Anderson Varejao is no stranger to Oracle Arena. He’s walked out onto this floor to take part in some of the biggest games of his career over the past twelve years, but Tuesday night was a different occasion altogether. As he came out to warm-up with his team mates, Varejao was greeted with cheering fans, rather than feeling like he’d stepped into a war-zone. Although he was picked up off the waivers by Golden State after being traded to Portland a few weeks ago, Tuesday night was the first time that the Brazilian walked onto Oracle’s hardwood as a Golden State Warrior.
Normally when a team picks up a player off the waivers it isn’t a huge deal, but in this case, bringing Anderson Varejao into this Warriors team could provide an already potent team with yet another edge over their Eastern Conference rivals. If Cleveland knew that their former center would end up on the team that defeated them in last year’s Finals, would they have even traded him in the first place?
After battling against the Warriors in last year’s Finals, it’s looking highly likely that the Cavs could be back for another shot at redemption in June, making this pickup huge for the Dubs. Not only are they adding even more depth to an already cavernous bench, but they are bringing in a player with the inside knowledge that could be crucial in taking the upper hand in a finals series.
Speaking to starting5online after an overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks, Varejao said, “It felt great to be out there for the first time, it helps when you win. The crowd showed me some love, so I’m happy with that. I just want to get my rhythm back and help this team in case they need me.”
After spending the majority of the 2014-15 season sidelined by injury, this season Varejao has bounced back averaging 10 minutes a game in 31 outings for the Cavs, while playing a key role coming off the bench. In his first three games with the Warriors, Verajao has already looked at home with his new team and shown no problems adjusting to the Golden State style of basketball. However, he does need to get used to running the floor a lot more than he did in Cleveland.
“Here it’s a lot more running,” he said. “Lots of running. Running up and down, a lot of swings and pick-and-rolls and stuff. At the moment I need to get in a better basketball shape, and I’m working on that. I just want to help this team.”
Given that the Warriors are dominating the league, it was no surprise to hear that Cleveland have been trying to replicate the fast style play that Golden State have become so famous for executing.
“Golden State play a lot faster than Cleveland, and that’s what Cleveland is trying to do now,” Varejao stated.
A personal highlight for Varejao when joining the Warriors has been that he has been able spend more time with his national teammate, Leandro Barbosa. Some of the other Warriors players have already spoken about the rise of Brazilian in-jokes between the pair appearing on the practice court over the past few weeks as Varejao and Barbosa have taken to their native language.
“We’ve been enjoying playing together and we’ve been on the national team for a long time,” Varejao explained. “Barbosa’s been great to me here; he’s been helping me with the city and with the other guys, I’m just happy to be here with him.”
Varejao is no stranger to international players – for the past three seasons he’s played alongside Australian Matt Dellavedova in Cleveland, so when we asked if he’s happy be on a team with another Aussie in Andrew Bogut, Verajao told us how much he liked playing with Australians, and spoke very highly of his time with Dellavedova.
“I like Australians. Delly was a great team mate, we had some good years together. He’s one of my favourite team mates, and people, of all time,” the affable Brazilian said.
The Warriors have been breaking records all season and don’t look like slowing down anytime soon, so when you go and add another playoff veteran coming from a winning culture to the mix, things start to get very scary for anyone who is unlucky enough to face the defending champs.
Will anyone be able to shut down these guys?
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