Tag Archives: Danny Granger

Clippers’ shots near the rim last night among highest totals this season

shot chart

ESPN.com’s shot chart of last night’s Clips-Lakers whatever-that-was-we-watched.

If last night’s blowout between the Clippers and Lakers actually happened and wasn’t one of those bizarre dreams you have while napping, it can be clumped in the middle of a special group of games where a team (or sometimes both) absolutely feasted at the rim.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Clippers were responsible for over two-thirds of those (mostly) bunnies all while they gave the purple and gold their worst loss in franchise history.

40 of the Clippers’ points within the restricted area came from lobs finished by Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, baskets by Darren Collison, and whatever Danny Granger has left in him. The team as a whole totaled 60 points inside that half-circle that was like a landing pad after fast break opportunities. The production from that area of the floor ranked above 99.5 percent of all single-game shot location logs this season plucked from NBA.com.

Below is the other .5 percent, sorted by the season-high for most field goals made within the restricted area:

The Lakers lead the league in most field goals allowed inside the restricted area and most attempted there, and it’s not that close between them and second place in those stats. So maybe it’s not that big of a surprise to see them on that list twice as an opponent, especially when Detroit typically scores a ton of their points at the rim and the Clippers added some extra salt during the third quarter of last night’s game when it was over by halftime.

As for the field goals the Lakers allowed the Clippers to attempt around the rim, last night’s 44 shots weren’t that close to the league’s season high of 53. Unfortunately for the Lakers, that was set in their game against Detroit (which they ended up winning, though).

Going into the last five weeks of the season, we’re bound to see another outlier game or two allowed from any shot location not just by the Lakers but other teams limping to the finish line like the 76ers (poor Thaddeus Young), New Orleans (poor Anthony Davis?), and the New York Knicks (poor, poor Carmelo Anthony), among other teams.

But who knows? Maybe the Lakers will be on the good side of one of those outliers. After all, in their last 20 games they’ve been one of the best 3-point shooting teams both in volume and accuracy, so there’s that.

The least that could be asked out of them right now, however, is for last night to never happen again.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

Danny Granger gives Indiana new possibilities, but also tough decisions (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part series about the return of Danny Granger. For part one, click here.

In an hour or so the Celtics will tip off against the Pacers, who recently got back Danny Granger after he missed the first 25 games with a calf strain. Indiana seemed just fine without their small forward who started 423 of 510 games from 2006 to 2012, but he can provide a major boost off the bench and allow Frank Vogel to experiment with some new lineups.

Granger looked better on Friday night than his numbers might indicate. He shot 1-for-7 from the field but the attempts were open and in rhythm, ones that will fall in time. There were also five turnovers, but a few of them were typical of a player in their first game of the season, turnovers everyone else (hopefully) got out of their system in the pre-season. It seemed like he has yet to get his legs fully under him, which is understandable. He blocked Dwight Howard from behind but there were also times when he didn’t elevate well. Overall, it seemed like a typical night for someone playing in their very first game of the season.

If he can stay healthy and work out the kinks, Granger can bolster an already improved bench. Their offensive efficiency is still in the bottom-10 among NBA benches, according to NBA.com, scoring 96.7 points per 100 possessions, but the shooting is much improved, up from 39.4 percent last year to 43.8. The bench’s defensive rating has remained top notch too, going from 97.2 points allowed per 100 possessions to 96.6. Granger’s a solid defender when healthy, so the Pacers shouldn’t take a hit on that end of the court.

Offensively, Granger’s certainly an upgrade over someone like Orlando Johnson, and the second unit already features key cogs with the likes of C.J. Watson, Luis Scola, Ian Mahimni, and sometimes Lance Stephenson. Without Granger, that’s still miles ahead of what the Pacers had to work with last year with D.J. Augustin, Sam Young, and Gerald Green, among others. With Granger as the sixth man, Indiana shouldn’t miss a beat when the most of the starters get their breathers.

Note: I should add that I’m expecting Granger to come off the bench because their starting lineup has a plus-minus differential of +5.3 per game. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Aside from being a sixth man, Granger could provide for some interesting lineups. This is especially when he’s paired with Paul George, who at times can run the point or move to shooting guard where he started his first two seasons. Vogel has already experimented with that super tall wing duo, pairing Granger and George with Hill, Scola, and Roy Hibbert for a few minutes as well as using the same starting lineup from 2012. Granger and George logged six minutes together on Friday night, according to NBA.com. The plus-minus differential was zero.

Along with going tall, a healthy Granger also makes for some small ball units. In 2012, Vogel used 17 of those lineups that placed George and Granger with only one power forward or center, according to NBA.com. The results were hot and cold, posting a plus-minus differential of plus-22 in just 59 minutes but shooting just 40 percent from the field. Of the time Granger was on the floor in 2012, three percent of it was at power forward, according to Basketball-Reference.

Houston, with the likes of Terrence Jones and Omri Casspi at power forward, provided an opportunity for Vogel to go small on Friday night, but only Granger played with those kinds of lineups when the game was well out of hand. Going forward, small lineups against New York and Miami, for example (especially when Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James play power forward), could be possible. Miami’s crunch time lineups often consist of consist of LeBron with Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, and Chris Bosh, but it’s unlikely Vogel would show that kind of card to Miami during the regular season.

Besides, going big is why Indiana does so well against Miami, among other teams. It’s obvious, but experimenting with Granger at power forward with the starters would mean sitting one of David West and Roy Hibbert. West would seem like the odd man out, unless Indiana wanted to gamble without one of the best rim protectors in the league. In that case, going small with George and Granger at small forward and power forward, respectively, might be better with the second unit and Ian Mahinmi at center.

Regardless, Miami’s preparing Greg Oden for the playoffs but Indiana has their own ace up their sleeve in Danny Granger. If he doesn’t get traded Frank Vogel has four months to find the best situations for him, and as long as he can stay healthy he could make an already great Pacers team even better.

For part one of this series about the cloud hanging over Danny Granger’s expiring contract, click here.

Danny Granger gives Indiana new possibilities, but also tough decisions (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part series, this one featuring the cloud hanging over Danny Granger’s future with Indiana. Click here for part two.

With already 21 wins, it’s easy to forget that the Indiana Pacers haven’t been at full strength this season. That is, until Danny Granger came off the bench last night after missing the first 25 games of the season with a strained calf. In a contrast of styles, the Pacers beat the Rockets by 33, coincidentally the number on Granger’s jersey.

Granger finished with only two points on 1-for-7 shooting, but he showed the potential of getting back to the player he used to be. Not since 2012 has he looked like himself, when the Pacers were nearly 12 points better per 100 possessions when he was on the court, according to NBA.com. He led them both in scoring and usage rate for both that season and, at the time, their most memorable playoff run in years. Indiana wasn’t the same when he was on the bench, a bottom-five team in scoring efficiency and mediocre defensively. 

But that was 2012. Look around the league and you’ll notice every team has gone through major changes over the last two seasons, and Indiana’s no different. Some Pacers on the 2012 roster were Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Leandro Barbosa, Jeff Foster, and Jeff Pendergraph (who’s now Jeff Ayres). Back then, Collison started ahead of George Hill while the rest made up a good chunk of the bench, one that’s now revamped with newcomers like Luis Scola and C.J. Watson, among others.

Indiana has also improved from within. This is no longer the Granger-led team from 2008 to 2012, the latter season being the one when Lance Stephenson was a go-to guy in garbage time (he even had a 45.8% usage rating in the playoffs). He’s become a proven, reliable shooting guard since then and can compliment the starting lineup and/or leads the second unit. Meanwhile, Roy Hibbert has become a defensive monster that’s lived up to his new contract.

The improvement that impacts Granger the most, though, comes from Paul George who, after faltering in the 2012 playoffs but breaking out in 2013, is now Indiana’s starting small forward until at least 2018. It’s an awkward spot for Granger who was Indiana’s first franchise cornerstone after they traded away nearly everyone involved in the Malice at the Palace. They’ve become a title contender without him and, in the process, have a small forward who’s having a better season than he ever had.

And Granger might not be around much longer, currently in the last year of a five-year deal worth $60 million. Given his recent injury history, his likely role off the bench this season and the $14 million he’s making this year, his next contract will certainly be cheaper. Indiana has only so much room to maneuver without dipping into the luxury tax, and any money thrown at a Pacer this summer will likely be given instead to Stephenson (which has been discussed here). He’s seven years younger than Granger, the only other impact player coming off the books, and the only starter without a long-term deal. Given the improvements Stephenson’s made in his first four seasons, Indiana might not even be able to afford him either.

Losing either one of those players, let alone both, would be a bummer given how much they’ve developed with Indiana. Stephenson has become a key piece to a title-contending team despite 39 players taken ahead of him in the 2010 Draft, but Granger led the franchise from their rock-bottom seasons in the mid-2000s to when they gave the Miami Heat their first major scare of the 2012 playoffs. Indiana’s been a thorn in the Heat’s side ever since, but Granger’s been an afterthought. That is, until last night when the fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse welcomed him back with a standing ovation. They did the same when he made his first field goal:

But Paul George had some highlights of his own, including a fast break dunk that brought the house down. He led the team in scoring all while hassling James Harden on the defensive end, a typical night from one of the premier players in the league. At one point, Granger was one of those guys.

How much of Granger’s future involves Indiana remains to be seen. He might even be gone before the trade deadline. It would be a cruel ending to his career as a Pacer, but the NBA is nonetheless a business.

The best scenario for both sides? Indiana lets Granger walk this summer, but only after he plays a pivotal role in helping the franchise win a championship. It would be a fitting end for a player who helped rebuild the Pacers from the bottom up, even if they may have won without him.

Just another reminder: This post isn’t meant to crap on Indiana’s great start by looking ahead to the trade deadline and summer. The next post will be devoted to some interesting lineups Danny Granger can be featured in. 

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