After last year when All-Star Danny Granger missed all but five games with an injury, the Indiana Pacers were ruled out of advancing far in the playoffs. Obviously, they made it farther then anyone predicted by pushing the Miami Heat yet again to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year Granger returns and hopes to be in All-Star form, but does he really need to do that?
Granger was the primary player for the Pacers for many years, hoping to keep the fans’ minds off of the palace brawl in Detroit in ’04. Granger was added the following year out of New Mexico to begin the rebuilding process for the Pacers. He started off slow in 2005-06 averaging just 7.5 points per game but quickly jumping to All-Star form in 2007-08 averaging 19.6 points per game. The majority of those years, he was the primary guy for the Pacers when they needed a basket. Now the team is full of players who are able to do just that. So where does Granger fit in now that he returns?
The Pacers are a team where there is no true superstar to lead them but a bunch of very good players to do the job. Last year when Granger got injured the Pacers’ season was thought to be doomed. Luckily, Paul George emerged as a star and could be the direction for years to come for the Pacers. Granger just needs to contribute to the team and does not need to have his All-Star mentality when taking the floor this year.
Granger does not quite have the lift that he used to before his knee surgery, but he is still hoping to return to form. Unfortunately, the preseason has not helped him much with his last game shooting just 20 percent from the floor. The preseason may not be helping Granger, but the playing time is helping him get back into shape. You can look for his minutes to increase as the preseason goes on.
So far, Granger’s career seems to be on a roller coaster ending near the bottom after averaging just 5.4 points per game in his five games last year. Look for the coaster to start climbing again but not really reaching the top this year like he has before. All Granger needs to do this year is stay healthy. Look for him to be in double digits this year at around ten to eleven points per game, but not really an All-Star level, just what the Pacers need.