Danny Granger To New Orleans an Intriguing Possibility
Looking forward to next season we will be taking a look at Danny Granger and why it might not be so far fetched to think that he could be dealt at some point this season. Yesterday I talked about how the Hornets should just lay low this summer and wait until the season is under way to add players.
Granger, a New Orleans native, is exactly the type of player that the Hornets should be looking to acquire due to his on court skills, the Pacers recent draft picks, their team needs, and most importantly their ownership situation.
Let’s start with taking a look at what kind of player he is. Here are some basic stats comparing Granger to the average NBA small forward, adjusted for playing time of course. The league average reflects guys who played 40 or more games at small forward and averaged in excess of 25 minutes per game. All stats are per 40 minutes.
(All stats are from HoopData.com)
And then some more advanced stuff.
Lastly, the on/off court numbers from last year (via 82games.com)
|stat||pts scored/100 poss||pts allowed/100 poss||points/100 poss|
Let’s leave the eye test scouting to John Hollinger:
Granger is amazing for a high scorer because he gets most of his points in the flow, just catching and shooting. At 6-foot-9 he can get his shot off over almost anybody, and creates a matchup problem at either forward spot. Put a small defender on him and he’ll feast on turnarounds in the post, but when he moves up to the 4 he can run bigs ragged on the perimeter and drive past them to his right. But where he’s at his absolute deadliest is on the secondary break: He’s great at following plays as a trailer and stepping into a 3 while he runs up court.
So if you didn’t know before, you probably do now. Danny Granger can ball. Not only that, but his contract is reasonable considering he’s in all the fourth best small forward in the game today.
What you might find odd is that despite seemingly being a perfect fit at small forward, Granger actually played over half his minutes at the power forward position last year. His opponents at the PF position racked up a 17.9 PER, whereas when he was defending small forwards they managed only a measly 14.9 PER, below league average.
On New Orleans, Granger shouldn’t have to play much power forward at all because the Hornets have four guys under contract at that position (I count Posey as a PF now). Additionally it would be expected that his three point percentage, and really overall shooting percentage would improve since Chris Paul is so beneficial to three point shooters.
If Granger were to become a Hornet I would expect to see his usage rate drop, his efficiency rates rise even higher. He’s a perfect fit in the offense as he would provide the team with a three point shooting threat to replace Peja, and undoubtedly be the guy taking shots with the game on the line. His height and quick release allows him to take shots that Chris Paul and Marcus Thornton just can’t be counted on to get off against double teams or taller defenders.
As a player who commands a double team, Granger would certainly be the Hornets leading scorer and would perfectly complement Chris Paul at the small forward position. He would slide into Peja’s spot and give the team an instant upgrade in just about every aspect of the game. He would also give team a nice, albeit slightly above average wing defender who would be a huge improvement over Peja on help defense.
Granger’s contract runs through 2014 at 11, 12, 13, and then 14 million dollars. compare that to someone like Rudy Gay who Granger is superior to, and you come to the conclusion that he has a reasonable, if not good, salary.
The only downside to Granger is his injury history. While not extensive, he has missed 35 games in the past two seasons with knee and foot injuries
Now that we’re done fantasizing about the possibility of Granger in a Hornets uniform, let’s discuss the reality of it. There are a few simple reasons in which Granger may become available, all of them unsubstantiated and speculative.
1. Indiana just used the 10th pick in the draft to acquire Paul George, a Granger clone who stands at the same height, plays the same position, has the same skill set, and comes at 1/5th the price. According to a bunch of people he’s got the skill set to be a real player in the league one day, even if I think he’s going to be a bust. Larry Bird obviously is high on him since he took him in the draft even though their needs are at point guard, not small forward.
Some people think that he can play shooting guard, but in reality that’s a bad idea. He’s a natural fit at the three and the team would be doing him a disservice by throwing him in at an already overloaded shooting guard position. Much like they continue to disservice Granger by playing him at the four.
2. The team has serious external problems that don’t seem like they will remedy themselves. Just recently the city of Indianapolis agreed to essentially subsidize the team in order to keep it in the area. The problems, according Jared Wade of eightpointsnineseconds.com:
- Flagging Fan Base
It’s no secret that the Pacers have fallen from grace with the locals over the last few years. There’s no reason to recount the mind-numbing series of off-court embarrassments nor the four straight seasons finishing out of the playoffs that explain a large part of the “why.” To be brutally honest, however, Indy has never really been an NBA town, and it certainly doesn’t help the Pacers that they hit rock bottom just as the Colts were winning a Super Bowl. Ultimately, It has been easy for Indianapolis sports fans to find alternate places to spend their sports entertainment dollar.
- Shallow Local Pockets
Indianapolis is not a large city, nor is it growing at any appreciable rate. It is generally expected that the U.S. economy will turn around, but the truth of the matter is that many cities all over the country have been trying to do too much with too little through both good times and bad for quite some time now. Regardless of how much the economy rebounds, it is unlikely that future deals like this will ever be any more popular among the vocal tax base than this one was. About 70% of more than 2,100 respondents to an Indy Star Poll viewed this deal as a “Corporate Bailout.” There will never be enough money for police and schools and potholes and hoops.
Those problems, along with the economic standing of a team “hemorrhaging tens of millions of dollars annually” could prove to be too much to tackle for aging owner.
Shortly before Mel Simon passed away, his [partner] Herb bought him out, becoming the sole owner of the Indiana Pacers. The Simons have owned the Pacers since 1985, showing an admirable commitment to keeping the Pacers in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, Herb is 75 years old, and it’s far from set in stone that the next generation of Simons will want to take over the franchise. Despite comments indicating they have no intention of selling, it’s becoming harder and harder to believe that it’s not a possibility.
We all know what happens when teams want to sell in a bad economy. They strip it down of liabilities. That’s exactly how the Hornets were able to get Okafor away from Charlotte. It was about reducing the long term liabilities of the team in order to increase the sales price.
While I can’t say with any sort of certainty that Herb Simon is looking to sell the team, another bad year of losing tens of millions of dollars leading up to a potential lockout in the summer of 2011 can’t be too appealing. Much like George Shinn decided he wanted to take it easy in his old age, Herb Simon might feel the same way.
3. The team could be very bad yet again. The Pacers aren’t a terrible team, especially with Granger, but their roster at absolute best would still be a first round playoff loser. Worst case scenario is much, much worse and would leave them completely out of the playoff picture by mid season.
If we are going to constantly talk about how CP3, LeBron, Bosh, Wade, etc, want nothing more than to win titles, then why not talk about Granger? Here’s a guy who can be a number two on a title team, has never been part of a winning season, and has been to the playoffs only once in five years. At some point he might just say enough is enough, I want out of here.
The Pacers have been methodically shedding salary for years and years and there is no certainty at all that they will be able to make a major score in free agency in 2011 (if there is a free agency in 2011). If Granger decides he’s unhappy losing then the Pacers might be willing to pull the trigger on a deal that would bring back some cheap young talent.
The Hornets would be a natural landing place, having the perfect blend of Darren Collison, who would be a cheap and perfect fit as the Pacers point guard of the future, and a number of expiring contracts.
I’m going to stop now since I’ve been at this ridiculous article for the better part of three hours and I feel like anything more would be like beating a dead Mr. Ed.
If you want to ask me some questions or make some comments I’ll be over at ESPN’s Daily Dime Chat for the next few hours.