View Full Version : Pacers.Com }Granger Stepping Into Spotlight

Frank Slade
12-13-2005, 02:39 PM
Granger Stepping Into Spotlight

By Conrad Brunner | Dec. 13, 2005
Not that the Pacers needed any additional motivation to nab Danny Granger with the 17th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, but the possibility of a scenario like the one they now face was considered.
With Ron Artest on the trading block at his own behest and effectively off the team until a deal can be made, Granger's presence looms large. The Pacers don't expect the rookie to fill Artest's shoes, but he recently has demonstrated the readiness to handle an increasing share of the responsibility at small forward.

"We knew Danny Granger was a good player when we drafted him," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "He did some good things in the exhibition season, had some struggles, and he's kind of fought his way back into the rotation. Now he's a guy that's going to kind of step to the forefront."

Granger has played his best in the last three games, averaging 7.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.67 blocked shots in 23.8 minutes. The numbers represent a marked improvement. In his first 13 appearances, he averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds and shot 28.6 percent from the field.

"We have players that can move into that position," said franchise CEO and President Donnie Walsh. "Obviously, we drafted in that position. It is my own feeling that Danny Granger can become the kind of player that Ronnie was. It won't be immediate. It will take him time. He is a rookie. He has to get his feet wet. He has to earn the respect (around) the league. When he does that and when he's comfortable and gets in the flow, I think he’s going to be a fine player."

Exactly how Carlisle will manage the position for the time being remains to be seen. Artest, who missed the last two games with a sore right wrist, will be on the inactive list at least through this week. Stephen Jackson, who played primarily small forward last season in Artest's absence, can do so again. He averaged 23.0 points on 58.8 percent shooting in the last two games, demonstrating his comfort level.

Granger offers several additional dimensions because of his athleticism and energy. An aggressive, productive rebounder, he also is very active around the basket, defensively, always poised to block a shot. He still is learning nuances but possesses both the desire and the skills to be a strong defender.

"He's very talented," said Jermaine O'Neal. "Everybody knows what he can do. He's a confused rookie to a point right now but every rookie rookie is confused at a certain part of their rookie year. He has so much ability to play multiple positions, he's so talented and skillful on the offensive end, and he has the ability to defend bigger guys as well as smaller guys. He can be a very instrumental piece to our team and getting him going and getting him confidence is going to help us in the long run."

His recent play also has restored Granger's confidence, which was wavering in November.

"It's a lot higher now," he said. "I finally have that confidence I had when I played in college. I never really lost my confidence but when you're not playing like you're used to playing you tend to doubt yourself at times. But I think I've got that back.

"It helps a lot knowing the guys are looking our for me, trying to help me as much as possible. I know I'm going to make a lot of mistakes. They just try to keep my head on straight so I can help the team. We have scorers on the team. My role won't be to score 20 points a game. If I can get a rebound, block a shot, get a steal, whatever I can do to help the team, I'll do."

As Granger's confidence increases, so does the team's confidence in him.

"Every time he steps on the floor he's going to do better because he'll have a little more experience under his belt," Carlisle said. "He's really the only guy that we've asked to learn a perimeter position and a post position. And that's hard. There's a lot more things you've got to remember and, being a rookie player, a lot of times it's got to feel like it's spinning out of control. But he's a competitive guy (and) he's got a real active, athletic body that helps us. And he really competes hard all the time so this is a great opportunity for him.

"The team right now knows that we need him to do well to have a chance to have some success. Guys are encouraging him. A lot of the veteran guys will help him out on certain things that happen during games and give him advice. It's great to see a young guy working hard enough that he gets the veteran guys behind him. It doesn't happen like that all the time."

O'Neal explained it succinctly.

"If we help each other," he said, "all of us can have success."


12-13-2005, 02:43 PM

12-13-2005, 05:13 PM
Eh, Rick has always talked a good game, but he hasn't always backed it up. Danny should get an absolute minimum of 20 minutes per from here on out.

12-13-2005, 05:27 PM
I hope Danny starts. Jack gets to keep his size advantage at SG, and continue to be the 2nd option for now. Danny meanwhile just does the small stuff, hustling his *** off.

12-13-2005, 05:44 PM
JO is really really really really starting to win me over. I know it's a reoccuring theme around here, but it seems like he has grown leaps and bounds in the past month.

"If we help each other, all of us can have success."

That's a quote from someone who's getting it. Combine that with his dedication to playing hard on both ends, and even diving after loose balls, gives a player that is capable of actually leading a team.