Pacers Stat of the Week: Life Without Granger

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22-26. This is the Pacers’ record since 2005-06 in games played without Danny Granger. The team’s record in regular season games with Granger over the same period is 237-273 (.465).

Two things jump out at me when I look at these stats.

The first thing I notice is that Granger has been incredibly healthy over the course of his career. The Pacers have played 548 regular season games since drafting Granger, and he has played in 510 (91%) of them. For a guy who slid in the draft due to injury concerns, that’s pretty darn good, especially when you consider that 20 of those 38 missed games came in 2009-10 campaign (almost all due to a torn plantar fascia) in which precaution was prioritized over wins.

The second is that it hasn’t exactly been the end of the world for the Pacers when Granger has had to miss a game or two. Everyone knows the Pacers are a better team with Granger — it would be silly to argue otherwise — but the team has been able to absorb Granger’s absence fairly well in the past. My hunch is that they’ll be able to get along without him fairly well on a short-term basis this season for a couple of reasons.

Mainly, I don’t think it will be a huge issue because the small forward position became the deepest position on the team this summer. Last season Dahntay Jones was the team’s primary back-up at the three, and the only other option to soak up minutes at the position was to slide Paul George over from the shooting guard spot. This offseason, the Pacers signed Gerald Green and Sam Young and drafted Orlando Johnson. All three of those guys are capable of playing the three, though Johnson is primarily a guard (and a completely unproven on at that).

Another reason is that the team is not built around Granger any more — if it ever was. In the past the Pacers needed Granger to score prolifically in order to succeed. Frank Vogel and a vastly improved supporting cast have changed this. The team now relies on a balanced approach. Granger’s scoring is no longer the irreplaceable skill it once was. The “most irreplaceable” mantel has been passed – probably to David West, though you could make an argument for Roy Hibbert.

The bottom line is that this loss is a survivable one, if, as Vogel pointed out the other day, other guys step up. Here’s looking at you Paul George, Gerald Green, Lance Stephenson, and Sam Young.

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