View Full Version : Artest saw Granger's potential

01-24-2009, 02:54 PM
Artest saw Granger's potential
By Jeff Rabjohns

Posted: January 24,

A Danny Granger's ascent from promising rookie to elite scorer in his fourth season has been one of the top stories in the NBA this season.

The Indiana Pacers forward entered Friday's game against Houston fourth in the league in scoring behind three established stars -- Dwyane Wade of Miami, LeBron James of Cleveland and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers.

Former Pacer Ron Artest, annually one of the NBA's top defenders, said he isn't surprised but is impressed with the development of Granger, whose rookie season coincided with Artest's last in Indiana.

"I always knew he had talent," said Artest, who played for the Pacers from midway through the 2001-02 season through the first part of the 2005-06 season. "I would always tell people that this kid can play, this kid is tough.

"I think he took advantage of his God-given ability. He didn't take his gift for granted. He's making the most out of it."

Granger went for a team-high 25 points Friday night as the Pacers beat the Rockets 107-102 in Conseco Fieldhouse.

Artest sat out with an ankle injury.

The mustache gang?
Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy and Travis Diener have decided to make an addition to their look. They all played Friday sporting mustaches, at least ones in the infancy stages.

"We've got four starters with mustaches," Foster said during a light moment in the locker room after the game. "Jarrett Jack is the original founding member."

"That ain't even a mustache," Granger interrupted.

"What's that on his lip?" Foster countered. "A mustache. We're just missing one holdout."

That, of course, would be Granger.

"I just don't grow hair," Granger protested. "I'll grow hair a little bit on my chin and some other places, but I've always had a baby face. I only got to shave once every week and a half."

Murphy said Dunleavy came up with the idea of taking the look team-wide.

"It started with Mike," Murphy said. "Jeff was against, then he came for San Antonio and we saw he stepped up to the forefront and we said everyone had to do it. So everybody's got their mustache ready to roll."

Back home again
Former Purdue standout Carl Landry continued his strong play against the Pacers.

The Rockets small forward scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench Friday. Landry was the Rockets' second-best scorer in two games against the Pacers last season, averaging 17.5 points, behind only the 22 of Tracy McGrady.

01-24-2009, 05:21 PM
An article on Pacers.com Granger's rookie year.

Conrad Brunner

It has not taken Danny Granger long to make a positive impression.

Already, Ron Artest has declared him a future All-Star. Coach Rick Carlisle is figuring out ways to use him at two positions. Talented enough to be the fifth pick in the draft but mysteriously available to the Pacers at No. 17, the 6-8 forward from New Mexico has captured not only the Pacers' attention, but their imagination.

"He's going to be an All-Star one day," Artest said. "He could definitely start. If there's one guy I would sit for, it would be him. He's just like (Scottie)_Pippen. I would expect him to have a great year. He's young and he's got a lot to learn but he's far ahead of where I was at his age."

The unusual thing is not that Granger has performed well, it's the nature of his efforts. He isn't throwing down spectacular dunks or soaring into the rafters for monster rebounds. What he is doing is making what coaches like to call "basketball plays," meaning the right pass at the right time, the right shot for the situation, the proper cut all of the little things that become routine for a veteran but are often the last mastered by rookies.

"Granger's an impressive guy because he's very mature, he's very skilled and he has sort of a veteran disposition about him," said Carlisle. "When he walks out on the court he looks like a guy who's been here and done this before and not many rookies do. We're asking him to do a lot. We're asking him to learn two positions (small forward and power forward), which is not easy for him, but he has the basketball IQ to do it and do it well. He's an important player for us this year."

Though Granger sat out the preseason opener Tuesday night in New Jersey with a sprained ankle, the injury was believed to be mild. Even so, he could be sidelined Thursday night when the Pacers have their preseason home opener against Utah (7:00, WIBC 1070-AM). Jermaine O'Neal (bruised thigh) may play, but both David Harrison (side) and Jeff Foster (hip) are doubtful.

Fans got their first taste of his talent in the FanJam intrasquad scrimmage Sunday afternoon when he scored 10 points to lead the reserves to a 33-all tie with the starters. That was the first hint Granger might be the rare impact rookie.

"I think I've done OK," Granger said. "You always can do better. I'm still adjusting to the NBA pace, the NBA style of play, how fast it is and different things like that.

"If need be, I definitely think I can play right away. I definitely think I'm ready."

Though the Pacers have a deep frontcourt rotation, it appears room will be made to accommodate Granger, who is smooth both with the ball and without. Offensively, he plays with unusual savvy. Defensively, he displays a bit of a mean streak. Perhaps that's what caught Artest's attention.

"If I am an All-Star, then it will probably be because of Ron because I have to guard him every day in practice," Granger said. "That's a great compliment because Ron's an All-Star and he knows what it takes to get there. If he sees that in me, that's great."

The more Granger plays, the more likely it will become that Artest won't be alone in his opinion.