Danny Granger Says Indiana Pacers 'Really Are Title Contenders Now'

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2013

April 03, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) high fives center Roy Hibbert (55) late in the game against the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated New York 112-104. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Granger has been pretty mum about his own future, but he's gushing about the present of his Indiana Pacers.

Granger, who missed all but five games in 2012-13 while trying to solve a nagging knee injury, told Pacers.com's Scott Agness he's really impressed by the pieces the Pacers have added this summer.

"It's really encouraging," he said. "They kinda see the potential that this group has, and I think we're really going for it. We really are title contenders now, and we have to show it."

Indiana's offseason plan was to tighten up a second unit that was one of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finalist's few weaknesses. Pacers reserves averaged only 24.1 points, the second-fewest among bench mobs last season, via HoopsStats.com.

That need has since been addressed from all angles. Perimeter scorers Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson came over in free agency. Versatile forward Solomon Hill was added on draft night.

But the move that really impressed Granger was the team's trade for six-year veteran Luis Scola.

Scola averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Phoenix Suns last season. He appeared in all 82 games and started 67 of them.

Granger told Agness that he's shocked, but thrilled, that Scola won't be part of a starting lineup in 2013-14:

I think (Scola's) probably our biggest (offseason) pickup. In my mind, he's a starting power forward in the NBA and I don't know how we pulled him off and how we got him but we did. I think that's the brilliance of Donnie (Walsh) and Larry (Bird).

What Granger didn't address, though, was his health or his fit on this revamped roster. He told Agness only "I'm doing great," and said he needed "to make sure I'm playing" before finding his niche.

With Paul George's All-Star ascent, Lance Stephenson's steady play as a starter and the added depth to this team, Granger could be facing a minutes crunch unlike anything he's experienced since logging 22.8 of them as a rookie in 2005-06.

But if his assessment of this team's talent is correct, maybe he'll have a championship ring to show for his troubles.