LA Clippers the Right Place for Danny Granger to Get Career Back on Track

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LA Clippers the Right Place for Danny Granger to Get Career Back on Track
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After reaching a contract buyout agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 26, former Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne.

Although Granger developed into a star with the Pacers by averaging 18 points or more in five straight seasons and making the 2009 Eastern Conference All-Star team, knee injuries derailed his once-promising NBA career. He played just five games total during 2012-13 and appeared in 29 contests (two starts) for the Pacers this season—making a negligible impact on the offensive end in each instance.

He was in the final year of his contract, so Indiana's front office decided to flip him for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen at the trade deadline as a means of upgrading its own roster.

By signing with the Clippers, Granger has found the perfect situation to get his professional career back on track.

Unlike the bleak situation in Philly—where the team is clearly tanking for better 2014 draft position—the Clippers are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff hunt with a 40-20 record (fourth-best in the West).

All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have led the way under head coach Doc Rivers, but there’s reason to believe Granger can make a meaningful impact in his new threads.

 

Lowered Expectations/Favorable Role

Granger averaged 8.3 points on just 35.9 percent shooting in 29 appearances for the Pacers. Many fans were expecting him to be the final piece to Indiana’s championship puzzle upon returning from injury, but it became increasingly clear he had lost much of his previous athleticism and was no longer able to create for himself on offense.

He was a dynamic player in his prime, but those days are now a distant memory.

Alongside CP3 and Griffin in LA, Granger will merely have to become a glorified role player.

The Clippers already have the league’s second-best offensive efficiency without the new addition—scoring 109 points per 100 possessions, tied with the Portland Trail Blazers. So, unlike the defensive-minded Pacers, LA doesn’t need a volume scorer to help overcome offensive shortcomings.

Rather, Rivers’ roster needs someone who can play sound defense in short spurts and confidently take shots as a complementary jump-shooter. Granger should have little trouble filling that role with lowered expectations.

The 30-year-old’s shooting stroke has been spotty in recent years, but the numbers suggest his defense is still making a positive impact.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

His defensive rating in Indiana (team points allowed per 100 possessions with Granger on the court) was a stellar 90.1, according to NBA.com. His mark was better than that of teammates Paul George (93.8) and Roy Hibbert (93.6).

Granted, his All-Star teammates have posted those ratings by primarily going up against opposing teams' starters while Granger played against second units most of the time. Indy is also a defensive juggernaut, so having players around him who defend with tenacity upped his production by default. However, it’s still noteworthy that the veteran bought in to defense after years as a 20-point-per-game scorer.

In addition to his defensive rating, Granger held opponents to a production rating of 10.3, according to 82games.com. That was third-best on the team behind Orlando Johnson and starting power forward David West.

The Clippers don’t need Granger to be an offensive savior. As long as he holds his own on defense (as he did with the Pacers) while knocking down the occasional three-pointer, he should fulfill his duties on his new squad.

 

Team Need/Injuries

Like so many other NBA teams around the league, the Clippers are dealing with a variety of ailments.

Rocky Widner/Getty Images

J.J. Redick was brought in to space the floor on offense with outside shooting, but he's out indefinitely due to a bulging disc in his back, per the Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner.

Coach Rivers didn't sound too optimistic about the sharpshooter's return timetable.

"(It) could be three days, two weeks, three weeks. No one knows," he said, per Turner. "There's no set deadline on when he's coming back. He could be back quick or it could take a while."

That isn't a good sign for LA, especially when volume-scoring guard Jamal Crawford is also dinged up with a strained calf, per ESPN.com's Arash Markazi.

The Clips desperately needed to bring another shooter on board to patch up injury woes, and Granger should be able to provide that.

He isn't a crafty playmaker like Crawford nor a dead-eye shooter like Redick, but he's an established veteran with plenty of experience. Defenses will have to honor his outside shooting, which will prevent LA's offense from spacing issues when he's on the court.

 

Comparison to New Teammates

The Clippers’ situation on the wings has been a revolving door in 2013-14.

Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley, Hedo Turkoglu, Antawn Jamison and Stephen Jackson have all been part of Coach Rivers’ lazy Susan of forwards, and their production has been mediocre at best.

While Barnes has continued to play hard-nosed basketball in 25.1 minutes per game, his numbers compared to last year have dipped.

Matt Barnes' Stats by Season
2012-13: 46.2% FG 34.2% 3P 10.3 PPG 4.6 RPG 1.5 APG
2013-14: 40.5% FG 33.6% 3P 8.1 PPG 4.1 RPG 1.7 APG

ESPN.com

He’s scoring fewer points on a significantly less efficient clip from the field. The 33-year-old veteran is also grabbing his lowest total of rebounds since 2005-06 and is picking up a career-high three personal fouls per contest—meaning he’s had a hard time playing defense without fouling. (Perhaps that’s partly due to his reputation, but still.)

Dudley, who came over from the Phoenix Suns in the short-sighted Eric Bledsoe trade, has quite frankly been terrible since switching squads.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

The Boston College product said as much in December, tweeting, “I have to apologize to all clipper fans by my play this season! I have been playing like s***. It’s been downright embarrassing!” per the Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner.

The 28-year-old forward is shooting 36.1 percent from long range—the lowest mark since his rookie year with the Charlotte Bobcats—while posting a player efficiency rating of 8.99.

He simply hasn’t looked comfortable this season, which makes the Granger signing a viable safety net for the stretch run.

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That fails to mention Turkoglu, Jamison and Jackson. The latter two were sent packing, and Turkoglu hasn’t been the same player for quite some time.

When compared to the current backlog of swingmen, Granger’s presence can only be seen as a net positive. Barnes and Dudley have seen their production slip, and the 34-year-old Turkish forward has been a non-factor in his 18 games in a Clippers uniform. 

If nothing else, Granger is a veteran looking to rejuvenate his career. He doesn’t need to score 20 points per game anymore to be effective. Given his defensive prowess and pedigree compared to new teammates, this signing is a no-brainer.

Granger won’t make the Clippers significantly better, but his presence along with free-agent addition Glen Davis makes LA even more intriguing.

Don’t be surprised if the New Mexico product hits some clutch shots moving forward.

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