A Banner Day In A Busy Summer For Granger
So much for summer vacation.
After running a week-long camp in Albuquerque, N.M., Danny Granger traveled to Las Vegas for a week of training with the candidates for USA Basketball's national team. He survived the first cut, then headed back to Indianapolis to conduct the local version of his youth camp.
And then came Monday, which was something of a banner day for the Pacers forward.
He will be featured along with several other local icons in new banners that will hang from street poles throughout Indianapolis, the artwork for which was unveiled by Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. and the American Advertising Federation Indianapolis in a press conference today at the Emmis Building on Monument Circle.
After putting up his feet for a day or two, he'll travel to New York for another week of USA Basketball training and exhibition games, hoping to make the final cut to 12 for the World Basketball Championship, which runs from Aug. 28 through Sept. 12 in Istanbul, Turkey.
"I took one trip down to Cabo (San Lucas) right after the season ended and after that I got right back to training," Granger said. "I started a lot earlier than normal because of USA Basketball so it's been a long time. It's been fun, though"
Fierce competition for U.S. roster
With 15 players on the USA Basketball roster, three cuts must be made. The team is thin in the frontcourt and loaded with wings, so competition for Granger is fierce.
"It's one of those things where you have so much pride, you want to play for your country, you want to represent your country," he said. "So all of us are fighting for positions but whoever gets cut, we'll still wish the rest of the guys a lot of luck. It's very important to be playing with USA on your chest.
"I think I played well (in Las Vegas). It's a different game than the game we're accustomed to playing – different rules, different basketballs – so it takes awhile to get accustomed to it. We all went through a phase where we were trying to get acclimated to the rules but for the most part it was a good training camp. A lot of players played well and we'll see what happens in New York."
The U.S. team has exhibition games against France and Puerto Rico while in New York, before heading overseas for games against Lithuania and Spain (in Madrid) and Greece (in Athens).
As the World Championships approach, the training will intensify.
"We only practiced for three or four days (in Las Vegas) and then we had a scrimmage which was sort of an all-star game rather than an international game," Granger said. "So I think we'll really see what we have and what everyone can bring to the table when we get into the international competition and we'll have three or four scrimmages in New York."
If Granger makes the U.S. team, it will mean a full month that could include nine games in the World Championship as well as the five exhibitions – a heavy workload heading into training camp. He's not sure how much, or if, wear and tear will be an issue.
"It depends, because looking at the format of the World Championships, sometimes we play three games in three days, which we really haven't done in the NBA for a long time now," he said. "We'll have to really sit down when it's all said and done and see whether I need rest, whether I'm good, see how my body feels because it can take a toll on you."
Granger likes George, think more moves to come
The selection of Paul George with the No. 10 pick in the NBA Draft was greeted enthusiastically by Granger, who knew the Fresno State prospect through workouts in Los Angeles.
"I love Paul, I love his game," Granger said. "I've worked out with him and before we drafted him I gave Larry (Bird) and David (Morway) very high praise on him because I see what the kid's capable of."
Though George has drawn frequent comparisons to Granger the veteran believes the rookie will be an effective complement.
"We're very similar in size, although I think he's more of a two-three and I'm more of a three-four," Granger said. "With the offense Coach O'Brien runs our wing positions are interchangeable and we go small so I think he'll help us a lot."
Beyond the draft, the Pacers have yet to make a roster move but Granger said he thinks "there's still more to come."
"We have a lot of pieces right now that can help us get better as a team," he said. "It just depends on the approach Larry and David take with it and what they want to do with it. We have the pieces, so I think they're just waiting to see what happens."