All-Star, NBA / Feb 5, 2009 / 9:00 am

Pacers should bench Danny Granger (It’s for their own good)

Danny GrangerDanny Granger (photo. NBA)

One game shy of the 50-game checkpoint, I’m liking this whole Indiana Pacers fan thing. Even though the team is losing, they play an entertaining brand of ball, they’re involved in a lot of close games, they seem like a decent group of guys, and I’ve had the privilege to watch Danny Granger turn into a superstar almost game-by-game.

A few other notes on the team as we approach All-Star break:

1. I’ve created and named myself president of the Society of Black Troy Murphy Fans. Look, I know he played at Notre Dame and I know he rocked an awful mustache that was an insult to 1980s-era Barry Bonds, but we need more members. So far it’s just me and Quinn Buckner.

2. Marquis Daniels moves brilliantly without the ball, but he’d average at least 4-6 more points if he ever decided to finish strong. I’m not sure if ‘Quis has zero hops or if he just doesn’t want to jump, but almost every time he gets to the rim he takes a weak reverse layup where he gets two inches off the ground. I can’t find the stats, but I’d be willing to bet he’s had more shots blocked than anyone on the team.

3. I’m starting to emulate Dime’s own The Jed and create reasons to like every player on the team. Seriously, you can stick the worst player in the world in a trade rumor involving his Celtics, and Jed will automatically start carving that guy’s name on the Most Improved Player trophy. When the C’s signed Patrick O’Bryant, Jed talked himself into the “He’s young and he’s got size” argument, even when the obvious way to go was, “He’s so bad, Kendrick Perkins‘ self-confidence can only improve.” With the Pacers, I’m finding reasons to like everyone on the team, even perennial headache-starter T.J. Ford.

But the real reason I wanted to use this space is to propose an idea: I think the Pacers need to judiciously rest Granger over the next couple weeks to keep him healthy for the All-Star Game. Now before you write this off as patently ridiculous — and believe me, I had to convince myself I wasn’t nuts when it first popped into my head — consider where I’m coming from:

Danny Granger (photo. Stephen Hill)

Granger has been playing on a sore knee all season, sitting out a game here and there, most recently last week against Milwaukee. (The Pacers are actually 3-1 without him.) In these past couple weeks, though, the knee is obviously bothering him more and more. Granger has looked slower and less explosive; even the Indy announcers have noticed his timing has been a bit off and he’s missed some plays he usually makes. In Tuesday night’s loss to the Wolves, Granger had a crunch-time finger roll blocked by Randy Foye, a play he would normally finish. He’s already been missing practices and shootarounds more often. And maybe it’s just because Jameer Nelson, Chris Paul, Gerald Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Andrew Bynum have all gotten hurt recently, but I’m getting worried that a more significant knee injury is right around the corner for Danny.

At 19-30, Indiana has the third-worst record in the East (ahead of Toronto and Washington). The playoffs aren’t completely out of the picture given the conference they’re in, but even the biggest Pacers fan would have to admit it’s unlikely. (I’ll gladly eat crow if the Pacers snatch the eighth seed, but the way they continually blow games in crunch time is bothersome.) So giving your star a night off here and there isn’t even as crucial as, say, the Spurs or Celtics resting the Big Three.

Why is it so important that Granger make it to All-Star? Larry Bird and Granger have both talked about how Danny’s All-Star selection is just as big for the franchise as it is for him, especially with the organization trying to reclaim its place among the NBA’s higher ranks. In terms of landing national TV games, gaining appeal with potential free agents and the like, it’s all about being relevant. And the more Granger is visible during All-Star Weekend — he’s been named to the Three-Point Shootout as well — the more the Pacers benefit. So at this point in the season, is it more important for Granger to make it to All-Star in one piece and perform on that stage, or for him to play in some relatively meaningless games between now and then? Looking at the schedule, Indiana has the Sixers, Magic, Wizards, Cavs and Bucks leading up to All-Star. If I’m Bird, I’m imploring coach Jim O’Brien to sit Granger at least for the Washington and Milwaukee games.

In Tuesday’s Indianapolis Star, Granger said he definitely wants to play in the All-Star Game even if he’s not at full strength, but doesn’t want to sit out any games, either.

“I think if we were in a different position as far as playoff positioning (I would consider it),” Granger said. “But we’re making a push and this is a very important stretch. Even if I’m not 100 percent, 50-60 percent is probably better than nothing.”

I’m glad Danny has that kind of focus and sees the playoffs as right in his grasp, but I have to look big picture here. For the good of the entire organization, as well as himself, it’s best he take a couple nights off to ensure he’s not just a spectator in Phoenix.

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  • fallinup

    @ Austin

    Just one point to make….Thanks. As you posted this topic..I was using the “find on this page” feature to see how many times the word “Lebron” could be found…I found 14 on just the first page alone. You consistently find stories that are more than related to basketball…you consistently find stories that don’t usually pertain to the usual fodder…Lebron, and Kobe. And for that, I say…

    Stank you.

  • fallinup

    Now on to Granger. Yes, he should be rested. I’d love to see him do his thing in the Allstar game. I just hope he gets minutes to do so. As in, Who’s coaching the east squad?

    The Pacers shouldn’t even be looking playoffs. And I hate it even more when a young team, on the verge of being a pretty damn good team…try to take the next step too fast and land a 7th/8th seed only to see them digress the next year trying to get back to that level….See: Golden State a couple years back.

    They have a few good pieces to build on and are a marquee player (big bruiser?) away from at least being relevant.

    And just so ya know. I love going down to Indy and checkin a game. One of the best stadiums I’ve been to.

  • ?

    #1- Word, give Austin a raise…you can take it out of CGF and Aron Philips’ salaries for all the irrelevant crap they put up (Undercrwn shirts? OOOooOOOoOOOooO fantastic!)

  • http://www.hotmail.com Mamba

    I love watching Grangers game, I get to see him next week which I am stoked about,

    He is one of the smarter players in the league and really is crafty when scoring his points – one of my boys always scoffs at D Grange for being boring and all that mess, but when you take a step back he is almost old school in his approach,

    Having said that I couldnt be happier for him to get the all star nod – and Troy Murph for sure puts up some sneaky damn good numbers! – that face up J from about 18 feet is money from him – not to mention he can bang inside and keep posessions alive,

    Q Daniels is a bit of mystery because you look at him and physically see just a beast, I think his numbers without questions could be higher – Indiana has some pieces, they can build around Granger these next few years and be right there again at the top of the east,

    Well done Austin

  • doc (i like kobe AND bron)

    AB get a new team,they stink.Come to the Sixers.

  • http://dime wiz

    The real reason for him not wanting to take a rest. Is due to all the fans that once sign a multi-million dollar deal. Seem to think your some kind of super being. Where you can’t be human. No emotions, no injuries, nothing. The gift and the curse. Once you sign the pressure is immense. Remember were all human. The same goes for at your regular 9-5. Due to increase in pay your rewarded for your hard work but your not expected to do miracles. Some guys definitely get the money they dont deserve. Granger on the other hand is deserving of every penny. Only a certain few in life work everyday as if it’s the last. Which then trancends to those real ones watching & witnessing. At the end of the day. He has to take care of him before. He can take care of the pacers organization. God only knows if he’s injured. He would no longer be in the team’s plan. Athletes walk a very thin line of being relevant and irrevelant. So please bear w/ the ones that sacrifice so much for the viewing pleasure of us. Put yourself in their shoes and think out of your box. Get your rest Grange before surgery is a must.

  • E$

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyB3lMrOvwE

    Jermaine had a Block party vs Lakers

  • Chaos

    Danny needs to rest. i see an allstar every time he plays but he cant make the moves he needs to make on a sore knee. he doesnt cut as quick and his explosiveness is suffering…good post AB

  • http://www.espn.com Sho-Nuff

    Danny Granger should be a NJ Net. Not stupid effing Antoine Wright.

    Curse the Nets management who passed on this guy!

  • Scoob

    Sign me up for the Troy Murphy club. Been destroying dudes in fantasy league for years with that cat. Been calling him my favorite “white boy” in the league for sometime.

  • http://www.espn.com Sho-Nuff

    “I definitely keep up with Dime all the time.The cover they did with me was the best one I’ve ever done. The magazine is stupid dope.” — Baron Davis

    Baron Davis still uses the term “Stupid Dope”, what is this the movie “Fresh” all over again with BD filling in as Chuck-E??