Returning from a knee injury, Danny Granger will play in an NBA game for the first time in about nine months, according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. Possibly the most interesting thing to watch in this game from the both the Pacers and Pistons standpoint is not only how Granger looks out on the court, but also how he meshes with his teammates and maybe most importantly Paul George.
In prior years Granger acted as the Pacers primary offensive weapon and the results were fairly positive. Last year, for example, with the help of the David West signing and Paul George’s improvement in the first year of Indiana of being relevant since the Jermaine O’neal era, they ranked 8th in offensive efficiency at 103.5 points per 100 possessions. Despite a relatively inefficient year from Granger (41.6% from the field), his ability to space the floor, (which is all the more important in today’s NBA) with his 38.4% three point shooting, opens up room for players like David West and Paul George to operate. David West has done a fantastic job carrying a large bulk of the offense through his offense in the high post during Granger’s absence. Yet probably more important to the Pacers success has been the emergence of Paul George. George hasn’t been efficient as he was while playing with Granger but with his improved handle and passing, his ability to carry a lot of the Pacers perimeter offense has kept the Pacers offense just good enough to help their outstanding defense and translate those two into wins. It’ll be interesting to see how Indianapolis utilizes Granger since there have been reports that he is coming off the bench tonight. If this Granger off the bench idea becomes a normality, he could return to his former offensive role except this time with the 2nd unit. Assuming he finishes games with the starters it’ll be interesting to see if he’s used more as a spot up shooter than anything else.
From a Pistons perspective, this game could be seen as a way to redeem themselves from the absolute thrashing they took yesterday at the hands of the Pistons. Detroit could be able to take advantage of this game if Granger’s comeback seems to mess up the Pacers chemistry in any way. On the other hand, Granger could fit in very well and Indianapolis could feed off the energy of one of their most important players returning. Either way, any game that has a big name player returning has the potential to be a very good and interesting watch.
All stats used in this post are via the NBA.com/stats site.