Last season in the NBA D-League, Jarvis Varnado was one of those players that was excelling and it was a matter of time until the NBA call-up came. The 6'9" forward averaged 14.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game for the Iowa Energy last season. The Bulls took a chance on the swat machine, signing him to a 10-day contract in February, but Varnado only appeared in one contest.
In March, Varnado would sign another 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but this time he wouldn't make a trip back to the D-League. Just 11 days after signing his first 10-day with Philly, the Mississippi State product signed on for the rest of the season. On March 29, Varnado recorded a career-high nine points and six blocks against the Detroit Pistons. Varnado was a fresh face for the fans of Philadelphia that were used to watching Spencer Hawes and LaVoy Allen let people walk to the rim with no contest. Varnado was quite the opposite.
The forward averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 minutes per game in limited action, but showed his worth as a rim protector, averaging 1.3 blocks per game in 14.7 minutes. The season would end, but Varnado left his mark. In his longest tenure with an NBA team -- 23 games -- Varnado finally showed that he has value in the NBA as a rim protector and a fresh body off the bench. He landed in the perfect situation in Philadelphia and many thought he would stick on as a backup big to Nerlens Noel and company.
Unfortunately, the 76ers decided to cut Varnado on October 7, to the surprise of many. Varnado has been hobbled by an achilles injury, which kept him out of a good part of training camp and the Sixers first preseason game. However, the 76ers still have a player by the name of Brandon Davies on the roster, that does things like this. Rim protection isn't easy to come by in this league and it's clear the Varnado can provide that, but no one said every move the 76ers make is the right move.
Varnado is now a free-agent, looking for somewhere else to land before the season starts in a few weeks. Is going back to the D-League an option for Varnado, who dominated that environment in 2013-14? That will be revealed, but the big man clearly demonstrated that he has value in the NBA, enough for a team in need of a backup big to take a flyer on him. It would be a shame to see Varnado go back to the D-League when he proved that he can play in the Association, but someone will take a chance on him eventually. I heard Cleveland needs some rim protection...