A Daily Babble Production
Over the last few weeks, we've seen several young players ink long-term extensions with their prior teams. Josh Smith will stay in Atlanta, Emeka Okafor in Charlotte, and at the rate of $80 million over six years, Andre Iguodala will remain in the fold in Philadelphia.
Next up could well be Indiana's Danny Granger. The Pacers have until October to agree on an extension with Granger, or he will hit restricted free agency a summer from now. Which means, of course, plenty of banter over how much Granger is worth.
Earlier this week, the Indianapolis Star's Mike Wells added some direction to that discussion by referencing a conversation with a league official who put Granger in Iguodala's class.
Wells also points out that the two players' stats this past season were remarkably similar, so now he's got us thinking. But the belief here is that due to the differences both between the players and the situations of their current employers, giving Granger an equivalent payday to that of Iggy likely isn't the way to go for the Pacers at the present time.
The point Wells makes about the closeness of statistical production is certainly true. Iggy went for 19.9 points, 5.4 boards, 4.8 assists and 45.6 percent shooting last season, while Granger was 19.6-6.1-2.1-44.6. Three points jump out here: Granger is the much better outside shooter, going for better than 40 percent from deep (true shooting of 57.1 percent) while Iguodala hit less than 33 percent of his threes (true shooting of 54.3 percent). Iguodala does a lot more as far as assists are concerned, and from their styles of play, the differing assist numbers are in fact an accurate reflection of Iggy being a better distributor. Finally, the Pacers were third in pace last year compared to nineteenth for the Sixers, which indicates that Granger's total stats could be at least a bit inflated from playing in Jim O'Brien's up-and-down system.
While Granger is principally a jump shooter from mid-range and the outside, Iguodala fits more into the slasher mold. He is super-athletic, has the quick first step to get into the lane, finishes well in transition and is more explosive around the basket. While both players are unselfish and hard-working, Iguodala's penetrating style and passing vision allow him to play an important role as a secondary facilitator to Andre Miller. He dishes well and really helps to open up looks for his teammates. Granger no doubt helps stretch the floor for the Pacers, but he doesn't do quite the same job drawing multiple defenders and distributing.
On the defensive end, Iguodala is fast establishing himself as one of the top perimeter stoppers in the game. At 6-foot-6 and 207 pounds, Iguodala has both length and quickness on his side in addition to his tenacity, which is a major asset at that end of the floor in particular. He is not only coming into his own as an offensive player but also the guy to guard top opposing swingmen on a nightly basis. The 6-foot-8, 225 pound Granger is better suited to the three and four but a good defender in his own right. He doesn't have quite the quickness or explosiveness that AI2 does though, and at this point, Iguodala likely gets the nod defensively.
Finally, the differing situations of the the two teams come into play. It's worth noting that the timing worked out perfectly for the Iguodala signing in Philadelphia principally because the Sixers had already established their long-term direction earlier in the summer. Elton Brand is going to be the man for the foreseeable future, and with that squared away, Philly could spend what it needed on Andre Iguodala to complement him as a well-fitting second banana along with Andre Miller. Having the star in place would seem to make picking a long-term direction and deciding how much to commit to certain players significantly easier.
On the other hand, the Pacers have no such luxury. They are a team in flux right now. The Jermaine O'Neal era is finally over, and Jamaal Tinsley is on his way out the door. T.J. Ford, Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert are new in town, and Granger and Mike Dunleavy are the incumbent high scorers. The problem here is that we're talking about two rookie commodities and three players who certainly haven't indicated that they are championship-type number one guys. While Granger has improved markedly in each of his first three seasons, the book on him coming out of college was that he was going to be a solid-but-not-spectacular type of player, as of right now, that description fits him fairly well. It seems likely that this guy is going to be an excellent second option throughout much if not all of his career, and this brings up the question of who the star is going to be in Indiana moving forward. Until the Pacers can figure that out - and then how they want to build around said star - it might not be the best idea to be locking up supporting cast players long term at money that is all that high.
Danny Granger is undoubtedly one of the NBA's most promising youngsters at this point. But Andre Iguodala has plenty of promise of his own, a better team and more passing skills. Meanwhile, the Pacers' future remains a major question mark, and between that and Iguodala's wider skill set, holding off on offering Iggy money to Danny Granger might be the best course of action for the Pacers.