Andrew Bogut

Preserving Draymond Green: Warriors sign Anderson Varejao

The Warriors pounced on recently waived center Anderson Varajao yesterday, signing him to the prorated veteran’s minimum (provided he passes a physical in Atlanta later today). Golden State waived Jason Thompson, a corresponding move that makes sense because Thompson failed to look like a viable NBA player since joining the team.

Everything about the Varajao signing makes sense.

  • He’s a cheap center.
  • The Spurs wanted him, too.
  • He’s better than Jason Thompson.
  • If he’s half as fun as the incumbent Brazilian, Leandro Barbosa, he should have a positive effect on the Warriors’ already-strong locker room.
  • Mo Speights’ output is consistently inconsistent, and he isn’t necessarily adept at defending or rebounding over bigger players.
  • Andrew Bogut missed Saturday night’s win over the Clippers due to Achilles pain.
  • The Warriors are without Festus Ezeli (left knee) for the foreseeable future.

That last part is rather ominous due to Ezeli’s history. Everyone says he’ll return by the end of the regular season and that could be the case, as arthroscopic surgery is far less serious than a procedure to repair a torn ligament. However, fans of the Warriors will remember two seasons ago, after Ezeli underwent surgery on his other knee in June of 2013. There was hope he’d return in January … then in February … then in March. Ezeli ended up missing the entire regular season AND the Warriors’ playoff series against the Clippers.

***

Draymond Green had a fun exchange with reporters two nights ago, as described by ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss:

When asked about finishing five layups over Los Angeles Clippers center and bouncing port crane DeAndre Jordan on Saturday, the Golden State Warriors’ ever-versatile Draymond Green made a succinct declaration of his powers: “Best center in the league.”

He soaked up the pause that followed, stone-faced. Finally, he revealed the declaration to be a deadpan when he cracked a smile and added, “Nah, I’m just playing.”

Another ESPN writer, Kevin Pelton, called Green the NBA’s best center 82 days ago, and the results from Golden State’s small-ball lineup speak for themselves. But despite Green’s triple-doubles, physical strength, competitive nature and ability to do it all, he isn’t Superman. Fatigue hits every human at some point, and we’ve seen its effects on Green on occasion.

“I ask Draymond if he’s tired. If he says no, I leave him in. If he says yes, I leave him in. It’s a very scientific approach,” Steve Kerr said after Green played 84 minutes in the first two games of the 2015 playoffs against New Orleans.

But Green does get tired on occasion.

“I don’t say (I’m tired) much. I think I played the whole third quarter and then like the first four or five minutes of that fourth quarter, I was a little winded and he saw it. I think I fouled Anthony Davis two straight possessions. He got me out of there and he got me a break,” said Green after Game 2 against the Pelicans.

I wrote this after the Warriors beat the Spurs by 30 in January:

“I thought Draymond set the tone with his defense. This was the first time he’s ever asked me to come out of a game. It’s never happened since I’ve been here. It was late in the first quarter. He was really tired. That was the effort he was putting forth.”

Just another game, eh?

“I was just trying to keep a body on LaMarcus. Everywhere he moved I tried to keep a body on him. Cause I know, once he gets in rhythm, he’s hard to stop,” said Green. “In that period I switched to Kawhi, tried to hawk him for a few plays, and after that I was dead.”

The Warriors wanted to assert their dominance over San Antonio that night, but it’s not good business to sap Green’s energy completely during the regular season more often than once every 40 games or so. Green will still play the majority of the minutes at center whenever Bogut and Ezeli are out at the same time, but he clearly needs SOME help. Even with the Warriors already in the luxury tax, an investment in Varejao to preserve Green for the playoffs — when getting tired will be the norm — was an easy decision.

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