By: J.M. Poulard
There are so many great small forwards in the NBA that it is kind of tough for the good ones to get noticed. Seriously, between LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce, it can be tough for people to realize how talented a player is if he has to play the same position as those guys. Indeed, Danny Granger garnered national attention in recent years for wanting to build an actual Batcave in his house as opposed to being recognized for his scoring ability as the starting small forward for the Indiana Pacers.
Why is it that the spotlight finds ways to avoid Granger? There are various reasons, but the biggest one obviously is the team’s record. As long as the Indiana Pacers continue to be at the bottom of the standings, it will be hard for anyone outside the state of Indiana to take notice of his talents. Look at the team’s record in the past few seasons:
No matter what the record of a team is, one can still look at the performance of its best player and give him his just due for still showing up and giving it his best. For instance, Kevin Love is playing for a bad Minnesota team right now but that does not mean that we should ignore his incredible level of play so far this season. But then again, would Danny Ocean matter at all to us if he had been unsuccessful in pulling off the heist at the Bellagio in Ocean’s Eleven? Probably not. Consequently, the Pacers need to start winning for most people to even realize that the former New Mexico player is still in the league.
Also, there is the small matter of his declining production. We marveled at Granger’s ability to consistently improve his game, as his scoring average progressively increased in his first four seasons. Look at the numbers the Pacers star forward put up in his first four years:
His steady improvement was far too hard for the rest of the league to ignore, and thus he was rewarded by being selected to participate in the 2009 NBA All-Star Game. Mind you, the true measure of stardom in the NBA is the ability to be great consistently. And although Granger’s production has still been better than most players at his position, his statistical output still took a dip after his great 2008-09 season. Have a look at the graphic below:
Our would be Batman’s scoring output has decreased in his past two seasons, and the same thing has happened with his field goal shooting. No longer do we view Granger has the high scoring forward with the below the rim game that no one can stop; instead he is now labeled as “the guy putting up decent numbers on a bad team”. Gone are the incredible scoring outbursts like when he lit up the Jazz last season at home for 44 points in a win, instead we now have to settle for a routine 20 points every night.
Granger is no longer seen as being in the same class as players like Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce; instead we are now more enamored with the likes of Wilson Chandler and Rudy Gay because of their prowess as scorers but also because they have a knack for turning defenders into screensavers. Don’t be fooled though; despite the declining production and the subpar team record, Danny Granger can still get hot for long stretches. His performance against the Clippers Monday night should serve as a reminder of his skill set. Dorell Wright will have his hands full when he comes to Oracle Wednesday night, but then again so will Danny Granger. Enjoy the fireworks…