Tim Donahue: Pacers Think Danny Granger’s Return Will Be Seamless
While the whole world speculates whether Danny Granger’s return will slow down the
juggernaut that is the Indiana Pacers, at least one person has no concerns. The team’s
leader doesn’t think there is any chance that the return of the team’s captain will disrupt
anything — either chemistry-wise or on the court.
“Danny’s going to help us,” said David West. “He’s been with the team dealing with his
injury. He’s been around us. It’s not like we’ve forgotten how he plays. He been around.
He’s been in the locker room. He’s been on the road with us.”
Some fans and media members thought the Pacers should have added a player —
perhaps a shooter like J.J. Redick — at the trade deadline. But the team believes that
its biggest “acquisition” will be simply getting Granger back on the floor.
“What Danny Granger brings to the table is everything we could possibly hope to acquire
at the trade deadline,” said coach Frank Vogel. “Hopefully, he gets back pretty quickly
and returns to his form. If he does, it’s really going to give us a big boost.”
West agrees. “There’s just nothing we can add that’s going to be better than getting
Danny Granger back,” said West. “Six-nine, 235-pound, 20-point-a-game scorer. A
matchup problem for these teams that just aren’t going to be able to deal with our size.
Our tempo. Our ability to guard one through five. There’s nothing that we can add that’s
going to be better than what Danny’s going to bring.”
West went on to explain the other factors that Granger will bring to the team. ”He’s
going to add to what we’re doing on both ends,” said West. “His size. His basketball IQ.
His ability. He’s going to open the floor up, because you can’t help [off of him]. He’s
just going to make everybody better. He’s going to make our team better.”
“I Hope It Doesn’t Change Much”
Then again, change always comes with some uncertainty. Granger returns to a team
with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. In Detroit tonight, he’ll get his
first minutes as the Pacers are coming off back-to-back 30-point victories. Somebody,
somewhere, is saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Many of the gains made by this team were made possible by Danny’s absence.
That is not to say that Granger held this team down. Far from it. Rather, Indiana’s
success has been spurred on by forcing the organization and its players to respond to
loss of Danny over the course of the last four months.
And there has been no more shining gain than the emergence of Paul George, who
recently notched his first career triple double and made his first All-Star appearance.
Many are worried about how Granger’s return will affect him. Even Paul himself
sounded a little worried, when Pacers.com’s Mark Montieth asked him.
How much will George’s role change? “I hope not much,” he said. “I really hope not
much. That’s the most I can say, I hope it doesn’t change much.”
But, worry isn’t always generated internally. These players — especially Paul — have
been asked ad nauseam if they thought Danny’s return might cause problems. The
constant questioning on the subject — which I have both observed and been a willing
participant in — led me to have this exchange with David West.
Me: Is it to fair to say that when we — collectively in the media — ask the question,
“Are you worried about Danny?” that we are inserting the worry?
West (laughing & nodding): ”I think so.”
Beyond that, there are fears about what injecting Granger’s presence into a group
that has seemingly finally gotten comfortable with each other and with a new persona.
“I think we’ve kind of found an identity that we can play at,” Paul George said Friday
night. “We can wrap our hands around the style of play we’ve been playing at lately.
Getting up and down the court, pushing the tempo and trying to find things early.”
The defense has always been there for this team — they are still on pace to be
statistically the best defensive squad in the franchise’s NBA history — but the offense
has been, well, ugly. However, it has been turning around (rising 4.8 points per 100
possessions since December 31), and tempo has been a factor.
Danny’s return will have at least some affect on that, as much of the tempo comes not
from the point guards in Vogel’s offense, but from the wings — specifically, the
shooting guards. Lance Stephenson has been described by Coach Vogel as “our best
push guy,” and all Pacer observers can close their eyes and immediately see
Stephenson getting the ball and changing ends as quickly as he possibly can.
However, it’s not just...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s