Danny Granger, team captain of the surging Indiana Pacers, made a fairly uneventful return to the court last Saturday. The Pacers won the game, but Granger looked pretty rusty in his first action of the regular season this year. A rough start not withstanding, Granger needs to be patient with himself during his return to form, just as the Pacers need to be patient with their team captain.
Granger’s 1-10 shooting display on Saturday looked a lot more negative on paper than his movement and defense looked during the game. A hard time and the possibility of limited minutes should be an expected start for a player who hasn’t seen any real game time since last season. Prior to his return on Satuday, Granger had not seen the court at all, since one game in the preseason four months ago. Granger played a bit less than 20 minutes in his first game back from injury, and should be expected to do so for a while, until he literally gets his legs back under him.
There’s no reason at all to rush Granger back, especially since the Pacers are consistenly moving up in the league. The addition of their captain (in any capacity) will be nothing but a bonus for this team.
Head coach Frank Vogel spoke about Granger’s return after the game. “Rusty, but it is to be expected,” Vogel said postgame. “Certainly, he’s played a lot better in the practices the last few weeks, but that is what we expected the first game back with the first taste of it. That is why we’re not throwing him back in for 40 minutes a game. It is going to take time.”
Granger himself spoke to the media during practice on Monday, and seems prepared for a reduced role, as he adjusts to his return. “I don’t need to be the player I was before,” Granger said. “We have such a talented squad. We’re a really, really deep team.”