The Indiana Pacers are deeper than they were last season, but it’s going to take more than depth for them to take the next step, which means reaching the NBA finals. Maybe the most important change they’ll need for them to work out is Danny Granger returning, and having Paul George accommodate well to that “little” tweak.
Until his injury that took him out from almost the entire 2012-2013 NBA Season, Danny Granger was the guy for the Indiana Pacers, leading the team in scoring for five consecutive seasons. Last season he managed to comeback for only five games, averaging 5.4 points before fading back into the background, waiting to get healthier.
The Pacers didn’t do badly without him. They finished with the third best record in the Eastern Conference, and his absence moved Paul George to the Small forward position. George averaged 16.7 points in the regular season, winning the league’s Most Improved player award, while also getting to the All-Star game, earning an All-Defensive (second team) selection and an All-NBA (third team) selection as well.
There has been a theory for quite some time that the Pacers should simply go with George and trade away Granger while he still has value, because George is the better player, the younger player and it works better for their lineup, as last season showed, reaching the conference final and losing in game 7 to the Miami Heat, the closest they’ve gotten to the NBA finals since 2000.
But the Pacers are trying to make the most of Granger’s final season on his contract, which are usually strong years for any player trying to prove he still deserves big money, not to mention a place in the league, making $14 million this season. The problem is that Granger can’t play and especially not guard shooting guards, which means Paul George will move back to that position, pushing Lance Stephenson to the bench.
George is about to sign a five-year, $90 million extension, meaning the Pacers see him as their franchise player, on a young team with players that should get better as the teams moves forward, planning on skipping over the hurdle that held them back for the last couple of years – the Miami Heat.
But how will the addition of Granger into the equation change the team? They’re different players. Granger is a lot more limited in his offensive ability, but probably the better and more consistent shooter than George.
Paul George is one of the best perimeter players in the NBA who can do it all, including guard almost every position on the floor, as he has showed last playoffs by manhandling Carmelo Anthony and making life hard for LeBron James, although the latter mostly had to do with Roy Hibbert waiting in the paint.
Everyone is talking optimistic about this prospect, but it’s going to take more than the preseason or even a month of basketball to determine whether the new Indiana Pacers, with an old face returning, actually now have what it takes to become the best team in the Eastern Conference, finally having all the pieces they need to overcome the Miami Heat.