Danny Granger Fills His Role After Being Thrust Into the Starting Spot
First of all Danny Granger isn’t the reason the Pacers lost in Fortress Philips. We’ll get to why they lost soon, but anyone looking for a “FIRE DANNY GRANGER” piece should just stop reading now. Granger’s first start in just under two years came as Lance Stephenson was scratched due to a knee injury from colliding with the Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas on Monday. Granger did fine in 32 minutes of play, scoring 14 points by shooting 4-for-10 from the field , 1-for-5 from 3-point land with 3 assists (and 3 turnovers), a block and a steal. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line with a good defense effort, but he didn’t do anything impressive.
Yup, that’s my analysis. His play was rather average.
He played with a starting group that had its worst start of the season, but that isn’t on him when you break it down. The starting unit as a whole was just a mess and in particular Roy Hibbert was awful. In the first half the Pacers’ plus-minus with Hibbert on the floor was -17. In the second half they were +13 with him off the floor. Pero Antic was abusing Hibbert by stretching the floor (not to mention the rest of the front court). It shouldn’t be too surprising Hibbert’s +/- was -21 on the night.
The Pacers biggest problem came from spotting 12 points to the Hawks before Indiana did anything to show signs of life. But even through that 12-0 Hawks run, Granger’s played his role well. Indiana positioned him on offense for kick-outs to not crowd the lane and his only “mistake” offensively or defensively early on was a missed corner three. He helped in the right places on defense and didn’t put his teammate in bad positions by playing out of position.
After a breather in the first Pacers coach Frank Vogel had Granger back in the line up and Danny’s job on defense was keeping an eye on Kyle Korver. On the majority of possessions Korver was Granger’s sole responsibility and he limited the shooter to only two points in the first half. Granger did his job denying the pass to Korver and running him off the three line, so it is hard to find fault in the effort other than the contested 3-pointer he gave up to DeMarre Carroll. The only complaint I could even think to come up with is he may have needed to be more active on offense without the ball or try harder to create his shot off the dribble.
To start the third quarter Korver was covered by Paul George, and Korver quickly put up eight points while Granger watched sadly (I assume) as George either lacked effort or was screened to death as Korver unloaded. Danny played little in the fourth quarter (Hibbert played none), but the Pacers never drew closer than eight.
If the Pacers don’t have such a poor start, they might have got their first win in Atlanta since 2006. Granger could have been more assertive and active offensively, but he wasn’t dead weight by any means, finishing second on the team in scoring behind George.
If any one player is to blame it would be Hibbert, but it was just a messy game for the Pacers in which a slow start doomed a comeback despite Indiana outscoring Atlanta during the final three quarters. Granger was average on offense but played above average defense on the night in my opinion, as he wasn’t blowing assignments and forcing teammates to help him.
One game isn’t a lot to go off of, but if anything my opinion on Granger is was the same as it was before the game. He’s still working himself into a role as a sixth man, but on Wednesday he had to shift back into the roll of a starter. His play was fine and a bad night for the whole Pacers squad isn’t the time to panic.