It was announced today that the Miami HEAT and forward Danny Granger have agreed to a 2 year, $4.2 million dollar contract that will likely constitute Miami's bi-annual exception (assuming Miami's Big 3 return. If not, that could change the equation and the contract would serve as regular cap money). Granger, 31 is a former NBA All-Star (2009) with the Indiana Pacers and sports career averages of 17.4 points and 5.1 rebounds a game on 43.5% shooting and 38% from downtown.
That last stat is what makes Granger so tantalizing. Granger had increased his scoring every year for his first four seasons and developed into a major perimeter threat, averaging 25 points and attempting nearly 7 threes a game while making 40% of them during his lone All-Star season. As the Pacers worked their way out of mediocrity, Granger's scoring dipped, but his percentages remained consistent. He was an efficient player despite middling two point percentages due to a high volume of threes and free throws, both of which he had shown to be excellent at converting. He was very much a proto-Kevin Durant in this regard.
At 6'8" Granger was a capable defender during his Indiana days and infamously challenged LeBron James quite a bit during the 2012 postseason when Miami faced Indiana in the 2nd round. The fanbase derided Granger's antics and Granger's season was ended as Miami went on to capture their first NBA title of the LeBron James era. You'll notice the use of "was" quite a bit because of what followed for Granger.
After developing patellar tendinosis in the offseason, Granger had surgery and missed a good chunk of the early 2012-2013 season. He returned to serve as a 6th man for Indiana, but after 5 miserable games, had surgery on his left knee and missed the rest of the regular and postseason.
Pacers management assured everyone that Granger would be a part of the team's future plans despite the development of All-Star Paul George, and Granger again missed the start of the 2013 regular season. He did play 29 games for Indiana from December 20th on, but was then abruptly traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in order to acquire Evan Turner. He was bought out and signed by the Los Angeles Clippers on February 28th.
So how did Granger look last season? Well, the sample is still quite small, but considering he appeared to be nearing his end as a NBA player the season prior, there were a few reassuring signs. For both the Pacers and Clippers, Granger averaged around 8 points per game and he shot under 34% from three. Not ideal, but not terrible either and potentially an outlier based on his career three point shooting marks. Compared to the creaky combo of Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis, Granger still showed some off the dribble ability, though his mobility will likely never return to his prime Indiana days. His free throw attempts per 36 minutes have plummeted, which is a further sign that his off the bounce game has diminished.
If he returns to health, he can likely create some offense against second units however. During his days as a featured option Granger much preferred the above the break three pointer to the corners, but as he's transitioned into a role player, he redistributed his threes to become more corner friendly.
Danny Granger Shot Distribution: 2008-2009 vs. 2013-2014
Granger fell out of the Clippers postseason rotation due to an unfathomably bad cold shooting stretch and this likely played a factor in his departure. In Miami, Granger will man the backup small forward spot. He has just the length, though not the bulk, to play stretch four in pinches, but it remains to be seen if Miami will ask that of him.
While HEAT fans are encouraged by 2nd round draft pick James Ennis' Orlando Summer League play, a move like this shows Miami still values veterans and Granger and Ennis will jostle for some minutes unless either shows capable of playing shooting guard (Ennis would be more likely in this scenario).
Ultimately, everything I've analyzed could be irrelevant. Granger could break down again and be forced to retire, or he could become a sterling 6th man. It's hard for any of us to speculate as to what Danny Granger Miami is signing, but at $2 million dollars, it's a reasonable gamble
What are your thoughts on the Granger acquisition? Feel free to leave a comment below.