Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger finished the regular season in strong fashion after his customary slow start following the lockout.
Without a full training camp and preseason schedule, Granger spent the first month of the season searching for his shot and at times it appeared he may never hit another three-pointer. But his shot from behind the arc came around and more importantly, so did the other parts of his offensive game.
If you've paid close attention, you can see Granger is no long just a guy how shoots perimeter shot or puts his head down and drives to the bucket hoping to draw a foul. Instead he's revealed what I like to call more of an "old man" game with ways to score on his defender when he doesn't have a physical size or quickness advantage.
Now you'll see him in the post, looking patient and utilizing a little one-handed runner or fade away shot that has become almost automatic. While he can still rise up and knock down the three-pointer, developing that "old man" game has been a point of emphasis for Granger to ensure his longevity as a scorer in the NBA.
"I want to play for a long time, so as a player I have to find ways to get easy buckets with post-ups or fade-aways," Granger said recently. "So it has been a plan, something I've worked on over the past couple of summers and I've gotten pretty good at it and I'm getting better too."
The process of refining his new style of play is continual for Granger at this point knowing the longer he plays the less he can rely on his hops and quickness against athletic wing players who can match him physically.
"I know my game and when I do my workouts in the offseason I know what I need to work on, what works and what doesn't," Granger said. "I never want to rely only on the fact that I'm quicker than someone or jump higher than them or even stronger, I want to rely on my skill set against anyone."
The additional offensive arsenal has shown up with the variety of shots he's used around the bucket this season. With the addition of David West and the development of Roy Hibbert and Paul George, Granger doesn't draw as much defensive attention as he used to, but when he does he is far more comfortable in a crowd around the hoop or when closely defended in the post.
"I'm not comfortable because I can jump higher than anyone," Granger explained. "Instead it's head fakes, up-and-unders and fade always or use a shoulder to get some more space and get the shot off. I've been working on that game constantly."
The Pacers are often touted as a great team with no stars, boasting Roy Hibbert as the only All-Star, but there is no doubt, had the All-Star team been picked at the end of the season, Granger would've merited a spot on the roster. That lack of recognition doesn't seem to bother Granger since he know that if the Pacers continue knocking off team goals, people who know basketball will take note.
"People haven't seen us a lot, so they don't know," Granger said of his team's play. "They'll figure it out. We're going to get more recognition when people see us in the playoffs."
The results for Granger, finishing the last month of the season as a key 22-point per game scorer on one of the hottest teams in the NBA, make all of the work he's put into his game and the team quite satisfying. He's changed his game and it works with more room to grow and improve, which should keep him producing in the NBA for many more years to come.