Will Varejao Play Center In Cleveland?
With the NBA removing the center position from the All-Star ballot, many players who used to be center eligible will likely see a significant drop in the number of fan votes. Of course, many of these same players’ games more closely resemble that of a traditional power forward than that of a center. Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers may be the classic example of a power forward playing center in the NBA over the past few seasons, but apparently, that is about to change.
“It feels good (to play power forward),” Varejao said. “But to me it is kind of the same playing power forward or center, so whatever coach needs and whatever he wants me to do, I will do it.”
Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott has a very young team with a number of high draft picks that need a lot playing time in order to develop and when the team drafted Tyler Zeller in June, he finally got a true center to work with.
“We are all patient because we all understand that it is a process and it is going to take some time,” Scott said. “We are trying to build something special and we are trying to build it for the long haul, not a quick fix and with the draft picks that we have and the young players that we have here and their work ethic. I think we are headed in the right direction.
“It is hard to find guys that you would call a true center because there is just not that many in our league anymore. Tyler (Zeller) is a rookie, but he is a true center.”
Building something special in Cleveland will require the handful of remaining veterans to sacrifice and play outside of their comfort zone so young players like Tristan Thompson and Zeller can grow. Fortunately for Varejao, he can play both center and power forward and once he gets used to playing at the four spot again, Varejao should be able to provide veteran support to all of the Cavaliers’ young big men.
“I like to play both,” Varejao said. “Power forward, I get to move a little bit more. Center is a more physical game and I get to be in there fighting.”
“I really do think of Andy as a power forward,” Scott confirmed. “I think that is his natural position, but in today’s league, he can play center with no problem and he has proven that.
“I thought (Varejao) was probably a little uncomfortable because he has played at five for the last three years for me, so switching to the four spot, there were certain plays where he was just a little lost. That is why we are down there right now working with him on the four spot, so he can get that. Andy is a fast learner, so I don’t think he will have any problem learning the four spot because when he is in there with Tyler that is the position he will be playing. I love the energy and how physical they were out there together and that was something I wanted to see.”
Varejao is ready and willing to accept his new role and was quick to compliment the Cavaliers’ new rookie center.
“It was good playing with Tyler as a power forward and he was playing center,” Varejao said. “He is a smart player. He knows how to move around the basket. He knows if I am rolling, he has to replace me and if I am popping, he knows he has to roll and stuff like that.”
Coach Scott still isn’t ready to announce a starting lineup for Tuesday that includes Varejao and Zeller, but it appears to be a pairing he is committed to and it is one that makes a lot of sense for the Cavaliers. On a team with so few veterans, Scott needs Varejao to be the stabilizing influence for his young big men and that means Varejao will be playing both power forward and center for the Cavaliers this season.