The Danny Granger question is one that will hang over the Indiana Pacers to start the season.
Indiana was within one game of the NBA Finals last season with Granger in street clothes (he played just five games all season after a knee injury, his second in two years). Granger was an All-Star and the team’s leading scorer, but now everyone wants to see if he can blend his game in with the emerging leaders Paul George and Roy Hibbert.
To answer that question, first he has to get back on the court. Some preseason games could help with that transition, and in a wide-ranging Q&A with Dime Magazine Granger says he will be ready for some of those games (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
Dime: Are you restricted at all in the stuff you can do, or are you full-on right now?
DG: I’m still in the middle of my rehab. I’m in a six month rehab; I won’t be six months out until October 5th…so I’m progressing to playing — I’m playing now, but I’m progressing on schedule and I’m still in the midst of my rehab.
Dime: Do you think that October 5th date is within reach, and you’ll be able to play in the preseason to get back into the flow?
DG: Yeah. I anticipate playing in the preseason. I definitely do.
The return of Granger is one of the things that will make the Pacers better. I lean that he is going to be able to blend his game in with the other stars — he will score less per game than he used to, but he does give them a shot creator when the shot clock gets down to :05. He can start and Lance Stephenson — who was fantastic for Indiana last year — can come off the improved Pacers bench, or Granger can be a scoring spark sixth man. Either way works.
If the fit isn’t there? Granger is a $14 million expiring contract the Pacers can move for something that does fit. They don’t need him to be a dangerous playoff team.
But he would help.
LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.
This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:
Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.
LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”
Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.
There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.
Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.
LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.
Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.
Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.
The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.
Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.
During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.
We now know that’s not true.
According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.
Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.
Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.
Trust. The. Process.