Danny Granger's Shot Selection Wasn't the Problem in Indiana's Loss to Detroit

In the Pacers first loss of the season, team captain Danny Granger shot a woeful 4-for-15 (26.7%) from the floor. Looking at the shot chart below, you see that 9 of his 11 misses came outside the paint. In fact, the only shot he hit aside from three buckets in the lane, was a 35-foot heave with the shot clock running out late in the second quarter. All this, combined with the fact that he only took 2 free throws in 38 minutes, is damning evidence that he spent the night taking terrible shots.

He’s a good shooter, right? So it either had to be just an off night or another one of those 2010 days where he lazily launched jumpers in lieu of trying to get his team a better look. Reading this piece in the Indianapolis Star from Mike Wells certainly suggests it is the latter.

He actually states that almost exactly.

Danny Granger wasn’t on the same page with his teammates. He was 4-of-15 from the field.

The Pacers are still feeling their way out offensively because they’re getting David West and George Hill use to the system.

That doesn’t excuse Granger’s poor shot selection.

As I wrote in the paper and mentioned in the blog earlier, the Pacers can’t afford to have personal egos get in the way this season.

Granger has to make the biggest change on offense. He can’t force things on offense because they don’t need him to force things. The Pacers have other players who can put the ball in the basket.

West has shown that. Paul George was on display in the first half at Toronto. Hill has come alive the past two games.

Granger’s trying too hard to score right now. He’ll still get his points (they won’t be as high as previous seasons). All he has to do is move the ball because it’ll come back to him. The Pacers don’t have a roster full of selfish players. They’ve got players who want to win, not just put up numbers.

My impression was quite different, however. I watched a poor shooting night from a good shooter. Sure, I thought his shot selection was weak on a few possessions. But to me there are many larger sins going on within this Pacers offense. To focus on a couple of lazy moments by Granger was, to me, overstating their importance.

So I decided to head over to Synergy Sports to review all of Danny’s shots last night against Detroit to see just how bad they were. For the uninitiated, Synergy is an NBA video index that catalogs (almost) every play from every NBA game. (You can subscribe to all 2011-12 Pacers coverage for $39.99 or all NBA coverage for $89.95.)

The following is my thoughts on each of Granger’s field goal attempts (and his one move that earned his only 2 FTAs). In short, I don’t think he took many bad shots at all. Jumpers, yeah. But he’s a jump-shooter first and foremost and these were mostly fine ones to take.

1. MAKE – Post Up
In a called play, Collison gets the ball to West on the wing who finds Danny posting up a few feet away from the left block. Granger catches and backs down Tayshaun, finally pivoting to his right hand to hit a 5-foot hook shot in the lane.

Shot clock: 10 sec left
Ruling: Good shot

2. MISS – Spot up left wing
With Collison being doubled by Granger’s man (Tayshaun), Darren drives and kicks to Danny in the corner. He catches and shot-fakes Prince, who bites — nearly flying out of bounds. Danny uses the time to take one dribble to his right and pulls up for the wide-open, on-balance 19-footer — which he nearly airballs.

Shot clock: 14 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

3. MISS – ISO layup
In the first option of a called action, Danny catches in the left mid-post/elbow area with his back to hoop. He reverse-pivots to face up, uses a shot-fake to beat Tayshaun, blows by him to the left and draws the help defender. He puts up a running layup with his right hand. He misses, but Tyler is right there for an uncontested tip-in since David West’s defender was forced to leave in help on Granger and West boxed out Jerebko (who had been guarding Hansbrough).

Shot clock: 8 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

4. MISS – Transition jumper
David West gets a defensive board and outlets to Danny, who pushes it up-court. None of the three defenders racing back pick him up closely and he pulls up for a an 18-foot jumper. He misses.

Shot clock: 20 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot (could have pulled it out, but a fine look he would usually make)

5. MISS – Pick-and-Roll drive
Pacers run a called high screen-and-roll with Granger and Hibbert. The pick holds up Tayshaun, leaving Monroe on Danny. He tries to exploit the mismatch and drives hard into the paint. He makes a spin move to his left and takes a 6-footer from the middle of the paint, which is well-contested by Jerebko (who roamed over to help during the spin). Granger is a little off-balance and clearly wan’t prepared to deal with Jerebko. Ideally, after the spin, he would have kicked it out to Collison, who was wide-open in the corner, but it’s hard to call a 6-foot shot a bad choice.

Shot clock: 12 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

6. MAKE – 35-foot jumper
A broken play and a thwarted post move attempt by David West lead to Danny catching a release-valve pass waaaay beyond the three-point line with the shot clock running out. He launches and drills a shot from Dan Marjele range.

Shot clock: 2 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot, even if Collison was open 



7. MISS – Spot-up jumper off a fade cut
Collison throws an entry pass to a strong-side posting HIbbert from the top of the key with Granger on the wing. Danny fakes a baseline hand-off cut, which Tay bites on hard, and instead fades back to the  baseline. Roy hits him spotting up. He shoots the wide-open 20-footer.

Shot clock: 14 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

8. MAKE – Layup off a baseline cut
Collison gets an offensive board to continue the possession after the previous Granger miss. DC is open on the perimeter for the jumper and looks poised to take it. Simultaneously, Danny cuts to the rim and Darren finds him on the other side of the hoop. Granger catches, pivots, takes a power dribble and lays it in.

Shot clock: 20 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

9. MISS – Isolation step-back jumper
After a defensive stop to make keep the Pacers down only 54-48 with 9:41 to go in the 3rd, Danny takes his first truly bad shot of the night. DC pushes it hard up the court, which gives Indy plenty of time to work for a good shot. He finds George on the right wing. George sees Granger open on the opposite wing and throws him a skip pass. Tayshaun closes out well and Greg Monroe also crowds Granger on the catch, negating the possibility of an open jumper. There are still 15 seconds on the shot clock and the offense has great spacing. Granger holds it, sizes up Tayshaun, dribbles right, crosses over left, takes one more dribble left to take a step-back jumper with Tayshaun right in his face.

Shot clock: 14 sec remaining
Ruling: Bad shot

9b. DRAWS FTs – Back-down post up
(NOTE: Not an official shot attempt since he was fouled)
Danny catches on the left wing with the whole side of the court open aside from Tayshaun, who is in front of him. In an uncalled action, Granger starts to back him down starting at the three-point line. He gets all the way to the block, banging with Prince until he makes a drop step and raises for the 3-foot shot, getting hammered by Prince and going to the line to make two freebies.

14 sec left on the shot clock
Ruling: Good shot

10. MISS – Iso step-back jumper
The next Pacers possession, Collison finds Danny on the right wing. He stands there making some useless jab-step fakes like he thinks he is Kobe before putting it on the deck going left. He takes two dribbles then pulls it back for a rushed, contested fadeaway.

Shot clock: 13 seconds remaining
Ruling: Bad shot

11. MAKE – Iso jumper
After a Tyler/Hill two-man game yields nothing, Danny catches at the top of the key off a double screen. He bobbles the catch and regathers, sizing up Damien Wilkins. He dribbles hard right and catches Wilkins retreating too far, pulling up at the free-throw line for an open jumper.

Shot clock: 5 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

12. MISS – Missed jumper after a pick-and-roll
Danny leads a top-of-the key PnR with Hansbrough, but both Pistons defenders play it perfectly. Granger keeps dribbling right and stops hard, pulling it back to this left for a step-back jumper. All things being equal, it’s not a quote-unquote good shot by any means, but he left Tayshaun in the dust after DG’s nice crossover pull-back. And his team was down 16 with under 8 minutes to go. So it’s hard to expect any scorer to pass up an open look like this when no one else on his team is creating any.

Shot clock: 5 sec remaining
Ruling: Bad shot

13. MISS – Three in transition
Pacers force a turnover as Tyler steals a pass and pushes it up court. He runs into a defender in the paint so leaves it for a trailing Granger behind the arc. Danny has all day, squares his feet, fires and misses.

Shot clock: 18 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

14. MISS – Three in the half court
With his team down 8 and less than 2 minutes left, Collison and Tyler run a high pick-and-roll. DC drives left but Detroit plays it well. He makes a nice cross-court kick out to Danny on the wing. Tayshaun is slow to recover but does manage to contest (albeit with the wrong hand) as Granger launches a very makable three that he bricks.

Shot clock: 11 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

15. MISS – Three off an in-bounds play
Danny rebounded his own miss from the previous shot and it eventually led to an under-the-basket out-of-bounds play. Coach Vogel choses to run a play to free up Danny for a three off a double screen. Granger catches the inbounds pass as Tayshaun fights through for a contest on his three attempt. Tay did recover but when a coach calls an out-of-bounds play to try to get a three and it works well enough to get you the ball with a look at the hoop, that’s a shot that most any NBA player is going to — and should — take.

Shot clock: 10 sec remaining
Ruling: Good shot

Final Verdict


By my count, Danny took 11 good shots compared to 3 bad shots (none or which came in the first half). (He also had 1 nice post-up move to get 2 points at the line.) Since his break-out All-Star season in 2008-09, Granger has definitely become less discerning about what shots to take. He has had games in which he just lazily flings upwards of 10 shots. He’s a great shooter so he is sometimes able to make even bad shots. He should definitely be criticized for even those bad shots that lead to points. And he did call his own number several times in the third and fourth quarters when the score was becoming increasingly lopsided and the team was trying to claw its way back into the game.

But this seems like just one of those nights when nothing was working for anyone in this offense. Including Danny’s ability to hit shots he normally makes.

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