With the new acquisition of Danny Granger, I’ve looked at the numbers to try and predict how well he played and what’s to come in the remaining months of the season. But it didn’t feel like enough as numbers exclude context and never tell the full story.
So I decided to speak with Shane Young of Hoops Habit and ESPN’s 8 Points, 9 Seconds, an Indiana Pacers blog, for some perspective on how well Danny Granger played with the Indiana Pacers and what Shane will expect from Granger as he spends the rest of his season with the Los Angeles Clippers.
TM: How would you describe Danny Grangers’s play this season as he’s coming off several knee surgeries?
SY: Granger’s play this season has been based on unselfishness and he’s really used the 29 games to figure how just how he wants to play. The left knee surgery that kept him out all of last season has proved to be effective, however, as he has been pain free (including soreness) since returning. The calf injury in the preseason kept him out a bit, but his defensive has allowed him to make just as much of an impact as anyone in the second unit. He led the Pacers in defensive rating (90.1) when a part of team, which means we still seen the same Granger defensively that got into the head of the Miami Heat two years ago, it was just in smaller spurts.
At age 30, it’s a safe bet that Granger isn’t going to get much better as a player. But could you see him getting close to the player he was pre-injury?
In terms of the offensive side of the ball, Granger isn’t going to get remotely close to the 18.7 points per night that Pacers’ fans were lucky to have. His explosion and quickness to the basket is just not as apparent, and really hasn’t been since Paul George took over the reigns. When you consider he signed with a team that loves to push the tempo and create transition opportunities …. Doc Rivers can do wonders for Granger. I fully expect two more solid seasons averaging 8 points or below. Nothing more with Los Angeles loaded with talent.
A lot of Pacers writers/bloggers have described Granger’s defense as “snail-like” on the perimeter, something the Clippers definitely doesn’t need. Is that due to rust or overall regression as a player?
His “snail-like” defense on the perimeter is due to a couple things, actually. First, his overall load of responsibility has lessened with this Pacers’ group, and he rarely gets matched up with the best offensive player on the floor. Back in his days of being the focal point, he certainly had more motivation and need to shut down his assignments. But don’t get it twisted; he’s never going to be a pushover, especially with this Clippers’ unit that has picked up their level of aggression due to Blake Griffin becoming a man in the paint. I’m not a believer in defense being a result of “rust” or “regression,” since 90 percent of it (to me) is strictly effort. With more pressure to win in the playoffs out West than there was out East, it’s a no-brainer that he’ll come to LA more than ready on that end.
Looking at the numbers, Granger hasn’t shot well at all. Prior to the injuries he was career 38 percent shooter from behind the line. Considering the Clippers rely heavily on the three-point shot, could you see those numbers increasing as Granger gets his body back into game shape?
The shooting percentages are certainly going to improve, simply because of one reason: The Clippers run a smoother offense than the 19th ranked Pacers, and thrive off moving the ball along the perimeter to find open buckets. While Los Angeles has felt more confident feeding Griffin on the block and letting him operate, they are at their absolute BEST when Chris Paul is creating shots for everyone — Yes, Matt Barnes included. Granger shoots 35.6 percent this season in “catch-and-shoot” scenarios, but you have to imagine having a point guard duo of Paul/Collison will give him better looks than the stagnant Pacers’ offense has.
At this point in his career, do you see Granger better off as a traditional small forward or a small-ball power forward?
I’ve never fully bought in to the small-ball power forward until this season. He has shown the ability to limit opposing power forwards and cause problems for teams that like to play big, but I still feel as if his best contributions can come from playing the perimeter, and occasionally attacking the middle. At 6’8″ and under 250 pounds, Granger will probably play minutes at both positions for Los Angeles, but that will depend on how well/horrible Glen Davis decides to be with his new gig as well.
Be sure to follow Shane at @YoungNBA on Twitter for more analysis on the Pacers.