When Danny Granger went down at the beginning of the season I wasn’t overly concerned. I was excited for the Pacers season and thought they had the inside track on the 2nd seed in the East. I attended the Pacers demolition of the Heat in Game 3 of their playoff series last season and the atmosphere in Indianapolis was incredible. I even bought a partial season ticket package this season. My thinking was that losing Granger for a period of time might even be good for the team in the long run. Paul George would have to step up and take more of the scoring load. Roy Hibbert would get his chance to prove he’s a max player as the focal point of the offense.
After 9 games, my assumptions could not have been more off base. Paul George has not become a guy that you can count on to get a basket. Roy Hibbert has just plain struggled – rebounding, scoring, and especially field goal % are all down from last year’s numbers. So far Roy is shooting 39% vs. almost 50% last year. The Pacers are 3-6, but it should probably be much worse. They barely scraped by the Wizards, Kings, and Raptors for their 3 wins and they’ve lost games against the Bobcats, Raptors, Bucks, and Love/Rubio-less Timberwolves.
Can this all be attributed to Granger’s absence? Maybe not, but consider these statistics from last season.
When the Pacers had their core 4 starters (Granger, George, David West, and Hibbert since Collison and George Hill switched places toward the end of the year) on the floor at the same time the Pacers were 260 points better than their opponents. That works out to just over 10 points per 48 minutes. However, with those same core guys on the floor without Granger the +/- was -18.
George, West, Hibbert & Granger George, West, Hibbert on Court without Granger
If we look at Roy Hibbert and Paul George specifically the +/- numbers drop significantly with Danny Granger off the court. Overall last year Roy Hibbert had a net +/- of +226. Paul George was +253. Look at their numbers without Granger on the floor though:
Hibbert on Court without Granger George on Court without Granger
In short, the Pacers were not a good team last season when Granger was not on the court so it was foolish to think guys like Hibbert and George would be able to turn that trend around so quickly. There’s still a lot of the season left so I’m hoping Coach Vogel can right the ship and figure how to get his guys to play better.