Top 50: Danny Granger, no. 40

by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford

Despite being one of the better players at his position in the NBA, Danny Ganger has always been someone who few people outside central Indiana have paid much attention to. And in this relative obscurity, he’s been able to carve out a nice career for himself while gaining the respect of his peers in the process.

But if no one really cared about Granger before, that all changed when the Pacers took on the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs last year. The matchup paired him against LeBron James who, at the time, had a somewhat dubious reputation for flaming out in the postseason and having a “weak” mentality.

Like any competitor, Granger tried to take advantage of this perceived weakness, but in the process, he became the most hated player in the NBA for 11 days last May. Although he hails from New Orleans, he’s never been known around the League for being a “tough guy.” Granger pretty much tried to punk LeBron in the series by getting physical with him and almost seemed to be trying to start a fight with the “King” who called his antics “stupid.”

And looking back… They were.

Instead of just going out there and playing his game, Granger shot just 29-77 from the field (38 percent) as he averaged 13.3 points per game. LeBron, on the other hand, averaged 30 per and outscored the Pacers star by 100 points in the six-game series.

After the Heat dispatched the Pacers, there were whispers that Granger had so badly regressed, he shouldn’t even be considered as the Pacers best player anymore. That title went to either Roy Hibbert or up-and-coming small forward, Paul George. This, of course, all depended on who you asked or which story you happened to read on the web that particular day.

Statistically speaking, those who held that opinion had a valid point as the Pacers ‘11-12 campaign was not Granger’s best.

He still led the Pacers in scoring at 18.7 points per game, but his .416 shooting percentage from the field was the worst of his seven-year career. And if you go back to the ‘08-09 season where he averaged 25.8 points per and was named an All-Star for the first time, his scoring average has dropped a full seven points since then.

But he’s fallen even further on SLAMonline’s Top 50, where he was ranked 24th in 2011 and 21st in 2010.

Truth be told, Danny Granger is still a very good player in the NBA, and maybe even still top five at his position. But it’s clear he’s no longer the same player as before. And without a strong campaign this season, he could actually find himself completely off this list by the time the 2013 version rolls around.

[poll id=”446″]

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.