Starting Five: The week’s best NBA players

February 1, 2012

By Jack Maidment

The Week’s Best

@Derrick Rose. His Bulls may have lost, but my goodness did the MVP earn his pay cheque against the Miami Heat last Sunday. The numbers (34-6-6) don’t do him or his importance to Chicago justice. Nor do they tell you how hard he had to work to get them, hitting all manner of bankers and floaters and generally dominating the paint.

His performance against Miami was far from a one-off surge either as he has at least 34 points in each of his last three games (two wins and a loss). Rose is better than last year and last year he was the best in the league. Math.

@Deron Williams. I feel sorry for Deron. He has nobody to play with on the Nets and the likelihood of help this season is looking remote. That said, at least he is making the most of the situation by padding his stats and putting on one hell of an audition for all of next year’s free agents.

‘Come play with me! Look what I can do with these scrubs! Imagine what I can do with someone who has a pulse!’ Winning more than one game in a row may be starting to feel like a forgotten memory for the former Jazz point guard, but he is getting his. 34-7, 24-6 and 27-10 in his last three. And that’s with Johan Petro on the floor.

@Anderson Varejao. Yes, he is overpaid. And yes, his hair is ridiculous. But the Brazilian All-NBA energy guy is still going to be drawing furtive glances from contenders across the league. His game (90% energy, 10% grit and determination) is tailor made for a good team, wasted on a bad one.

And you better believe the Cavaliers are a bad team. They are no Charlotte Bobcats, but still. Varejao submitted two great ‘come get me!’ games against Boston this week, recording his first ever 20-20 in one of them. Only problem is his contract, otherwise he’d be else where by now.

@LeBron James. He was here last week and to be honest his play of late has made me convert fully and with total conviction to the Church of LeBron. I don’t care if The Decision was a terrible idea anymore. I don’t care that he doesn’t shoot so well in the fourth quarter. I care about how he makes his teammates better, how he runs the floor like a hot-pokered rhino and finishes at the rim like he’s half-man half-Mjolnir.

I care that he is submitting one of the greatest seasons by anyone ever (29-8-7). I care that LeBron makes basketball unbelievably fun to watch. Three wins in a row this week and James was imperious in all of them.

@Brandon Rush. Wildcard! Yes. Good times. Rush is leading the NBA in 3pt% coming off the bench for the Golden State Warriors (just in case you didn’t know where he was). He is chipping in almost 10 points a game, but more than that he makes the Warriors’ second unit go. You need to see the crowd reaction when he enters the game. It is unbelievable. Brandon Rush. Who knew?


Dwyane Wade over Anderson Varejao: Dunk of the Season?

November 13, 2009


by Jack Maidment

Dunk of the Season?

So you’ve just got your 6 year, $40 million dollar contract. You’re feeling pretty good because the Cleveland Cavaliers have elected to pay you more money than just about anybody had anticipated. To be honest, you can’t quite believe that you’ve got this lucky.

Not only do you have no financial worries, but you’re also in the enviable position of playing on one of the NBA’s elite teams alongside basketball’s best player, LeBron James.

You remind yourself everyday that life as Anderson Varejao is pretty damn good.

It appears that the bubble of tranquility that you live in is impenetrable. Sure, you may lose a few games and not start the season as hot as last year, but you are safe in the knowledge that everything will be alright in the end.

Unfortunately, on the night that you and Cavs role into Miami, Dwyane Wade has had a bad day.

His General Manager still wont commit to new players to actually help him.

He is still only the 3rd best player in the NBA despite an individual effort last year that was unrivalled.

The more he thinks about it, Dwyane Wade starts to get angry. Real angry. Like Hulk Smash angry.

He doesn’t talk to his teammates before the game, he just sits, growling, whilst ripping phone books in half with his bare hands.

He hits the court and sees Varejao and his ‘life is good’ grin. ‘Oh hell no’. That’s the match to the lighting paper. Wade steals the ball, drives down the floor and elevates over the Brazilian, finishing with so much ferocity that you can actually see Varejao’s world start to crumble before totally disintegrating by the time his frame hits the floor.

Suddenly the world is not so rosy.

Being the victim of the dunk of the season can do that to a man.

Cleveland Cavaliers re-sign Anderson Varejao. For $50 Million.

July 9, 2009
"I know! I can't believe it either."

"I know! I can't believe it either."

by Jack Maidment

8.6 points per game coupled with 7.2 rebounds. Not exactly stellar numbers you will say. Not enough to warrant any major amount of noise. Steady numbers surely deserving of steady money.

I’m not sure if I just transferred from a parallel universe where the world is indeed in the midst of economic turmoil to one where the cash fairy has visited a large number of NBA teams, but Anderson Varejao, the owner of those middle of the road numbers, has just agreed to a 6 year, $50 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

People may say that players like Varejao bring more to the table than points and rebounds, but all the little things he may do on the court, all the hustle and floppy hair surely do not combine to warrant $50 million?

$50 million. I’m pretty sure that right now Danny Ferry is taking a polygraph test downtown.

“Are you Steve Kerr in disguise?” asks the cop. Ferry looks nervous.

The laws that once governed the distribution of green in the NBA appear to have been broken.

Varejao will be rubbing his hands with glee as he anticipates his $8 million a year pay packet while Allen Iverson, a modern great who still has gas in the tank, mulls over a $5 million deal to play off the bench in a Grizzlie uniform.

Aint that some ish.