For five consecutive seasons (2007-8 -- 2011-12), Danny Granger was the leading scorer on the Indiana Pacers. All but that first year the Pacers made the playoffs and Granger had seasons averaging 19.6, 25.8, 24.1, 20.5, and 18.7 PPG. Granger as an All-Star, Team USA member, and respected leader among the NBA.
In 2012, Granger suffered from various knee injuries. Left patellar tendinosis sidellined Granger for all but 5 games that season, and saw Lance Stephenson rise up and start in his place. Last year, Granger still suffering from setbacks, played off the bench once he returned and then was dealt at the trade deadline for Evan Turner.
Granger had spent his whole career with the Pacers, and after two disappointing seasons, was gone. Granger finished the season with the Clippers where he never really fit in.
Now, the Heat have Granger with the hopes that he can be a leader off the bench behind Luol Deng at small forward. Granger, 31, will have the opportunity to learn in training camp as hasn't had any setbacks from injury before he was traded last February. But the question is: how far away or off is the Danny Granger who was a leading scorer and the Danny Granger whom the Heat now have?
It's a mystery really, but one has to imagine what type of player Granger can again make himself into. Granger has never been an efficient scorer, never once shooting 47% or higher for a season, and mostly shooting in the low 40% range. He is a volume scorer and one that likes to take his own shots. Danny has had roughly one year to learn what it looks like to be a role player and come off the bench. Hopefully he is more comfortable with that now than before.
I think the truth is that he never really was accepting of letting his role go away in Indiana. Sure, the rise of Paul George helped make that mandatory, but giving up his starting spot to Lance Stephenson probably wasn't in Granger's plans. But now, at his age, and moving around a bit, Granger must be able to accept a new role.
And the Heat need him for a new role. Luol Deng, a great player, but nowhere near a LeBron James will need help. Granger has the potential to be a 8-10 PPG player off the bench for the Heat. I think the Heat are going to get a player that is motivated to still prove he belongs in this league. I also think coach Erik Spoelstra will be leading to a different tune this year. This group has the making to be a physical group.
We know the physical and chippy-ness that Granger is capable of, and we expect Josh McRoberts will continue in that way. This can no longer be a finesse team, they must work hard and physical to get the job done, and I think that plays into Granger's hands.
The bottom line is that the Heat, and us fans, shouldn't expect Granger to return to his All-Star form. Those days are past, and Granger got there by taking any shot he wanted as the leading scorer. What we should expect is a motivated player, and one with a variety of experience in the playoffs. Granger will have some really good games for the Heat, but he will also likely have plenty of duds. This is all a part of the process.
But, the reason he is on this roster is because he has the potential to be a very valuable part of this team. I wouldn't be surprised to see Granger get back to his old self and have some break out games. What Danny Granger are the Heat getting? The new one: the one with a defined role as a motivated veteran.