After nothing short of a disappointing start that saw the Pacers begin the season 4-7, Indiana has gone 14-6 to improve to 18-13, the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. And, once again, the Pacers finally look like a team that is going to make some noise in the playoffs, even if that dictates they do so without Granger.
But why would they want to?
Yes, Indiana has started to play extremely well without him, but just imagine how much more formidable of an opponent they’ll be with him. Bear in mind that while the Pacers are second in points allowed per game (90.3), they’re 28th in points scored (91.8). Granger adds another potent scorer to their lineup and instantly provides what is still some much-needed offense.
And as Mike Wells of the The Indianapolis Star notes, the team would be foolish to give that up:
It’s ludicrous to think the Pacers need to trade Granger now that Paul George has finally taken off.
Every elite team has multiple players who can take over a game.
The Pacers need that, too.
Granger’s presence on the court will help open up things for the other four players.
It really is absolutely crazy to believe that Indiana should trade Granger now. Sure, he’s on the verge of 30 and yes, he can become a free agent after next season, but that means little. Paul George’s progression, on the other hand, means everything.
George is currently averaging 16.5 points per game and has really blossomed into a multi-faceted scorer who can torch defenses from anywhere on the court. Granger, who averaged 18.7 points only last season, provides much of the same potency. Splitting up a pairing like that is beyond futile.
I get that Granger may disrupt some of Indiana’s chemistry upon his return, but this is true of all stars. When such a lethal weapon is re-integrated, it takes time for him to gel with the rest of the team. But usually, it’s worth the wait, and Granger will prove to be no exception.
Both he and George can excel on or off the ball, which is huge. They won’t be jostling for position the way same star-studded duos are forced to. Instead, they complement each other quite nicely.
More importantly, they give the Pacers arguably two stars, which has become a necessity in this league.
David West isn’t a star. George Hill isn’t a star. Not even the offensively-disappointing Roy Hibbert can be considered a star. Granger and George, though, are. They’re two of the most deft scorers in the game who, together, can help reverse the current weak offensive narrative that is plaguing Indiana.
Again, the Pacers have—for the most part—fared well without Granger. Even in his absence, they’re still a good team. With him, though, they stand to be a great faction.
One that can lay some serious claim to the coveted status of legitimate title contender.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.