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Forward spends more time guarding opponent's top perimeter scorer
Nov 20, 2010 |
Scoring has never been a problem for Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger. He has shown over the years he is capable of producing 30-point outbursts against any opponent.
His defense, however, has been a different story.
Granger, who once took pride in trying to shut down the opponent's best perimeter player, had developed a reputation for being one-dimensional.
But two events in recent months helped change his approach. While playing for Team USA at the World Championships, Granger found himself on the bench due to his defensive play. He also had a conversation with Pacers coach Jim O'Brien about the importance of high-level defense.
"We told Dan that one of his goals should be to be on the first- or second-team All-Defense, and he's capable of doing that," O'Brien said. "He's tough-minded, he's got good hands, he's got good feet, he's got good length."
Granger chased Atlanta's Joe Johnson through countless screens to play a part in holding him to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting earlier this week. Granger scored 22 points while shooting 50 percent (7-of-14) from the field in that game.
On Thursday, O'Brien switched Granger onto former North Central High School and Indiana University star Eric Gordon earlier than he planned after the Los Angeles Clippers guard scored 11 points in the first quarter against other defenders. Gordon made just 2-of-11 shots from the field in the final three quarters.
Granger will defend Vince Carter or Rashard Lewis, both former All-Stars, tonight against the Orlando Magic at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"Danny's really strapping it up and getting after it," center Roy Hibbert said. "He's playing great defense on the other team's top player. He's doing it without fouling, too."
Granger starts the game on the opposing team's best perimeter player because he's a better defender than Mike Dunleavy. Granger usually gets a break when he's in the game at the same time as Brandon Rush.
"I think Danny is playing great basketball," O'Brien said. "He's really playing at a high level on both ends of the court. He's defending at a very high level. When you have a guy like Danny playing at a high level at both ends of the court, that's a big, big factor for us."
Granger's play on the perimeter and Hibbert's ability to protect the paint have helped the Pacers hold opponents to 43.9 percent shooting this season, their lowest percentage under O'Brien.
Granger's lack of defensive focus was evident during the summer. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and Memphis' Rudy Gay got most of the minutes on the wing during Team USA's run to a gold medal in the World Championships. Granger averaged just 9.7 minutes a game.
"What happened with Team USA played a part, but coach O'Brien told me that I have to set the tone with my defense," Granger said. "When my defense is above par, we all play that way. When it's not, we don't play well. I have to set the tone."
Granger's offense hasn't suffered from his desire to become an all-around player. He's averaging 22.1 points while shooting a career best from the field (47.6 percent) and on 3-pointers (43.3 percent).
"I think the way you separate yourself in this league is if you can score the ball and slow somebody down on the other the end," Granger said. "Defensively, in this league, offensive players are so good that you're not always going to shut a player down. But if you can hold a 25-point scorer to 13 or 14 points, you give your team a better chance of winning."
Hopefully Granger continues to step up his D to make himself a complete player with another All-Star appearance.
By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else find it annoying when JOB refers to players using their full or abbreviated name different from what they go by? For example, he always refers to Dunleavy as "Michael Dunleavy" and referred to Granger as "Dan". Maybe tonight he'll play Jim Posey, Terrance Ford, Jeffery Foster, Joshua McRoberts, Dan Granger, Michael Dunleavy, Anthony Price, or Andrew Hansbrough?
Last edited by Smoothdave1; 11-20-2010 at 01:35 PM.
It's amazing how every year, besides last year that was plagued with injuries, he has come back better and better each year. He's shooting ridiculous percentages for a pure shooter and his defense almost all year has been pretty damn good.
After losing my love for Danny last year, I am falling in love with his play all over again.
Someone has to teach Danny how to defend without fouling.
This will actually probably become a problem. Now Danny is motivated to play defense which means he's going to play tough. Officiating is soft as Troy Murphy nowadays which means he'll get called for a lot of ticky-tack fouls out front.