Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 12:10 pm  |  60 responses

Top 50: Danny Granger, no. 24

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Jon Jaques / @JJaques25

The value of an NBA superstar is essentially determined by one of two factors: fantasy yield (I.e. pure, raw stats) and that player’s team’s success. Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger’s rank on SLAMonline’s definitive Top 50 list seems to be the result of reconciliation between those two qualifications.

On one hand we have Granger, the former fantasy powerhouse. Coming off a 20.5-point, 5.4 rebound, 2.6 assist, 1.1 steal ‘10-11 season, the six-year veteran is still one of the more reliable talents in the Association. But when that aforementioned line is considered a disappointment (and it generally was), you quickly get a sense of the elite territory Granger was hooping in just a few seasons ago.

The meteoric rise of the former New Mexico Lobo during his first four seasons had to surprise even the most optimistic Hoosier. Unless Larry Bird’s status as NBA legend is exceeded only by his clairvoyance as a decision-maker, Granger has already exceeded career expectations (I think a very, very optimistic projection of Granger coming out of college would be a broke man’s Scottie Pippen—a rangy athlete capable of wreaking havoc on defense and being an ideal second-fiddle on offense).

Of course, we all know Granger shattered that ceiling in his bewildering ‘08-09 campaign. Coming off an outstanding junior NBA season in which he finally became a full-time starter with the Pacers, Granger erupted for a pre-“Durantula,” Kevin Durant-esque season. Though he missed 15 games due to injury, Granger’s point-per-game average mushroomed from 19.6 to 26, his shot attempts increased from 15 to 19 per night while maintaining a 44 percent field goal percentage, and his three-point percentage stayed above 40 percent while hoisting up more than a shot and a half more from beyond the arc.

In addition to that eye-catching efficiency, Granger’s assists and blocks both spiked. His five rebounds per contest were actually a drop from the previous season, but it’s safe to infer that he lost more than a handful of offensive rebounds by roaming the perimeter and shooting more than he had in his scrappier, paint-happy past. Bottom line? Granger was easily one of the NBA’s top-10 players production-wise heading into the summer of 2009.

As wonderful as that breakout season was for Granger, it set the bar extraordinarily high—probably too high. The Indiana Pacers in ‘08-09 were the definition of mediocrity. The team finished 36-46. Grangers’ supporting cast included a very Indiana-like team: Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, TJ Ford, and a baby (not minus the baby-fat) Roy Hibbert.

In other words, it’s remarkable Granger didn’t average 30 a game playing with this crew. He had to hoist up voluminous shot totals just to keep his team in most games. There was no other option.

As young teams tend to do, though, the Pacers improved. Certainly not in terms of the win-loss record (Indiana stumbled to a 32-50 record in ’09-10 and finished at 37-45 last season, amazingly good enough for the Eastern Conference’s 8-seed), but with each successive season following Granger’s monster output, the Pacers have augmented the talent around its star and seen his numbers dip simultaneously.

Mike Dunleavy is still Mike Dunleavy. Unfortunately for the Pacers and whoever signed him to his long-term deal, Jeff Foster will always be Jeff Foster. But with a blossoming back-to-the-basket threat in Roy Hibbert, a point guard who can actually score some points in Darren Collison, and reliable players like Brandon Rush, Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George who consistently provide some sort of production, of course Granger’s offensive numbers dropped. Frankly, it would be strange if they didn’t since the media is always quick to jump down the throat of a superstar (Kobe?) that fails to properly defer to capable teammates.

The standings indicate that Granger sacrificed shots and points while roughly maintaining his career averages in rebounds, assists and steals to get this team to the Playoffs (even if it is with a sub-.500 mark). That should count for something.

With George Hill arriving from San Antonio, expect Granger to delegate even more of the load this upcoming season. Even if Granger’s statistical “decline” continues, a cursory look at Granger’s output won’t do justice to his value: a legitimate Top-25 NBA superstar.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12
36 Eric Gordon Clippers SG 7
35 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
34 Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 6
33 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 11
32 Al Horford Hawks C 2
31 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 9
30 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 10
29 Josh Smith Hawks PF 9
28 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 5
27 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 8
26 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 6
25 John Wall Wizards PG 7
24 Danny Granger Pacers SF 5

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Hell no.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow


  • http://hoopism.com airs

    i’m not buyin it either.
    nope. not a top 25 player.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Or maybe he got so many shots up because Jim O’brien was basically running Don Nelson’s offense out of Indiana for the last few years. I called this vastly overrated selection. No surprise at all

  • http://nba.com GP23

    At the moment, Luol Deng is still better than all these Small Forwards ahead of him on here….

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Granger is good, let’s get that straight. He could be a huge contributor on a championship team. But I’d put him at about 32 or so on this list. Nothing wrong with that.

  • AirForceONE

    OMG! Not even close on this one. Loul Deng, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, at SF that are better than Granger. Eric Gordon, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Manu Ginobili are guards that are better than Granger. These rankings are fun, but you guys at SLAM are way off! Granger isn’t even a top 40 player. In my opion he should be ranked in the Kevin Martin to Gerald Wallace range.


    Granger is better than good. Between good and great. Like a jo johnson type of player. Why are so many people down on this cat?

  • marc

    Yea the way you guys are talking is making him seem like he’s trash. lol. But maybe a lil too high. You honestly think deng is better then granger though?

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    What can Granger do better than Deng that doesn’t involve scoring?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Because he’s not between good and great. He’s just good. Not top 25 players in the league good, but good. He’s a top 25 scorer, but its basically due to a heavy volume of shots. He just scored the least he has scored per minute in 3 years, at a lower % then he has shot ever in his career. His individual defense is very suspect. He can’t create a good shot off the dribble consistently. He’s about 8 spots high compared to the rest of the list. idk if he’d be top 35 if I did a top 50, somewhere right around there.

  • chingy

    “Superstar” and “Danny Granger” should not be in the same sentence…unless there’s a “not” in there somewhere…

  • http://www.2ksports.com Showtime

    E~tu.. which is agreed not better than Rudy not better than wall or deng. He does shoot @ a good % Clip, Ill say he top 30 thou..No bueno

  • EJ

    Deng is better.

  • ctkennedy

    Loul Deng wouldnt do better at Danny Granger role as the franchise player for the Pacers …but if u put Danny Granger on the Bulls it gives a CLEARLY better second scoring option who can raise his output n the playoffs especially if the best defender is on Rose…Granger gets 24 a game with the WHOLE gameplan aimed to stop him …u put the second best defender on him like they do Deng hes getiin more than 16-17a game WITHOUT question


    oh god another bulls fan. time to go roll 1 peace

  • Nella

    Top 25 and ‘superstar’ should not go together. I feel like that’s name worthy of only the top 10, maybe top 15 at the most.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Even though I think RGay is the better player between the two, they both took the same amount of shots last season(16). In past seasons, DG was a high volume scorer but last season, his shot attempts dropped which led to his PPG to also drop.
    Switch DG with Gay and I guarantee Ind will be a better team.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    @JTaylor – I agree, Gay would give Indy more than Granger does.
    And MUBWAR once again proving he’s nothing more than a Bulls hater.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Deng is a much much much better individual defender then Granger. Granger maybe a better help defender, but Chicago would lose a lot of its perimeter defense if it switched Deng for Granger. Their offense would improve, but at what cost to the defense.

  • chingy

    I do think the Bulls would be a better team with DG instead of Deng. I love Deng, I think he’s a great complementary player but there’s no denying what DG will do for the Bull’s offense. They have enough guys on D to still be effective. What they need is a guy who can take pressure of DRose so he doesn’t get worn out by constant double/triple teams. DG can spread the floor with his range and create his own shots against second tier defensive players. I think the Bulls will take this trade straight up in a heartbeat. Although DG doens’t have his face on some currency…….that has to count for something right?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    If I were in the bulls front office, I would strongly consider it, the offense would definitely be better and the defense would probably take a dip but they might be able to put ronnie brewer who is a good defender in the starting line-up to make up for granger lack of D.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    The Bulls wouldn’t be a better team with Granger.
    Besides the defense suffering, believe me, chemistry would suffer as well.
    Deng is the longest tenured, and among teammates, most respected Bull.
    I mean, even Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah look up to dude, so it’s no BS when people say he is the glue of the team.
    And besides, for all this talk about how Granger would improve the Bulls’ offense, on a team with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer I don’t see Granger scoring more than 17 per anyways.
    Y’all know how many points per game Deng averaged last year?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I didn’t know DG would draw this much hate!

  • Brahsef

    DG is def a better player than Deng. Deng could never be the #1 option on a squad, ever. That alone to me means DG is a better player than Deng. He can create on his own and hes a 20+ ppg player. That is much more valuable than a 3rd option on offense than can play good defense. I would def put Rudy Gay above DG though. Honestly they have a similar game but Rudy Gay’s athleticism allows him to do things DG just cannot.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Dang, y’all have Joe Johnson ranked REALLY high.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Except Deng HAS been the number one option on a squad, and took that squad farther than Granger ever has, sweeping the defending champs in the process.
    Y’all musta forgot.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    granger should be lower… gay and deny are both better. that said danny granger is still good tho

  • chingy

    Enig, you musta forgotten all the BG heroics.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    enigmatic stop it, bulls fans always over value good not great players, shipping luol will not mean the end the bulls. @chingy is right as well, Bg was always the first option with the bulls.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Convenient amnesia, chingy.
    His heroics were more on display during that Boston series.
    Different postseason.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Really, Slick?
    I never called Deng a great player.
    I just said he’s better than Granger, who’s also not a great player.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    But y’all go ahead and keep thinking Granger’s the truth.
    Dude’s teams have never even above .500

  • jarrett

    Rudy Gay is better than Granger… possibly at every aspect of the game

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Nobody said granger was the truth, but you cant rule out the possibility of his acquisition being an upgrade. Deng maybe better but it isnt that much of a difference to me, they both have big weaknesses. Im sure the offense would be better, but the question would be if it was good enough to make up for some of the defense luol contributed.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Fair enough, Slick.
    It’s not like we’re debating a possible Luol Deng for Kobe Bryant trade.
    I mean, surely John Paxson wouldn’t be stupid enough to hold back on pulling the trigger on that trade, right?
    Oh wait…damnit…. :(

  • https://plus.google.com/photos/106403650426394352312/albums/posts davidR

    i dunno. granger had a down season last year with o’brien. i’m guessing he’s going to play a lot better with the frank vogel, and with collison finally playing the way he should. that pacer squad played the bulls extremely hard in the playoffs.
    still, #24 is pretty high.
    is monta really make the top 20?

  • https://plus.google.com/photos/106403650426394352312/albums/posts davidR

    *is monta really going to make the top 20

  • http://360special.blogspot.com/ dev0

    I thought this was high on the list but it’s about right. Hard to believe he was borderline top-20 for the past two years as well… just shows how anonymous the Pacers are right now; just so middle-of-the-pack

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Granger is good, but not better than Kevin Martin (who actually plays a very similar game) and after next season, not better than John Wall.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Both Martin and Granger (last season at least) get buckets with relatively few shot attempts per game. Both shoot a not-so-impressive % from the field but more than make up for it by said shot attempts, as well as their ability to get to the line. Both rely heavily on the jumpshot (though Martin is an underrated finisher) and both shoot a pretty good percentage from 3.
    That being said, Martin is better at getting to the line (3 more attempts per game) and shoots his FTs with better accuracy. He’s also top 10 in scoring. Granger will give you 5 boards a game, but for a forward, that’s not THAT rare.
    On defense–which is the main argument against Martin–Granger isn’t exactly a stud either. And team-wise, the Rockets won six more games than the Pacers and actually had a record above .500, in a loaded Western Conference and a loaded division.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    He should switch places with Rudy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com house

    D.G. isn’t a great defensive player and Deng is. You take him out and Bulls get weaker defensively. Overall Deng offers much more to the Bulls than a player like D.G. can. Hell the Bulls already have a major wet blanket in their front line by the name of Boozer. Anyways D.G’s rating is too high imo. I would rate Rudy Gay and Tyreke above him but that’s just my two cents.

  • Morgan

    Wrong…sorry SLAM but from now on I’m going to slide over to the NBA rank on ESPN – your list is getting that bad.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    He’s this much better than Bogut?!

  • RobbieJay

    i have a question, where the HELL is E-Boy? But anyways, granger shouldnt be this high. i hate the bulls but deng is so much better ALL AROUND, not just scoring. even a blind man could see that

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • T-Money

    deng is overrated. he’s really nice but also limited. the bulls could have used granger vs miami when d-rose was double teamed past half court! and deng is nice on d in the sense that he makes people work hard for their points but he doesn’t exactly throw a blanket on cats like a tony allen or ron ron back in the day. pierce and bron always gets theirs on deng – he just makes it tough.

  • http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2011/10/4/2468098/nba-lockout-2011-owners-david-stern-robert-sarver-the-hook Allenp

    A Deng for Granger swap is intriguing.
    Deng helps provide the defensive intensity the Bulls need, but I could see Granger’s scoring becoming way more efficient if he had Rose and Boozer as the top two options. I think he’s had a high usage recently, but he can still be effective with fewer touches.
    But, if you add Granger, you shift the dynamic from one horrid defender (Boozer) and one average defender (Rose) alongside three very good defenders (Noah, Bogans, Deng) to a ratio of three bad defenders to two good defenders. Whenever the ratio swings that far you have problems.
    I’ve never seen an elite defensive team with three bad defenders in the starting lineup. It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely. And would Granger’s scoring make it possible for the Bulls to win without being elite defensively?

  • Irfan

    Not top 24. At all.
    For those who disagree a lot with SLAM ranking, take a look at EPSN’s. To me it’s better: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7066088/nba-player-rankings-41-45

  • Youngindy21

    Why are you people hating on Danny Granger? Has Luol Deng or any of the other SF’s mentioned ever had a season where they averaged almost 26ppg. Yeah I don’t think so. Has Luol Deng ever been to the All-Star game? Nope. People just hate on Danny Granger because they aren’t a fan of the Pacers. I personally am a fan of the sport of basketball so I give good players credit where credit is due. Danny Granger is a top 25 player. The only SF’s that are ahead of him in the league are Lebron, Durant, and Carmelo. And for the people arguing for Luol Deng, If Luol Deng was such a great defender than why did Danny Granger average 22ppg on the Bulls in the playoffs this year? Finally how many of the people before DG have to actually carry their team or are the Sole leader of their team. Yeah Exactly.

  • Clos1881

    Danny granger is not one of the 24 best players in the league. Did you guys account for that trashy playoff performance against the bulls he was trash in the world championships as well. He’s a volume shooter and that’s all I really see.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Yeah Luol Deng is definitely NOT a better player than Danny Granger. Deng had a great playoff series one year and has been a very good defensive player, but Bulls fans need to chill (sorry, E). Talk to me when he averages 3 assists per game or scores over 19, not even 20, a game. To be fair, Granger’s assist numbers are pretty sad too. But 20 and 5 will always be better than 17 and 6.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Unless Deng turns into the next Bruce Bowen or Dennis Rodman.

  • Sabir

    All i have to say is…. The stat sheets don’t lie

  • slyfoxx

    DG deserves is 24th!! Everybody is knocking his defense but on which team does the coach ask there best player to work hard of defense and carry the load on offense?? To say Deng is better than dg is crazy!!! What has he done or proven thus far from he came in the nba?? He needs to give back some that money because he hasn’t done anything since he signed it. And for some of you who get so quickly it was Ben Gordon carrying those bulls with his heroics when they played the defending champs. Sigh… Now that that’s done, Rudy Gay is alright. Looked at his numbers for the past few season and he has been running the show for the grizzle’s who now has a nice team. I notice that while he was the man on a horrible team he never averaged more than 20 points while granger has shot it up with averages of 20+ for the past few seasons. Also, he can go of for 30+ on any give night!DG is not as bad as you people are making it seem! Not to mention he is the first person in the nba to increase his scoring by 5+ points every season. Am just saying don’t make him out to be trash because he is a good player.kevin martin is always injured these days so his value has dropped a bit. Tyreke has slowed down in Sac. I don’t see anyone on that list deserving that spot right now.

  • Youngindy21

    First of all I know a lot of you are just talking out of your *ss when it comes to Danny Granger because How many Pacer games are actually Nationally-televised except for their playoff games? You can’t completely measure how good a player is by his Stat Line. And for the People saying Danny Granger is a volume shooter. DUHHHHH. He is the leader of his team so of course he is going to take the most shots. D-Rose is a volume shooter but you don’t see people knocking him for it either. The only players that can be argued to be better than DG on the list are Eric Gordon and Al Horford. And Finally people point out that DG’s numbers fell last season BUT he was still 12th in the League in scoring and part of that was Due to the Pacers having more Scoring options then they did in the Past like Hansbrough, Collison, and Hibbert.

  • http://forums.skcentral.com Jared Jammer

    The debate between Granger and Deng ended in the playoffs, where Granger abused Deng and Chicago’s so-called “elite” defense.

    As for Rudy Gay, prior to this season it wasn’t close: Granger was easily better for every single concurrent season of their careers (’05-’07 to 09-’10). Granger did regress somewhat, and Gay picked up his game and is no longer completely one-dimensional, so it became close. The reason I side with Danny is that he lead his team to the playoffs and actually raised his play while facing the league’s top defense, Chicago. On the other hand, perennial loser Rudy Gay went down and yet Memphis kept right on chugging along.

    John Wall? He should pass Danny up soon, possibly this upcoming season, however he’s not there yet. Way too many turnovers (3.8… wow!), lousy offensive efficiency, and poor defense. “Leading” your team to 23-wins speaks for itself.

  • MCD

    IF Granger was the star they say he is his (my) team might just be doing better as a team. That’s what truly makes superstars. You never saw people screaming for the Bulls before Jordan and Pipen but when they did get there they strived to make the whole team good. They didn’t just work on how to be more of a ball hog. With alot of his teamates stepping up (Roy hibbert included who has slimed down and worked on his already excellent hook shot and defensive strategy) he needs to work with the pack and stop working against it.

  • Shadag

    how is deng better than granger? didn’t you see bulls-pacers series? granger totally outplayed him