Danny Granger Playing As Well As He Ever Has -- And He Knows Why

Last night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacers turned in a very strong performance to beat one of the best teams — if not the best team — in the league: the Oklahoma City Thunder. While dominant for two and a half quarters, the Pacers had to withstand a sublime performance by Kevin Durant and a furious comeback by the Thunder.

Withstand it they did, and it was largely thanks to yet another great fourth-quarter performance by Danny Granger. “The Captain” — as he is called in pre-game introductions — delivered 13 points and grabbed 3 offensive rebounds in the final 12 minutes as Indy gutted out their 34th win of the season to open their lead for the third seed to a game-and-a-half.

Danny Granger delivering in the fourth is becoming a common occurrence these days. Overall, Granger is playing some of the best ball of his career. Consider these factoids obtained using stats provided by the NBA:

  • Over the last five games, Granger is averaging 24.6 points per game on almost 54% shooting. If you look at the advanced statistics of effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and true shooting percentage (TS%), which take into account three pointers and overall scoring efficiency, his numbers are astronomical. His eFG% is .619, and his TS% is .656.
  • Paring it down to just the fourth quarter is even more impressive. In his four fourth-quarter performances alone (he sat the entire 4th in the Washington blowout), he has averaged 11.5 points (translates to over 41 points on a per-36 minute basis) while shooting almost 70% in normal FG%. He has hit 7 of his 8 three-point attempts, and his eFG% is a positively jaw-dropping .848.

The question early in the season was, “What’s wrong with Danny Granger?” After a win in January where Danny played well, but drew a lot of front iron, I asked him he thought his legs weren’t as strong as he wanted or needed them to be. His basic response was that no, they weren’t, but in a compressed season, there was little to be done about it other than fight through it.

Before last night’s game, I caught up to Danny and asked him if his body felt better, or if he’d just adapted to the wear-and-tear. He opted to answer more about the mental than the physical:

“It was kind of a puzzle to figure out, because I really had to change the way I’ve played over most of my career,” said Granger before last night’s win. “You know, I’ve always been a gunner. I could go for 40 any given night, because I’m just going to get shots up. That’s the way I had to play to keep my teams in games.

“Just took me awhile to figure out, that right now, we have a lot of weapons. David West is a great low post scorer. Roy Hibbert. Paul George. Leandro Barbosa gives us a big punch. We’ve got so many weapons on this team, and I can pick my spots now, so it’s become easier for me.”

As Granger rattled off his teammates, a smile crept onto his face, and a gleam into his eye. There’s an audible chuckle of joy when he says, “We’ve got so many weapons on this team …”  I followed up by saying it must be nice to look around the locker room, and see playoff-tested veterans like West, Barbosa, and George Hill, and was met by an even bigger smile from Granger as he nodded his head emphatically, and said, “Yes, it’s so very encouraging for our team.”

I’ve long believed that players are judged at the intersection of three things: what they can do, what they can’t do, and what you need them to do. This last one profoundly alters the perception of almost all players, mostly to their detriment. Danny’s game and role are approaching the point where the three intersect, and there was an almost palpable feeling of mixed joy and relief as Granger talked about his evolving situation.

That feeling should be shared throughout Pacerland. The Pacers certainly feel it. Coach Frank Vogel said before the Boston game, “We felt all along that when our offense was doing pretty well this year, we were doing pretty well as a team with Danny Granger was not playing at a high level. We always felt like when he started to play at a high level, we would really be dangerous. And that’s what we’re starting to see.”

Danny Granger is playing at a very high level, and as long as that’s true, the Pacers are very, very dangerous.

Tags: Danny Granger Frank Vogel Oklahoma City Thunder

  • NoLookPass

    We have the most selfish bench in the history of the NBA. We never give the ball to Tyler where he wants so he will always take a long bad jumper or attempt to take it closer and get it swiped in the lane, Barbosa is the biggest ball hog I’ve ever seen and will only pass to Lou who will always look to shoot but isn’t effective unless he has a open dunk or layup. D Jones will always look to shoot and Hill isn’t very good at PG and its bleeding over into his shooting.

    Frank isn’t a good coach he just has players who can overcome his lack of system. With a good coach we could be a title contender.

  • Paine

    .. You’re serious, aren’t you?

  • NoLookPass

    Uh yes, Our bench is extremely selfish and Frank is grossly overrated. We’re 56 games in and have no identity and nobody honestly knows what our offense is and we seemingly always have poor starts not being ready to play. Sure we have a fine record but with this roster we could be this good with Tim and Jared calling the shots. I love Frank as a babysitter but his coaching leaves a lot to be desired.

  • dwain

    I dunno if coach V is just a babysitter or not but it seems clear the Pacers team players like him and his style. If that is true and the team wants him back next year they better think long and hard about how they come ready to play in the season games remaining and the play offs. They finish with less than 40 wins and bow out of a first round playoff with 1 win…they may be looking at a new head coach next season…one that believes in wind sprints forever, meditation and visualization of winning before every game…not really sure a smash mouth coach wouldn’t be just the thing to snap these guys into playing every game full tilt…from start to finish…1000 free throws before bed every night anyone?

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  • http://indysportsbarn.wordpress.com Gavin Larson

    I don’t know about our team being selfish as in they are a bunch of me, me, me guys. I would definitely agree that sometimes I think some of them start to wear blinders and try to take the game on by themselves. I don’t like the fact that Hibbert and West don’t get the ball often enough and they virtually disappear from our offensive in the second half of games. West especially seems to get cookin’ off to a 10 point start by halftime and then nothing in the second half. This team has the potential to be very special, but is not going to beat any of the Super teams unless we continue to play good team basketball!

  • Mike

    Ha. Can’t believe I missed this. Pacers are 12 games over .500 and you’re talking about Hands-bro (of all people) not getting the looks “he wants”? Really? And I’m pretty sure Barbosa is averaging more ppg than our 2012 second round draft pick is. Hill is a bad pg? Obviously it’s not his natural posish but I bet every team in the League would want him as their backup pg. I agree that D Jones looks to shoot more often than not but he is what he is. Vogel is a bad coach? Prove it.

    How about you offer up some solutions to these “problems” instead of armchair quarterbacking? It takes a little more thought when you have to actually back up what you’re saying.

  • FreeAgentSignee

    Good job and good luck to Danny Granger and the Pacers!

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