Basketball

Rising star Paul George willing to defer to returning Pacers teammate Danny Granger

InterAKTV/Justin Gener

InterAKTV/Justin Gener

A season ago, Danny Granger was the Indiana Pacers’ leading scorer and unquestioned first option. But after he suffered an injury to his left knee that forced him to miss all but five games in the season, they had to turn to other players to get contributions.

One of the players that shone brightest in Granger’s absence was third-year player Paul George, who established himself as a true star in the NBA.

George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the regular season and upped his totals to 19.2, 7.4 and 5.1 in the playoffs. He was named Most Improved Player and made the All-NBA Third Team.

Now healthy, Granger is set to return, though, and admitted that he doesn’t expect his role to change on his return.

“I’ll play the role I’ve always played for the Pacers. For nine years, I scored the ball. That’s what I do,” he said in a practice session Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

That could leave the emerging George, who like Granger plays on the wing, as the guy to have to sacrifice some of his touches for the good of the team.

George said he’s perfectly fine with that, though.

“Yeah, I’m not coming into this year with the agenda of getting X amount of shots or touches,” George said.

“I’m gonna do what this team needs me to do to win games and get to where we want to get to.”

He added that Granger’s return will not put a strain on the chemistry that Pacers had last year and that he’s happy to have his high-scoring teammate back on the floor.

“It’s always been great with Danny around. It’s good to have Danny back because he helps everyone out. Having him on the floor spaces everything and gives everyone the ability to make plays. So it’s good to have Danny back,” he said.

“He’s been an All-Star. He’s a 20-points-a-night type of guy. He can handle his own on defense. Having him back is huge for us.”

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