Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao will miss his 10th straight game on Monday, as the team is already in Chicago for their Monday night matchup with the Bulls. With each successive game that Wild Thing misses for the energy-deprived Cavaliers, the NBA trade deadline approaches ever so closer – 3 p.m. on Thursday, February 21 to be exact. During Varejao’s absence, there have been two glaring trends happening during that time.
Those include a positive correlation between the number of games Andy has missed and the play of Tristan Thompson since the sidelining of Varejao on December 19 and the negative correlation of Thompson’s job as the interior force and the number of days leading up to February 21. Although Vareajo’s on-court presence may be repelling teams from making trade talks with the Cavaliers front office, the newfound aggressiveness and board-hoarding play of Thompson may have increased Cleveland’s interest in dealing the longtime Cavalier big man.
To put this into perspective from a statistical standpoint, let’s take a look at Thompson’s numbers in the nine games that Varejao has been out:
- The sophomore power forward has averaged 13.2 points, with a high of 19 against the Charlotte Bobcats
- Varejao, through 25 games, has averaged 14.1 points, with a season-high of 35 points against the Brooklyn Nets (November 13)
- Thompson has averaged 12.9 boards, and is currently eighth in the NBA in offensive rebounds on the season (averaging 3.64 rebounds) and fifth over the past two weeks (averaging 4.40 rebounds)
- Andy is still first in the NBA in regards to rebounds per game, with an average of 14.4 boards (averaging 5.52 rebounds on the offensive glass)
- The No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft is shooting an even 50 percent from the field, attempting 9.8 shots during the span of the last nine games
- Wild Thing has shot 47.8 percent from the field this season, the third-lowest mark of his nine-season NBA career
Shot Blocking (Cavs rank last in the NBA as a team)
- The former Texas Longhorn has rejected 1.1 blocks on average, and is averaging 0.7 blocks on the season
- Varejao has averaged 0.6 blocked shots so far in the 2012-13 NBA season
- Tristan has clocked in 36.3 minutes per game since Varejao has been out, and before then he was averaging 29.3 minutes
- Varejao is leading the Cavaliers in MPG this season (averaging 36.0 minutes)
-At the rim – 60.7 percent
-3-9 feet – 32.3 percent
-At the rim – 62.5 percent
-3-9 feet – 30.0 feet
The numbers are similar, but the point that I’m trying to get across is that Thompson has grown up immensely when the team needed him. Most, including me, doubted that the starting power forward would emerge as a pivotal contributor in all aspects of the game this season. Seven double-doubles in the past nine contests is the output that I wanted from Thompson down the road when the Cavaliers initially drafted him. He’s already shown he can be that kind of threat, and his follow-through mentality has been one of the brightest spots during this mini stretch.
With that said, I think Varejao trade talks will, again, start to heat up. On Saturday we saw rumors of the Cavaliers being in talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves according to reports from the News-Herald. The presumed trade, which is said to be nowhere near close to happening, would send back power forward Derrick Williams. The Cavs would also be interested in nabbing center Nikola Pekovic, and Kevin Love would not be in the question at all.
Williams is currently averaging 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in his second NBA season, while Pekovic has been making noise as of late. He recently had games of 21 points and 15 rebounds against the Portland Trail Blazers and 28 points and 11 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns over the past five games. He is averaging 15.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 0.9 points, while shooting 50.3 percent from the field in his third season.
Personally I wouldn’t take this deal (Varejao for Williams and Pekovic) even with additional pieces or draft picks, but I’m apt to listen to what other teams have to offer. I’m very impressed with the recent play of Thompson, so any and all Varejao trade talk will make my ears perk in the coming weeks.