After missing 10 games, the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided that Anderson Varejao needs surgery to repair a "a small longitudinal split in the vastus medialis." In a post I wrote back in early December, the Cavaliers missed out on their chance to "dump" Varejao and his injury prone style of play while he was the hottest thing in basketball. Clearly the Cavaliers are headed towards another top 5 lottery pick, but the only plus side to this is that rookie Tyler Zeller (5% owned Yahoo), who the Cavaliers traded 3 picks to acquire from the Mavericks, will be the starter until Andy returns. I was a huge fan of the Cavaliers acquiring Zeller and loved watching him play for the North Carolina Tar Heels. I always thought his game would transition nicely to the NBA, and so far he has done as good a job any rookie big man can do. With the pressure off of his back to produce to earn minutes, Zeller should be a good fantasy option through the All-Star break. In 10 games as a starter, Tyler Zeller is averaging 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 34 minutes. He shoots just 40% from the field as a starter and just 43% on the season but his skill set and college numbers prove he is a much more efficient scorer than that as he shot over 50% in his last 3 seasons at UNC.
The Cavaliers also have this guy named Tristan Thompson (45%) that has been improving his game all season long. In 4 January contests, Thompson is averaging 14 points and 12.5 rebounds per game while attempting 11 shots per night. With nearly 5 offensive rebounds day in and day out, Thompson gets some easy buckets while drawing contact much more frequently.
As mentioned in our Kevin Love injury post, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a battle for minutes with Dante Cunningham (10%) and Derrick Williams (15%) going one on one for Love's minutes. Last night Derrick Williams won round 1 with a nice night shooting the ball, but has yet to be an efficient rebounder in the NBA. Since I wrote the K. Love post, Cunningham jumped 8% while Williams jumped just 5% but at the rate they are playing, Williams is going to be the better option so go with him if you still can.
The last two guys your should set your focus on is Jason Thompson (57%) of the Sacramento Kings and Andre Drummond (31%) of the Detroit Pistons. Thompson has upped his scoring totals in 2013 to 15 points per game and while his rebound numbers are below 7, remember he plays next to DeMarcus Cousins who is just dominating the NBA since he was reinstated. Drummond has continued his steady play from 2012 into 2013 with 7.7 points and 8.7 boards a night since December started on better than 60% shooting. His greatest strength, his shot blocking ability, has really come to focus in January with nearly 3 blocks per game in just 22 minutes per contest.
How do you plan on replacing Anderson Varejao?