No one man makes the Indiana Pacers. But the fact Danny Granger is expected to miss three months certainly doesn’t help things.
Indiana is one of the league’s up-and-coming teams and many experts’ pick to win the Central Division. The Pacers finished with the No. 4 seed in the East last year and gave Miami a couple fits in the second round of the playoffs.
They are physical, deep, play with an edge and play as a team.
But when it’s determined your best player will miss three months following a knee procedure … well, it strikes a little bit of a blow.
Granger averaged 18.7 points and 5.0 rebounds. He wasn’t an All-Star last season but he’s always on the brink of becoming one (and has been in the past). He also has a tendency to tick off more notable small forwards such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in head-to-head matchups.
Despite the presence and effectiveness of David West, Roy Hibbert (who’s always better with Granger around), George Hill, Paul George and others, Granger is Mr. Pacer. He’s 29-years old and has been in Indiana his entire career.
Losing him, without a doubt, is a blow.
“I think it is more challenging, but again, this is what this league is about,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Indianapolis Star. “Teams deal with injuries to their top guys. It’s something a lot of coaches go through. I haven’t had to deal with it much.”
With Chicago’s Derrick Rose out indefinitely (perhaps all season), the Pacers are still the team to beat in the Central. Question is, can they at least maintain pace until their main man returns? If not, we may be talking about the Milwaukee Bucks as the East’s No. 3 seed.
This is how the NBA is unfair. It seems like everyone gets a turn, and now fate has touched the Pacers. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond, because once Granger returns, the Pacers have the potential to be one of the league’s nifty storylines.
• Quick update: Beat writer Mike Wells of the Indy Star reported via his Twitter account the Pacers have “reached out to the agent of free agent swingman Mickael Pietrus as a possible replacement (for Granger) in the lineup.” Pietrus, 30, is a 6-foot-6 swingman. He averaged 6.9 points in 42 games with Boston last season.