By Conrad Brunner | Oct. 21, 2005 Danny Granger isn't one to get carried away.
His level of play just might be the most pleasant development of the Pacers' preseason. The first-round pick from New Mexico has put together consecutive double-doubles, totaling 30 points and 26 rebounds in victories over San Antonio and Minnesota. He's the second-leading rebounder in the NBA in the preseason (9.2) and the second-leading rookie scorer (12.8).
"Danny has a lot of experience for a rookie player," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "He is an older guy, and I love his businesslike demeanor. I know when you're a rookie, even if you're a 24-year-old rookie as I was when I came into the league, things are spinning. I admire the fact that he's able to give the appearance it's not because that's a lot of what it's about. We're asking him to do a lot. He's going to make steady strides but it's going to take some time."
If things are spinning, Granger has done a superb job maintaining his balance. He gives a constant appearance of calm control while on the court. When frustrated by a call or mistake, he simply walks away and gathers himself, rather than becoming demonstrative.
"Regardless of whether I'm having a good game, I always try to keep the same emotional level," Granger said. "That way, you don't show frustration on the court. (Carlisle) is right. As a rookie, my head is spinning out there. Half the time, I don't know where I'm going, so it's a long process. I know I'm going to constantly be learning new things and I'm going to make mistakes. I just can't let my mistakes turn into more mistakes."
A small forward by trade, Granger is being asked to learn the power forward position because injuries have left the Pacers so shorthanded up front. That has doubled the homework but he's giving every appearance of being a quick study. Granger was particularly impressive against the Spurs Tuesday night, racking up 19 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. He followed that up with 11 points and a 11 rebounds against the Timberwolves in Billings, Mont., Thursday night.
"This is tough for him because we're asking him to play a perimeter position and one of our big positions," Carlisle said. "He certainly brings the effort, he brings good intentions, he brings a real positive spirit to our team. He's going to keep getting better.
"John Wooden had a great saying: be quick but don't hurry. Danny has a tendency at times to be in a hurry. The only way you learn about that is to be out there playing, to study film and keep working. He's a guy that's going to work, is going to study the game and is going to get better. Each game is a step for him."
To this point, every step has been forward, though Granger is hardly impressed with his own progress.
"It gives me a little confidence, but you're never as good or as bad as you think you are," he said. "I'm going to have good and bad games but what's important is I keep learning from my mistakes.
"I'm still new to the whole NBA game. I still haven't picked up a lot. I'm still learning constantly. This is just the beginning."
For the Pacers, that's the best news of all.