Jarvis Varnado, a defensive specialist out of Mississippi State, is somewhat of an NBA mystery. On paper, Varnado has tangibles the Miami Heat are consistently clamoring for. He led the NCAA in blocks during the 2007-08 season, and set the single season record in blocks with 170 during the 2008-09 season. Having also won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award three years in a row, many are perplexed as to why he hasn’t received much playing time in the NBA since being drafted in 2010.
For starters, Varnado is limited in other areas that make him a slight liability on the floor. During a recent Summer League session, Brett Koremenos of Grantland.com wrote about the singular skill set of Varnado while he was on the court.
“One of the most entertaining parts about this week has been watching Varnado do everything in his power to block as many shots as possible in a given game. The dude cares not for fouls, the health of teammates, or goaltends as he lurches across the paint at any sign of penetration in a desperate attempt to swat some poor sap’s shot into next week. ” (Grantland, Koremenos)
Here is the kicker: the Heat don’t really mind Varnado’s deficiencies. The Heat pride themselves on being a defensive juggernaut and having another elite shot blocker in Varnado fits right into their identity. If the Heat want to stay competitive for the foreseeable future, having a few young players as back-ups wont exactly hurt their chances. Regardless of Varnado’s skill set, he most likely won’t see much playing time being on the Heat roster, which is a shame. With an older roster like the Heat, though, a single injury to one of the starters could allow Varnado to get some playing time and show the NBA world why he is an elite defensive player.