Saturday’s Team USA scrimmage vs. China was entertaining for the few onlookers inside Madison Square Garden. But more than anything, Danny Granger was just happy to play against some foreign competition after “beating up on each other for the past month,” as Granger put it.
And in the process, Granger may have also — finally — put to rest any “bubble” talk from analysts speculating whether or not Danny would make Team USA’s final, 12-man roster for the upcoming 2010 FIBA World Championship that start August 28 in Turkey. After the run, he himself admitted that it would he thinks it would be hard for anyone to leave him off the team after he went out and led the team with 22 points on 9/12 shooting, including 10 first quarter points (on 4/4 shooting) that helped set the tone for Team USA dominance.
His good shooting performance, along with two blocks during one four-minute stretch he had in the third quarter while playing out of the team’s 2-3 half-court zone and full-court zone press, should also put to rest any concerns about his finger, which he initially injured last week when his hand was caught in the net while playing defense. He originally thought the finger might be broken, or at least dislocated, but it turned out to just be a mild sprain, he said. Though he is still taping the ring and middle fingers of his shooting hand together and he admits “it was kind of weird,” just being aggressive out there helped him play so well Saturday.
“A lot of times, I’ve been passive and that’s not my game,” said Granger. “So I was going out there with that aggressive mentality.” Scorers gonna score, basically, was his mindset, as he added that he thinks every shot is a good shot.
It’s not just Granger that international defenses are going to have to worry about on the wing, of course,. Between him, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay and Andre Iguodala, the team has a whole stable of potent, athletic scorers. “We all are scorers when we’re out there,” he said. “It’s great because we’re all athletic.”
The transition to the shorter three-point line has been an adjustment for Danny, but based on the way he shot Saturday, moving in a few feet certainly hasn’t done anything to take away his most lethal weapon. And for the personnel on this team overall, the shorter line might be a good thing—particularly for guys like Derrick Rose and Lamar Odom who have accurate shots from midrange but become more erratic from 24 feet. “We all have to go through that [adjustment],” said Granger. “For some of us who aren’t shooters, it’s better.”
As far as all the activity back in Indiana, Danny loved the deal the Pacers made to acquire Darren Collison, calling it “an excellent trade.” Now that Troy Murphy is out of the picture, he expects to play the four spot more often next season, although he does think Larry Bird will make another deal to acquire a true power forward. Him playing extended minutes at the four probably isn’t ideal – for him or the Pacers – but he noted that his “ability to shoot the ball, stretch the floor” will help the offense. “Coach likes that,” he said.
UPDATE: From what Danny knows about Darren, he thinks Jim O’Brien will like Darren’s long-distance shooting, too. “When he got drafted, I’m not sure they knew how good of a shooter he was,” said Granger. “But he ended up shooting 40% from three for the year.”
The other big change for Danny during his Team USA days has been his shoes. Along with Durant and Rondo, he is wearing the red, white and blue colorway Nike Hyperfuse. He never wore them last season but is impressed and enjoys that several of the guys are all wearing the same Star Spangled design.