Danny Granger made his first appearance this season on Saturday night, as the Indiana Pacers had their way with the Detroit Pistons for the second time in as many nights. Granger understandably struggled in his return from a left-knee injury suffered during the preseason. The 6-foot-8 forward only scored one basket out of ten attempts in 19 minutes of action.
“Rusty, it was expected,” head coach Frank Vogel told the Indianapolis Star’s Mike Wells. “Certainly he’s (Granger) played a lot better in the practices the last two weeks. First game back, first taste of it. That’s why we’re not saying we’re going to throw him back in there for 30 minutes. It’s going to take time.”
To keep from adding anymore pressure to Granger, Vogel stayed with the same starting lineup he’s used all season on Saturday night, choosing rather to bring Granger off the bench. A decision that might be seriously considered moving forward.
Indiana’s starting lineup, which features George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert, has logged the most minutes (877) out of every other five-man group used this season in the NBA and has been far and away the Pacers’ most productive group. Per NBA.com, those five starters have outscored opponents by 14.1 points per 100 possessions, a mark that tops the league by a wide margin among lineups with at least 500 minutes played.
You would almost have to assume Vogel will continue to bring Granger off the bench over the next couple of weeks, but what happens when and if number 33 regains his form? Does Vogel break up one of the elite lineups in the league or does he choose to add a career-18.2 point per game scorer to a relatively weak bench?
It’s a decision that should definitely be contemplated for one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.
Brandon Curry is an NBA columnist for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry