Looming Large: Danny Granger

In the 2005 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic had an opportunity to take a risky player with loads of potential in Fran Vazquez, or the solid but unspectacular player in Danny Granger.

The Magic gambled and took a chance on Vazquez, while Granger feel all the way to the 17th pick, where the Indiana Pacers selected him. Three years later, Vazquez hasn't played an NBA game, while Granger is emerging as one of the best overall talents in the NBA.

At 24 years-old, Granger wasn't supposed to be the "go to guy" for the Pacers in his third NBA season, but with injuries hindering the play of former all-star Jermaine O'Neal, Granger has taken on the new role and has thrived. Indiana is a long shot to make the playoffs and the team hasn't struck fear into the heart of opponents, but Granger is learning what it takes to lead a team.

On the season, Granger is averaging 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, a block and a steal per game. This line isn't overwhelming, but it shows that Granger is involved in every aspect of the game and can do whatever is asked of him.

The biggest knock on Granger coming out college was that at 6'9", 225 lbs., he didn't have the size for a power forward or the skill set of a small forward, and that was a large reason for his drop into the second half of the first round. However, Granger is using his unconventional blend of size and athleticism to cause mismatches for opponents.

On offense, Granger has the ability to do damage with his back to the basket in the post, or he can step outside and do damage on the perimeter. On the season, Granger is making two three-pointers a game, while shooting an impressive 39.5% from behind the arc.

After a slow month of December, in which he averaged just 13.9 points per game, Granger has elevated his game. In January he averaged over 20 points a game and in March he is putting up 21 points per. This new found consistency on offense has helped Granger establish himself as a very capable threat, and his wide array of moves make him a difficult assignment for most teams.

Defensively, Granger uses his long wingspan to clog passing lanes and keep players around the perimeter in check. He can be pushed around a little in the post, but Granger can usually hold his own. Granger has outstanding athleticism and can eventually become an elite defender.

Granger has played Orlando twice this year and had six points one night, but made the Magic regret overlooking him three years ago when he dropped 29 against them in February. He will likely guard Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu when the two teams face on Saturday night. Both usually take advantage of players with their size, but Granger won't give up an length to them and he should be able to shut one of them down. Orlando will need Dwight Howard to take up double-teams in the paint to help get Granger off of their perimeter players. On defense, Orlando needs to play loosely on Granger. He is capable of making wide open three-pointers, but whoever guards him should be more concerned with him taking it to the basket than him making a shot with a hand in his face. Granger still has some areas he is trying to improve on, but he has improved leaps and bounds so far and looks like he might be one of the best players to come from the 2005 draft class.