually brutally honest when it comes to answering questions like this. It was obvious to me, and all of us, that the Cavaliers really missed Andy's energy when the 2nd unit came on the floor - especially with Z struggling to accept the role and Delonte West MIA at times. Now that Brown has found a rotation that is bringing success, regardless of the reason, you stick with it.
We all knew Anderson Varejao meant a lot to the Cavaliers - now there are numbers to back it up.