Frank Vogel recently told Pacers.com’s Scott Agness that Danny Granger’s rehabilitation is on point.
“It’s really exciting,” Vogel said of Granger. “Danny is on schedule, looks really good, he’s making progress each week and we’re hoping that were going to be having a full-strength Danny Granger this year to add to this team that made a lot of noise last year.”
Lineup issues aside, bringing back Granger could be huge for a team that came just one victory away from making a finals appearance last season without him. Before a knee injury held him to just five games, he led Indiana in scoring during the 2011-12 campaign (18.7 points). Next to budding stars like Paul George and Roy Hibbert, he looks even better on paper.
The Pacers themselves look like a juggernaut on paper as well. With the acquisitions of Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and C.J. Watson, along with the return of Granger, they’ve added depth and offensive potency, two of their biggest weaknesses from last year.
Indy’s bench ranked 29th with 24.1 points dropped per contest in 2012-13, and its offense came in at 23rd (94.7). After the offseason the Pacers have had, however, they’re weakness’ suddenly seem like strengths.
That is, if they can bring this altogether.
One of the biggest questions facing Vogel and his Pacers is the starting lineup. The emergence of Lance Stephenson and George gives Indiana the option of bringing Granger off the bench, as a sixth man if you will. Stephenson could also be the one to join the second unit. Which, when you think about it, really isn’t so much a problem as it is a terrific query.
Either way, the Pacers are on course to add a strong wing to their bench they didn’t have last year. That six man rotation of Hibbert, George, Granger, Stephenson, David West and George Hill is scary. Toss in Scola, Copeland and C.J. Watson, and you’ve got yourself a team.
My one personal concern—outside of Granger’s health—is West. Indiana needed to hold onto him this summer, and it did. Three years and $36 million is a little steep for my tastes, but whatever.
At 33 and with a history of knee problems, however, I can’t help but wonder if he can duplicate last year’s performance. Assuming Granger returns the form, the need for him to drop 17 points a night isn’t there, but the Pacers also can’t afford to weather a significant statistical drop off from one of their most important players.
But that’s me being a pessimist. By all means, the summer was a success in Indiana. The Pacers have gotten better and remained in the hunt for an Eastern Conference crown. One could even argue they stand a better chance of dethroning the Miami Heat than the Chicago Bulls or any other team in East.
That all depends on Granger’s health and the supporting cast’s production of course. So long as what we see on paper translates to a more consistent offensive arsenal and deeper Pacers outfit, the rest of the East needs to be on watch. The Heat included.
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.