Whether Now Or Next Week, Granger’s Return All Plus For Pacers


With the trading deadline just a week away, the Indiana Pacers are poised for a major acquisition. They are about to add a former All-Star and proven NBA scorer, a seven-year veteran, in his prime (age 29), who has averaged 21.6 points and shot 39 percent from 3-point range over the past five seasons. Oh, and they won’t be giving up a thing fo him – not a rotation player, not a scrub, not a draft pick, not a potted plant.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

His name is Danny Granger.

Oh, you might be thinking. So there are some asterisks attached after all.

That is the concern, anyway, among the half-empty folks who have questions as Granger returns to action for Indiana after missing everything to this point left knee injury.

There are questions, naturally, about the level of Granger’s fitness as he hurries to play catch-up this season, about the durability of his bum knee and the amount of rust he’ll tote onto the court with him. Some people are bogged down in the micro stuff, as in “Will he play Wednesday night to make good on the Pacers’ desire to use him a little before the All-Star break? Or will they hold off after all, buying him and them another week before the Knicks visit Indianapolis on Feb. 20?”

Others opt for the macro worries, along these lines: Granger exited, when his layoff began in the fall, as Indiana’s leading scorer and primary shot-taker and maker. He has averaged 16.6 field-goal attempts since 2007-08 and he is used to being the Pacers’ “big dog.” Only now, there’s a new dog in the yard.

Paul George is Indiana’s All-Star rep this weekend and has blown up in his third season. The Scottie Pippen comparisons are starting to look more legit than silly at this point. He has 15 double-doubles and the team is 13-6 when he leads it in scoring. Oh, and George just happens to play Granger’s position.

George shifting to small forward in his injured mate’s absence has been a good thing, too, for Lance Stephenson, a strong shooting guard with raw but considerable skills (averaging 13.4 points on 50 percent shooting the past eight games). So the fear is that Granger’s return – at least than 100 percent initially, certainly – will disrupt the overall pecking order, shift George into the backcourt for some unforeseeable change in performance and stick Stephenson back in the cupboard.

That’s your half-empty perspective, anyway.

The half-full outlook is that the Pacers will instantly get deeper, and bench play has been a problem at times. They will add, in Granger, a shooter with range who can help open lanes and unclog the middle – which can only help power forward David West (who doesn’t need much help) and center Roy Hibbert (who most certainly does). They will add a veteran presence in the locker room and on the floor, not just another guy in a suit. And Stephenson has shown enough to help off the bench as a rotation guy, rather than the project he had been.

And let’s be honest, this is Danny Granger, not Carmelo Anthony – he doesn’t bring nearly the ego that would necessarily disrupt a team and, this being Indy vs. Manhattan, there’d be less wailing all around anyway. Granger could even be shifted to the bench.

So whether it happens tonight against Charlotte or next week against New York – really a small detail – Indiana is going to be better off, not worse, both short term and long.


  1. enoryt says:

    Well I am a die hard pacers fan—and when granger does makes his way back it will put the pacers over the top—and create match-up nightmares to EVERYONE IN THE LEAGUE. U slow down granger, have to contend with west, poke west in the eye, that just ticks off g.hill and he makes u look silly, U try to take g.hill of his game, u have Paulgeorge using every inch of his 6’9 frame to make u look foolish, and then when u finally able to switch out on the permimeter, u have hibbert taking baby hooks un contested.
    The pacers have 6 legit starters on their team now(they won’t be able to keep stevenson because people around the legue see that if given the reps he will be a very good player now that he is learning how to lplay SOME defense.
    And when they are locked in–the pacers are the BEST DEFENSIVE TEAM IN THE LEGUE THIS YEAR—The only two teams that I see giving them problems in the playoffs this year is the heat and the celtics—-the can’t figure out how to outthink boston and lets face it—wade and Lebron is just like WOW.

  2. Kamote says:

    It’s all about creating mismatches, and having 3 versatile wing men for 2-3 (or even 4 for Granger) is more of an opportunity rather than a problem. This has been the advantage of MJ’s Bulls on their 2nd 3-peat. Having MJ, Pippen and Harper has created big problems on both ends. With this line-up, either 3 can be the ball-handler, Pippen can guard the PG (Harper on 2 and MJ on 3), or can even play small ball with Dennis as 5, Pippen as 4, MJ and Harper as both 2’s and a PG (Kerr). The Miami Heat right now is doing this with LBJ, Wade, Allen and Battier.

    Skill-wise, of course, the Pacers can’t compare with these Bull’s (or with the Heat). But still, they can punish opponents if they can seamlessly interchange Granger and George on 2 and 3 positions. Adding up Stephenson could create more options. The coach should see the talent of his players and what more can be added on to it (eg. George being a ballhandler/playmaker, Granger on the post or a catch-and-shoot guy and vice versa). This team is still young with a lot of upside since they do have solid player’s on C and PG. Things should just get better with this team, until they have to break them up due to financial reason LOL.

  3. Mark says:

    Paul George is not a Scottie Pippen clone… He does not play anywhere near the level of defence as consistently, and is nowhere near the facillitator and creator that Pippen was. People sprouting that one need to go back and watch some tapes of Scottie for a refresher…

    Maybe PG will develop down that path someday, but let’s relax on that one for a while… Seriously.

    • PacersFanForever says:

      Are you not satisfied? He just grabbed a triple-tonight. This kid has MVP potential.

      • Mark says:

        I’m not saying he’s not a fantastic player… He clearly is! And I do see some similarities, ie. his ruthlessness in transition and fast breaks. But we’re talking about an all-time top 50 player who is one of the greatest defenders of all time, and once led the Bulls in every major statistical category over a season… I’m also not suggesting he can’t be Pippen-like – all I’m saying is that, to be that guy, he’s got a lot to develop, ie. the consistent and relentless defence, the play-making ability… If he does, look out NBA – because he’s starting from an already high base.

  4. america's heartland says:

    Well said, the way the Pacers play with their 2 and 3 positions is basically inter-changeable. Paul George last year was always playing on Hibbert’s post side as well as all year this year. They like having west at the high post for a ball screen with hill to create the pick and pop giving Stephenson this year and Granger last year a whole side to work with. Paul George’s shot attempts on a set offensive possession may go down but that is not where he has excelled this year. He has excelled at being more aggressive using his length on fast breaks and secondary fast breaks, as well as making open shots that he was not making last year.
    George is a very unselfish player look for the Pacers to have better offensive sets with Granger back with his ability to create his own shot and stretch defenses. He will also create less double teams on Hibbert raising his shooting percentage. And he plays good defense having a long body similar to George’s.

    I’m not saying he is the savior to a franchise, but the team is already winning. Put him on a team where all five starters have the ability to have a double-double or score twenty on any given night and you have a team that is oddly similar to the 2004 Detroit Pistons.

    • lol says:

      couldnt have said it better man more people in the comments are smarter ad intelligent that those speaking on tv