Worst Starter No. 7 – Anderson Varejao
A well-known face in Cleveland, Anderson Varejao would lead this list in total starts for the franchise. He played with the Cavaliers from 2004-05, his first season in the league, until he was traded at the 2016 NBA Trade Deadline; he even return for five games to end his career and retire a Cavalier in 2020-21.
Varajao thus played 1.5 seasons during the scope of our piece today, starting 26 games for the Cavs during that time. His cumulative plus-minus in those 26 starts? Five. As in, on average the Cavs outscored their opponents by 0.2 points while he was on the court. Playing for a contending team, that level of “average” was both impressively consistent and overall a negative; by contrast, the Cavaliers won 53 games that season and had a point differential of +4.4.
The Brazilian big man had some offensive pop, scoring efficiently around the rim and even showing off a bit of range on his short jumper, but outside of his rebounding his defensive impact was muted. When he went down with a torn Achilles 26 games into that first season, it was an opportunity for the Cavs to make an upgrade at the position.
That injury accelerated his decline and he played in just 72 games total the rest of his career, making only one start. He was a major figure for the Cavs for a very long time, but by the time LeBron James was back he didn’t have enough in the tank to be the starter they needed at the 5.