Indiana Pacers: Questions Surrounding Danny Granger's Season-Ending Surgery
It has been recently reported by Scott Agness on his Indiana Pacers' blog that Danny Granger has underwent successful surgery on his left knee, but he won't be ready to return until training camp next season.
His left knee surgery was deemed a success, but you don’t really know until months later. It’s unclear what exact surgery was performed but all signs point to a full recovery, although knees are unpredictable and often finicky. The Pacers expect him to be ready for training camp in October.
So what does this mean for the Pacers?
For one, Granger was the leading scorer of the team for the past five seasons and was a major contributor to the Pacers' playoff appearances in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 campaigns.
Although he's not the best player on the team anymore—and probably won't ever be again—he's still a proven player with plenty of experience to offer to this young group of players.
Since the 2007-08 season, Granger has averaged 21.4 PPG in over 35 minutes per game with the team, and his offensive production has been missed all season, as the Pacers stumbled to a bottom-10 offensive team for most of the season.
They have picked up their offense as of late, and are currently ranked 18th in offensive efficiency this season (per Hollinger's Team Stats), largely due to the resurgence of key players like David West and Roy Hibbert.
Additionally, Granger's absence for the rest of the season, and the playoffs, would bring up a few interesting questions.
Paul George has been having a break-out season thus far, garnering an All-Star selection and cementing himself as one of the best all-around swingmen in the league. However, he has yet to prove that he could play under intense pressure during the playoffs.
At just 22 years of age, George is still growing and developing. His past two playoff appearances have been mediocre, as he registered 8.6 PPG on 36.7 percent shooting in 16 total playoff games (per Basketball Reference).
Could the Pacers risk dealing Granger and his hefty contract that pays him $14 million next season?
Granger would still have value during the offseason as he continues his recovery, and the Pacers could try to snatch a few young pieces or a cheaper veteran role player to build around their core of Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert.
The Pacers organization must remember that this season's success has been accomplished without Granger. Although they had a slow start early in the season, the team has adjusted, and George's emergence is a story in itself.
How will the rest of the team respond in the playoffs?
We all know Granger was a great scorer, but he was also a great defender at his position. Last season, he held opposing small forwards to a PER of 12.7 (per 82games.com), which is incredible considering the high amount of talent at that position in the league today.
George has picked up his play on defense this season and has made a name for himself as one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league. Unlike Granger, George is more versatile defensively and could defend any quick point guard or big forward because of his blend of length and quickness.
The rest of the team has picked up the scoring load for most of the season, but they will need to be just as effective in the playoffs. George is playing Granger's natural position, so most of the burden will be on him to produce on offense.
West is arguably the best pure scorer on the team, and he's expected to contribute mightily in the scoring column as well.
It's never easy for a team to lose their franchise player and expect to remain an elite team. However, the Pacers have demonstrated that they are the real deal, even without their former All-Star in the lineup.
If the Pacers could pull everything together and make a long playoff run, Granger's absence will be forgotten very quickly, and the team would have plenty of options in the offseason.
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