Seriously, have you forgotten how good Granger is? He was a very deserved All-Star a couple years ago, he's led this team through some pretty lean years into respectability, and if you haven't noticed, he has some serious swagger that this team needs. Sure, David West is one tough dude you don't want to mess with, but he does it in a cool way. Granger is more in your face about it. Red oni vs. blue oni. And, you know, putting Granger back in the starting line up is going to create match-up nightmares for other teams. Paul George is playing small forward right now, and obviously those guys are having little-to-no success guarding him. And he's typically doing just fine on the defensive end. You make smaller two guards take him on? He's more than got the speed to deal with that, and will just plain outsize anybody else trying to guard him. And if they want to try to put somebody bigger on George, then you've got a smaller guy trying to deal with Granger, and that's just not going to work.
Now, are things going to click right away? Probably not. There will be a little bit of up and down as Granger tries to figure out exactly where he is and reintegrating him back into the offense, just as there was a learning curve with life without Granger. But, I think it will be much easier to put Granger back in than to take him out. George has already become a star in his own right. Granger has a bit of an ego, but I don't think it's so big he won't take a slightly smaller role if it means the team wins more.
Now, one thing I don't think he would do, nor would it be advisable to do, is to move him to the bench. I have heard callers make that suggestion. The only time I think you do that is when he very first comes back just for him to get a feel. Almost like having a guy spend a week in AAA or something in baseball. Just make sure he is truly back from that injury with the second unit. When he's fully healthy, there is no choice but to move him into the starting unit. And, as good as he's been playing, the guy who just plain makes the most sense to move is Lance Stephenson.
That is not a knock against Lance. He has already looked a thousand percent better than I thought he ever would at the NBA level. He clearly has the ability to start in this league. I just think George Hill is better and a better fit for the first unit. Stephenson is still a little streaky and young, which by my reckoning makes him the perfect spark plug to stick on a second unit that does sometimes struggle to score. But, he will stretch the floor,* which in turn will open things up for Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi inside. Those guys haven't played badly, but I think they will improve even more when teams have to respect the second unit's outside shot.
*Especially if Orlando Johnson can play at the two guard. He has turned out to be a real blessing out of nowhere. I'm sure UCSB don't think it's out of nowhere, but is to this part of the country. I just hope he can keep it up now that teams have film on him.
Back to Granger, though. The knock on the Pacers all year, at least until this recent burst of offense, is they couldn't score enough. Granger will give them the offense they need to be a serious championship contender if he comes back to anything resembling what he has been his whole career. There is just not another player available that will score like Granger can score and add to the team in the same way. It's just insane that so many people are in such a rush to let him go. Why? Because he led the team when there was precious little around him? Is that what tainted him so? Fans like that really need to appreciate that he really brought this franchise back to respectability. When the Pacers basically went dark on ESPN, it was Granger who was talked about in hushed tones around other NBA circles, like some book hidden in the dusty section of the library. Amazing to take in, if you could only find it.
This team has me even more excited by last year's team, even with the offensive struggles of Roy Hibbert. Granger is only going to add to that. Appreciate what you have, Pacer fans. Not everybody has to build their team and win championships by flauting their money at free agents and flashy trades. Sometimes, the draft works just fine. Let this one play out. If you still don't trust that Larry Bird knew what he was doing putting this team together, or that Donny Walsh has a pretty good grasp on basketball, maybe you need to reevaluate what you know about basketball.