Varejao feeling healthy after tough four years without LeBron

Anderson Varejao hopes to remain healthy as he competes with Brazil. (Photo courtesy FIBA)

Anderson Varejao is using the FIBA World Cup to prepare for a title run with the Cavaliers. (Photo courtesy FIBA)

GRANADA, SPAIN – Derrick Rose isn’t the only player looking to use the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as a springboard to a healthier and more successful NBA season for a title contender.

Cavs center Anderson Varejao would love to put some injury issues behind him as well. In the four years since LeBron James left Cleveland, Varejao, who turns 32 later this month, has averaged just 37 games per season, dealing with injuries to his upper and lower body.

James is back and Kevin Love has arrived. With Kyrie Irving and a bunch of shooters, the Cavs’ offense should be ridiculously good. But their defense will ultimately determine how far they go, and Varejao will be a big part of their success on that end of the floor.

With Mike Brown on the bench and Varejao playing 65 games last season, the Cavs improved from 27th to 17th in defensive efficiency. And they allowed 4.4 fewer points per 100 possessions with Varejao on the floor than they did with him on the bench.

The Cavs lack rim protection, but the last two seasons in which they had James and (a healthy) Varejao together, they ranked in the top 10 defensively. Brown was the coach then. David Blatt, who has had strong defenses with the Russian National Team, is the coach now.

As Blatt gets ready to put his new super team together on both ends of the floor, Varejao is in Spain with his Brazilian national team, a contender for a World Cup medal. Brazil is in a tough Group A, where it will play Spain on Monday (4 p.m. ET).

In Granada, after a win over Iran on Saturday, Varejao spoke with NBA.com about his health and the upcoming season.

NBA.com: How do you feel now compared to the last couple of years?

Varejao: I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m 100 percent. I feel like I’m moving a lot better. I’m healthy. I feel like I’m in shape. So this helps a lot.

Does this tournament really help you get your legs back and get back in basketball shape?

Varejao: Yes, it does. I believe the preparation that we had was about 40 days. And now we have the tournament. I just want to stay healthy.

How do you look back at the last four years, not only not playing with LeBron, but not being able to play a full season?

Varejao: Tough four years for me. It was very tough on me. It wasn’t easy, because every year that I was doing well, people were talking about All-Star, this and that, and then I would get hurt. So it wasn’t easy, but it’s all past now. The good thing is that I’m in shape, I’m healthy, and I’m looking forward to the next season.

How good can the Cavs be defensively?

Varejao: To me, defense is all about effort. If we put effort in, I believe we could do really well.

Have you talked to David Blatt?

Varejao: I did when he signed. I spoke with him during the soccer World Cup. I was in Brazil and he called me. I spoke with him once.

What do you know about him?

Varejao: I know that he’s a winner. He won the Euroleague last year. When he was with Russia he beat Brazil in the Olympics. With six seconds left in the game, they beat us.

He’s a good coach. He’s a winner. Everybody that I asked about him said good things about him. Anthony Parker played for him [at Maccabi Tel Aviv]. He said he’s one of the best human beings that he’s met and he’s a great coach.

Do you feel like you fit pretty well with Kevin Love on the frontline?

Varejao: I feel like I have to do what I always did when I played with LeBron, set screens, roll to the basket, be ready whenever I have a chance to go to the basket, play defense and rebound.

25 Comments

  1. jdub455 says:

    varejao’s health will be key for the cav’s title run…

  2. lbj says:

    Feeling healthy after 4 years will not win anderson varejao a ring. He needs to focus on playing point center for our “king” lebron. Only then will he win a ring.

  3. ko0kiE says:

    he’s underrated because he isn’t an athletic, flashy guy..

  4. derick carmon says:

    CHEMISTRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Tripdaddy says:

    Lebron had less talent in 2007 and the Eastern Conference was much stronger but he took the Cavaliers to the championship series. Kevin love is the best power forward in the league, kyrie irving top three point guard, verajai
    (Noah) like center then the greatest player on the planet (gpop) IN lebron James he will get three championship in Cleveland then 1 for the Cleveland Browns!

  6. Jonathan Mendez says:

    Tony C. your dumb best nba team we seen. You know nothing bout basketball. Best team is the spurs winning w basketball players not superstars. Let em play in the west will show them what good teams are about.

  7. hilljr says:

    Cannot underestimate how important Andy Veredjao is to Cleveland next year. Since he started playing big minutes (06) he and LeBron have never played on a team that ranked outside the top 10 in defense. His effort is gonna be essential to Clevelands success. If the Cavs find a way to grab Mosgov on top of Keeping Veredjao, the NBA is in trouble. They would sport a nine man rotation that could match just about anyone Irving, Waiters, LBJ, Love, Mosgov, and Veredjao, Thompson, Marion, and Miller off the bench. Ouch!

  8. CM Diaz says:

    Wait a minute… I thought Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas both retired?. any way neither of them should be playing any kind of basketball.Let’s see if management makes the same mistakes this time around with Lebron James –I hope the Cavs do trade for Moskov who would be excellent as their center.

  9. dustydreamnz says:

    I’m a fan of Varejao but I think the Cavs will struggle more than most people think this year due to defensive and chemistry issues.

  10. #KarlComeHome says:

    This will be a great team, especially when they finish the deal with Shawn Marion, but they will have a very hard time beating either the Spurs or OKC in the finals (That’s IF they get there).

  11. Tony C. says:

    I believe the Cavaliers will win the most games in the regular season and then win the NBA Finals. With a healthy Varejao, Lebron, Love, Irving, and Waiters, nobody can beat them. This is going to be a historic NBA season for the NBA.

    I believe the Cavaliers will do something really special this upcomming season of historic NBA proportions.

    People were talking about Varejao being the best center in the league before he got hurt a couple seasons ago. And then, I remember when I was hearing this, a few days later, Varejao played the Howard Lakers and he dunked on Howard like it was nothing. That was impressive!

    • DenH says:

      They wont make the finals, not with the iron curtain defense that chicago play, as good as james is, this is his first season with guys that play worse defense than bosh and wade, and have no postseason experience, when bostons big 3 got together, garnett and pierce had been to the conference finals before, allen had been carrying the bucks and sonics for years, they meshed well together offensively and defensively, i dont see the same happening to the cavs.

  12. Vish says:

    1st of i wan a say that RYBTHEBEAST you don’t know basketball. Dwade and Bosh are all star caliber players and they hv been an Allstar for almost their whole carreer. Winning two championship and going to 4 finals are hard and earned Accomplishment and read up on how many teams ever went to 4 straight finals. FYI.. I love SAN ANTONIO TOO but they fact that they have never repeat in their franchise history since having coach pop and Timmy for almost 2 decades proved that going to the NBA FINAL is a tough thing to do once let alone two times and THREE AND FOUR. MIAMI HAD A 27 GAME WINNING STREAK. 2ND ALL TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA. READ UP ON NBA THEN COMMENT. FOOL. U R A DISGRACE TO THE NBA UNIVERSE

  13. RyBTheBEA$T says:

    Rich…what are you talking about man. Kyrie and Love are not game changing players…BRUH…simply put…you are crazy…not even talking statistically…just play making ability…I would take Kyrie and Love over (a current) Wade and Bosh all day errrrr day. Now if you are talking 2006 Wade aka THE FLASH then its a different story. I don’t know what universe you are living in that 4 Finals appearances and 2 rings isn’t impressive…but hopefully they start growing what you are smoking here on EARTH because I’m trying to go stupid dumb like you.

  14. kevin says:

    I think the cavs are going to have a good year. I would have loved to see Andrew wiggins play with LaBron James and kyrie erving. Great job at getting kevin love cavs, but Andrew wiggins is waiting to play you guys. Lol have a good your.

  15. Achaa says:

    A better Anderson, finally someone who can rebound, an allstar point guard who can shoot the ball, the european Pop, and last but not least a great bench. That’s all you can ask for as the best player in the universe.

    • Rich says:

      And you are going to be here making excuses for Lebron when he fails to win with this team. Kyrie and Love are not game changer guys like Wade and Bosh are. Even with those odds Lebron had with Wade and Bosh, he only managed to go 2-2, which is not that impressive considering the weapons he had.

      • theking0522 says:

        Stop hating! 2-2 is impressive. You were one of the clowns saying that Lebron wasn’t going to win a ring with Miami. You picked the Thunders in 2012 and Spurs in 2013. 2 Rings sound good to me, considering that you didn’t give him a chance to win even 1.

      • Rich says:

        Are you serious the king0522? Silly name by the way, but I was not one of people who thought Lebron wouldn’t win a ring down here in my hometown. In fact I knew he would win because he took a shortcut and made his odds easier by playing with a prior FMVP in D.Wade and a all star forward who lead the raptors to two playoff berths in Chris Bosh. Lebron made his path easier by playing with proven established players who led their respective teams to winning records and a championship. What have Love or Kyrie led the Cavaliers or Timber wolves too? I’ll wait? Lebron is overrated because Durant, Kobe, Melo, Dirk, Duncan, and Rose(without injury) would have won those two rings with Miami if you have them switch places with Lebron. Lebron will exposed because he has downgraded the personnel around him in terms of experience, IQ, and clutch defining moments. He will not win with this team because nobody on this team will have his back like D.Wade did. Love cannot create like Bosh can, Marion is not as smart of a defender as Battier is, Mike Miller is older, and they do not have rim protectors like Bird-man.

      • georgiared says:

        “Kyrie and Love are not game changer guys like Wade and Bosh”

        The ignorance of this statement alone shows your lack on basketball intelligence

      • Rich says:

        When Lebron does not win with these guys in two to three years please do not come on here making excuses about Love and Kyrie not being on Wade or Bosh’s level.

  16. harriethehawk says:

    I agree, I also hope he stays healthy. He’s had a rough 4 years. I’m looking forward to that game today against Spain. Should be a good one.