At long last, the Indiana Pacers are about to have their star back. In Saturday night's game against the Detroit Pistons, forward Danny Granger will make his season debut (h/t Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star).
Mike Wells @MikeWellsNFL
Danny Granger will make his season debut tonight in Detroit, according to a source.2/23/2013, 4:16:37 PM
Granger has yet to play this season due to knee surgery, and his return to the lineup could inject even more life into the feisty Pacers.
Granger's return is not absolutely necessary for Indiana in the regular season, especially against Detroit. In his absence, Paul George has done an excellent job of stepping up his effort and has become a bona fide star.
On the season, George is averaging 17.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to go with 1.8 steals. He has also shot a highly respectable 39.2 percent from three-point range. His performance earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference's roster for this year's All-Star Game.
Additionally, David West, George Hill and Lance Stephenson, among others, have had very strong seasons. West has been one of the best power forwards in the league.
As great as George and Co. have been, however, the No. 2-seeded Pacers could really use Granger back for the playoffs. The team ranks first in points allowed and rebounding but is just 24th in scoring.
If the team wants to keep up with the big boys in the playoffs, more offense will be needed.
The former New Mexico Lobo has averaged 18.2 points per game for his career and has shot 38 percent from downtown. So just how much he'll be able to help his team as he eases back into the rotation is clear.
Once he has his legs back and is a force on offense, Indiana will have an even greater chance of emerging from the Eastern Conference.