GRANGER CATCHING UP ON THE FLY WITH CLIPPERS
At 30 years old, former All-Star Danny Granger is playing catchup for the first time in his career.
A week into his tenure with the Clippers, Granger is learning on the fly. He’s picking up the nuances of a new offense and defense. He’s improving his physical fitness. He’s adjusting to playing somewhere other than Indianapolis, a place he spent the first eight-plus seasons of his NBA life. And he’s doing all of it on a team bound for the postseason in a little more than a month.
After scoring 14 points in 23 minutes on Monday against the Phoenix Suns, his second double-digit point total in four games with the Clippers, Granger was asked how he is handling such a major in-season adjustment.
“Just keep on building, that’s the goal,” he said. “Finding a rhythm. I’m understanding the way they play a lot more now, offensively and defensively. It’s a lot of fun.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he is still learning about Granger as well, including what he can provide on both ends of the floor, especially since the former Pacers star has played just 34 games in the past two seasons combined before arriving in Los Angeles.
“He’s just coming. He’s getting better and better,” Rivers said. “I thought [Monday] was his best defensive game for us, so you can see his feet are starting to move a little bit. He can shoot the ball, so that’s really helped. He can put the ball on the floor a little bit and that’s something I didn’t know. I didn’t know a lot about Danny, the new Danny. I remember the older Danny. He’s helping us.”
Granger showed flashes of the pre-knee injury or “old Danny" at times against the Suns, completing a difficult left-handed layup using a Euro-step to free himself from a defender in transition. He had a pair of assists that he created off the dribble and showed that he can be a threat 3-point range, going 2-for-6 with both makes coming in spot-up situations.
Still, there were times when he looked winded, a couple of shots he’d normally make that caromed short of the rim and couple of times in transition when he didn’t seem confident pushing the ball.
“[My conditioning]’s not there,” Granger said. “I didn’t play for a week and a half, so that will kind of set you back a little bit. But you’ve still got your basic conditioning, just got to get your wind back up; and I’m working on it, conditioning every day. Like I said, got some run in tonight, and I’ll get out and condition tomorrow.”
Once Granger is in optimal shape, there are still questions about where he will fit in, if the Clippers are at full strength. Some of those questions were answered Monday as well. With Jared Dudley sidelined for the third consecutive game with mid-back spasms, Granger was the first small forward off the bench behind starter Matt Barnes, who is averaging 16.8 points per game since Feb. 21. But Rivers also used Barnes and Granger together in the frontcourt in the second half.
“I’m thinking the way Doc runs his offense, the threes play the four, and the fours play the three,” Granger said when asked about whether he has a preference between forward spots. “So, it really doesn’t matter to me.”
What matters, at this point, is finding his way with the second unit and with his new team.
“It’s just a matter of working me into with what the team is trying to accomplish and making strides,” Granger said. “We just have to get a rhythm. Getting a rhythm is about just playing together more. You know, when we do all of this we’re building for that first Playoff game. That’s when we really want to be hitting on all of this and just hit the ground running.”