The biggest question mark for the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers all resides in the health of Danny Granger’s knee. The former all-star played in just five games during the previous season, and while he stated at Friday’s media day that he wasn’t 100% just yet, that there wasn’t anything he necessarily couldn’t do on the basketball court.
So naturally on Saturday after the defending Central Division champions held their first practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, everybody wanted to know. Just how did Danny Granger look?
“I didn’t see any limitations at all,” said Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel. “He just looked like Danny Granger. Not like last year’s Danny Granger, where you know, he was struggling to push off on certain plays. He looked like the two-years ago Danny Granger.”
The “two-years ago Danny Granger” played in all 62 games of the shortened season and averaged 18.2 points per game. If Indiana can get Granger to play once again in that type of form, the team that is considered by many to be among the top of the Eastern Conference will be even better. Of course that’s a long way from the opening practice of the season, but Granger seemed pretty happy with the result of day one.
“I was making a lot of shots and going to my moves,” said Granger. “I felt good. What is funny, is that taking the year off to let me knee heal, also that helps rest your body too. So the rest of my body feels good actually. I’m still obviously battling my knee, but the rest of my body feels great.”
Granger was seen partaking in lay-up drills with the squad, and seemed to be running up the door just fine. Before the media was allowed into practice though, it sounded like Granger and team star Paul George were able to go after each-other on the court.
“Coming in here my rookie year, I was always taking a beating from Danny,” said George, who just received a $80-$90 million contract extension this week. “It’s fun to kind of dish it out a little bit.”
Danny rolled his eyes with a smile at George’s playful comment, but George did comment that having Granger back on the court on Saturday was a major-strength for the second-unit. It will be interesting to see if over time if Granger can stay healthy and regain his form, perhaps competing for his starting spot sooner than later. Of course as Frank Vogel pointed out on Friday, both him and Lance Stephenson will be playing starters minutes no matter who comes off the bench.