The Indiana Pacers continue to see positive signs from Danny Granger as he works himself back into shape to return to the court from a left knee injury that has kept him sidelined all season.
Granger has been practicing with the team recently in non-contact drills, but that changed on Thursday when the forward was cleared for contact and took part in half-court offensive work for 20 minutes.
Prior to Indiana's win over Miami on Friday, coach Frank Vogel continued to express his optimism for Granger's return prior to the All-Star break in two weeks. Vogel looks forward to Granger's return but plans to ease him back into action.
Vogel did not give a specific target date for Granger's return but acknowledged he'd like Granger to "get his feet wet" before the All-Star game Feb. 17 so they can start working him into the lineup. Vogel says Granger is in good physical shape but not game shape.
Vogel also said that Granger was a little sore the day after his contact work, but nothing out of the ordinary. Granger has averaged 18 points per game over his career, which should help bolster the Pacers ailing offensive attack down the stretch. While leaning on a league-leading defense to compile a 28-19 record, the Pacers remain ranked 28th in the league in offensive efficiency with 99.2 points per 100 possessions.
Granger will find a different team than the one he left at the end of last season. The emergence of Paul George and Lance Stephenson as playmakers should take pressure off of Granger to be a volume scorer. While Granger is a solid spot-up shooter and can score off of the bounce, he has struggled to create shots for himself in the past as the focal point of opposing defenses. With more offensive options for team's to account for, Granger should find his share of shots to help improve Indiana's ability to score.