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Dr. Bruno Examines Granger By The Numbers

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

January 4, 2011

For the first four seasons of his career, Danny Granger was on a stunningly steep trajectory, rising from 7.5 points per game as a rookie to 25.8 in his fourth season.

The past couple of years, however, he has come back to Earth a bit.

His scoring average has dipped (to 21.1). His shooting percentage (.416) would be the lowest of his career. His 3-point percentage (.359) is the lowest since his rookie season.

What gives?

Frankly, it's a bit of a mystery. He's been healthier this year than either of the previous two, when he missed a total of 35 games. There have been no sea changes in on-court structure: same coach, same system (albeit some different teammates).

Let's discount the "he's tired from a summer of international competition" theory right away because, much to his chagrin, Granger didn't play enough for fatigue to be a factor. And he should've been over any residual jet lag long ago.

Looks like it's time for Dr. Bruno to don the statistical stethoscope and analyze this very important patient.

    The stat: The Pacers are 3-14 when Granger shoots less than 40 percent.
    What it means: To borrow a fantasy baseball term, .400 is Granger's Mendoza Line. When he's above it, the team has been very good (11-3). It's no surprise, conversely, the Pacers struggle when Granger shoots poorly. What jumps off the page, however, is Granger has been below his Mendoza Line in more than half the team's games.
    The solution: More attacking, less settling, seems to be in order. Remember that 8-of-12 game against the Wizards? Seven of his eight buckets were layups as he attacked the bucket with a passion. Of course, he also committed three offensive fouls in that game, limiting his minutes, but if he establishes a more aggressive mindset the occasional charge should be offset by more trips to the line.
    The stat: In wins, Granger averaged 24.5 points, shoots .496 overall and .495 from the 3-point line. In losses, Granger averages 18.4 points, shoots .350 overall and .226 from the 3-point line.
    What it means: As Granger goes, so go the Pacers.
    The solution: The evolution of a true No. 2 offensive threat is paramount, because every Batman needs a Robin. Early on, it looked as if Roy Hibbert would be the guy but not so much at the moment. Brandon Rush and Mike Dunleavy can pop the 20-plus games every once in a while but neither is consistent enough to alter opposing coaches' game plans. If Hibbert doesn't bounce back, the guy most capable of stepping into a much bigger role looks to be Darren Collison.

Understand, I am not a basketball doctor, but I play one on the Internet.

But I do know this much: in basketball, as in medicine, coming up the cure is usually a lot tougher than identifying the symptoms.