Cavaliers Lose Anderson Varejao to Torn Achilles
The Cleveland Cavaliers were regarded as potential title contenders out of the Eastern Conference. Getting to the NBA Finals just got a lot harder.
Per reports, the Cavs will have to make that deep run without center Anderson Varejao, who sustained a torn Achilles on Tuesday night and will miss the remainder of the season. It’s a huge blow for a Cleveland team depending on his inside scoring and rebounding, and could leave them wondering where they’ll find their depth in the paint the rest of the way.
Tristan Thompson is slated to step in as the starting center immediately and the Cavs are suddenly extremely thin down low. They’re in decent hands with Thompson as a starter, however, as he was solid a year ago in a big role, averaging 11.7 points and over nine rebounds per game. He’s remained an excellent offensive rebounder in a bench role to start the 2014-15 season, and should help out right away on the glass and with inside scoring.
Shawn Marion, who has been playing largely on the wing, could also be asked to play more power forward, which should have Kevin Love shifting to center when Thompson isn’t on the court.
Thompson will be tested by the opposition on the defensive end, and with Kevin Love also not posing much of a defensive threat, a Cleveland defense that was slowly improving could suddenly suffer greatly.
Thompson is actually arguably a talent upgrade over Varejao, but now they have one less guy that can rebound and block shots. With just Brendan Haywood and Louis Amundson left behind Thompson on the bench, Cavs fans can safely expect the team to make a move to try to fix their depth issues in the paint.
A trade in the near future can probably be expected to shore up their front line. Pure speculation could have players like Dion Waiters, Joe Harris and/or draft picks on the move to acquire some extra depth. The team could also look to free agency, where guys like Kenyon Martin, Ivan Johnson, Lamar Odom, Jermaine O’Neal, Andrew Bynum and/or Emeka Okafor could all suddenly look like very attractive options.
Cleveland currently sits at a respectable 17-10, which is good for second in their division and at the moment the East’s fifth seed. If they stay around that spot, they could end up facing the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the playoffs. Without Varejao’s size down low (and if the Cavs can’t find extra help), Cleveland could be in serious trouble going up against a team like Washington, that has an endless supply of talented big men.
Needless to say, betting on the Cavaliers to win it all prior to somehow adding reinforcements down low just became a very risky proposition.
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