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Q. What exactly will Danny Granger's role be on the Pacers? It seems as if he could play either forward position, but is favored towards the small forward spot. But the Pacers seem deep from that position with (Ron) Artest, (James) Jones and (Stephen) Jackson. And if (Jonathan) Bender is able to get healthy he may be able to contribute. So would it not be more prudent for Granger to be backup power forward? The Pacers have depth there, but it is questionable. Austin Croshere seemed to struggle much of the season and Bender is injured. Granted, (Jeff) Foster and Dale Davis could move over and cover, but they are needed at center. Or are the Pacers maybe looking to make a trade to fill a hole at power forward, while making room for Granger? Bird did say his draft pick would make an impact. (From Gary in Monrovia, IN)
A. Considering the Pacers had no expectation Granger would be available to them with the No. 17 pick, it's not as if there is some long-term plan already in place. At the moment, they're celebrating the acquisition of a player they had ranked as No. 5 overall on their draft board. They're almost as happy about the selection of Erazem Lorbek in the second round. Even though he will remain in Italy at least one more season, Lorbek is a highly regarded young prospect in Europe and could turn out to be a steal.
Granger fills the team's greatest need, and that is for quality depth at small forward. Behind Artest, the only backup at the moment is James Jones, who is a restricted free agent the team intends to re-sign. Jackson will be starting and playing almost all of his minutes at shooting guard. Bender, if healthy, will be primarily a power forward. That leaves Granger the opportunity to step right into the rotation as a rookie.
Granger appears to be a player similar in profile to Jones – 6-8, 225, played inside and outside in college, largely flew under the radar – but with a much higher overall skill level. He has drawn comparisons to Scottie Pippen and Tayshaun Prince because of his length, versatility and basketball I.Q. This is a guy who led his team in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shots, shot .524 from the field and .433 from the arc. In other words, this is a guy who does everything, and does it in volume.
How his selection affects the team's plans for the summer remains to be seen but be sure his presence will have an impact – and only for the positive.