I've been hearing about Jarvis Varnado from several of you Fixers for over a year now and the Mississippi State forward gets his chance to work out for the Knicks at the MSG Training Center on Friday.Varnado comes in along with Iowa State's Craig Brackins and four guards: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Willie Warren (Oklahoma), Dominique Jones (South Florida) and Stephen Dennis (Kutztown).
Varnado was listed at 6-9 in college but his pre-draft measurements had him at 6-10 in sneakers, which may only be an inch but every one matters at the NBA level. His 7-3 1/2-inch wingspan is what makes you take notice, because length is so critical at this level. Now for the obvious - shot-blocking. Varnado owns the NCAA career record for blocks. He averaged 4.7 per game and everyone knows this skill will be what gets him into the NBA, because his offense is still very limited, though he continues to work on his shot.
He doesn't have much of a post game (and an unsightly shooting form), but in Mike D'Antoni's system, he wouldn't need to do too much one-on-one. Varnado only needs to prove himself able to finish off a pick-and-roll or be a slasher and an offensive rebound machine, which he has the athleticism and length to accomplish. And he'll need to use quickness, timing and explosion, because at 210 pounds (that's lighter than me, Fixers), Varnado won't be pushing anyone around in the paint.
But for what you need him for -- off the bench, defensive presence who can change the complexity of a game -- Varnado fits right where the Knicks are picking at No. 38 and 39.
There are some of you who are also excited about Vasquez, the ACC Player of the Year who is a tall (6-6) and crafty combo guard that may lack athleticism and strength to play at the NBA level - especially on defense - but has many fans intrigued by the competitive fire he showed in leading Maryland to a share of the ACC regular season title with Duke.
Though Vasquez' ability to defend NBA-caliber guards has been questioned, his offensive game should translate. He showed at Maryland that he is very comfortable running pick-and-roll plays.
Vasquez was among 40 players who participated in a workout in Minnesota earlier this week.