A lot of people believe that this is the second straight year of Danny’s devolution. That’s not entirely true. Or, it’s at least not entirely fair.
He definitely struggled with his shot selection in the first half of last season, but he was rather banged up. He entered the year with a very balky knee. He played through it mostly but you could tell that his relative lack of mobility was part of the reason he settled for so many long-distance, mediocre shots when he could have pressed the issue and driven into the lane. He certainly was also just frustrated and settling because he was in a funk and too mentally lazy to leverage his natural gifts for finding ways to score creatively — but it was definitely a combination of both.
And then Granger tore his the plantar fascia in his right foot. He missed 16 games, during which the Pacers went 5-11. In his first 7 games back, he shot a woeful 37.5% (48 of 128) as he was clearly still not 100%.
But then something happened.
He rededicated himself to taking better shots and focused on getting into the lane. By and large, he was once again playing like the former All-Star he had been the prior year while shooting 46.4% in February and 48.5% in March on his way to monthly scoring totals of 24.8 ppg and 27.5 ppg, respectively. He became a dynamic scorer again rather than simply a lazy, hurt, long-range chucker and it led to him shooting 45.6% from the field and 38.3% from behind the arc in the second half of the year. He also got to the line 7.7 times a night as opposed to 6.3 times before the break.
Basically, it was a tale of two halves of a season — one woefully inefficient, one wonderfully dynamic.
Of course, nobody watched the Pacers play in the second half of the year last season so this isn’t widely known information. And since Danny has clearly regressed from an efficiency standpoint this year (while perfectly healthy), people look at his overall shooting percentage of 42.8 last year and believe he’s has now been downward spiraling for the past 124 games.
I’m not going to defend his current season struggles (which Greg Anthony breaks down well in the video below).
But just for the record, over his past 120-ish games, he was really inefficient for most of the first 40, very efficient for most of the middle 40 and again very inefficient for most of the last 40.
And as is the case with Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison, if he doesn’t go back to at least “rather efficient” and generally effective over the next 40, the Pacers will be in the lottery again.