Indiana Pacers: Grading Danny Granger's First Three Games Back from Injury
Danny Granger recently returned to the lineup after nearly four months of not playing in a single NBA game. In the three games he has played so far, he hasn't seen more than 19 minutes of action in each game, coming off the bench in all of them.
So far, his performances have been up and down in the limited minutes he received. Let's examine each aspect of Granger's game and take a look at where he's been struggling or excelling.
It's not fair to take a look at Granger's points average of 6.3 and determine that he's been terrible.
However, his per-36 minute averages come out to 12.2 PPG and 3.9 RPG (per Basketball Reference). That isn't really that much better, considering he's been the Indiana Pacers' best scoring option for the previous five seasons.
Obviously, he's coming off of major knee surgery, and it's going to take a few weeks to get back into game shape.
In his first two games, Granger shot a combined 2-of-17. A lot of his misses were shots that he would normally make under regular circumstances. In his third game against the Los Angeles Clippers, he hit a respectable 5-of-10, and it looked like he was starting to get his legs under him.
If it weren't for his most recent performance, his scoring grade would probably be much lower.
Granger's rebounding average has decreased every season for the past three seasons, and it looks like it's probably going to continue.
Although he was never a renown rebounder throughout any part of his career, his two rebounds per 19 minutes a game is quite frightening.
The good news is that the Pacers don't really need him to do much rebounding. They already get more rebounds per game as a team than any other team in the league and that's without Granger for the majority of the season.
Once he works his way back into game shape, Granger's rebounding numbers should go up a little bit, and his extra effort on the glass would be crucial come playoff time.
Well, there isn't much to say here.
Granger has never wanted to pass the ball in the past, and he's not going to start passing it.
But, at times when he was on the floor, he deferred to his teammates much more often than he usually would. That didn't stop him from jacking up nine shots per game in just under 19 minutes, but maybe he realizes that his role on the team is different now.
Even if Granger is not the primary option on offense, he will still put his imprint on the game offensively and create plays for his teammates as he gets more games under his belt.
In his first three games, Granger has registered a staggering PER of—wait for it—2.
Not only that, but he's also contributing to a whopping negative number of win shares per-48 minutes with -0.115.
When Granger is on the floor, the Pacers have a terrible offensive rating of 72. Part of the reason could be that even though he's playing limited minutes, his usage rate is still a sky high 26.7 percent. It doesn't help when he's shooting 26 percent from the floor either.
Clearly Granger's play will catch up, but his three performances so far have been outright terrible, regardless if he's in shape or not.
Granger's defense is vastly underrated, but it will still take some time for him to get used to playing in the team's system again.
He's posting a defensive rating of 103, which isn't bad. But considering that the Pacers maintain the best defensive efficiency in the league (per Hollinger's Team Stats), Granger will need to step up defensively as the playoffs approach.
Individually, Granger is a good defender. He held opposing small forwards to a measly PER of 12.7 last season (per 82games.com), so it will just take sometime for him to recognize the team's defensive rotations.
Granger has had a rather poor showing in his first three games back, but most of it is expected.
Nobody could come off major knee surgery and immediately contribute at a high level, so Granger's slow start is just evidence of that.
Coincidentally, Granger is pretty well-known for his slow starts to a season. From the beginning of last season up until the All-Star break, Granger only put up 18.0 PPG and 38-percent shooting from the field. Afterwards, he registered 19.4 PPG on a more respectable 45 percent from the field.
As history has shown, Granger's play will most likely improve as he gets more playing time under his belt. The Pacers need him to get into game shape as soon as possible if they want to make a deep playoff run.