MANILA, Philippines -- The Indiana Pacers eagerly welcomed back veteran forward Danny Granger after he missed all but five games last season due to a knee injury.
Granger made his return to action in the Pacers' preseason game against the Chicago Bulls last week and is expected to be featured in their game tonight against the Houston Rockets in Manila.
Speaking to local reporters days before the historic preseason game, Pacers stars David West and Paul George said the return of Granger is a huge boost to the team that is aiming to go all the way this year.
"He's gonna help us. He's a pro," said West. "He's a guy that you know can win games for you by himself. Obviously with him back in the fold, in terms of our group, he makes us that much stronger."
"It's good to have Danny back before he helps everyone out," said George. "You know, having him on the floor spaces everything and gives everyone ability to make plays. He's been an All-Star, he's a 20-points a night type of guy, he can handle his own on defense. So having him back is huge for us."
George, who burst into the scene last year as one of the most explosive rising stars in the NBA, said he will have no problem sharing the floor with Granger.
"I'm not coming into this year with any agenda of getting X amount of shots or touches," he said. "I'm gonna do whatever this team needs me to do to win games and get to where we want to get to."
George also pointed out that he and Granger will likely have different roles with the team.
"Danny is much more of a scorer. He's just a straight flat-out scorer. I'm much more of a facilitator, getting guys looks. When it comes for me to be aggressive, I'll be aggressive offensively, but I'm much more of a facilitator. Danny's much more of a scorer," George said.
Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said that while Granger was "good" in his first game back, the former All-Star was "a little out of sync as well."
"The month of October is what we look at as the final step in his recovery," Vogel said. "Game conditioning, game timing and the winning habits, he's gotta re-establish that in his game, and he took steps towards that."
Granger was the league's Most Improved Player in the 2009 season, when he scored 25.7 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds and posted a Player Efficiency Rating of 21.8.
After only playing five games last season, Granger is back and is preparing himself for the "grind" of an 82-game campaign.
"The season is a grind. Eighty-two games, we play back-to-back games, we travel to different timezones. We get in at 2 a.m. and play that night. Your body hurts and you gotta get your rest, you gotta get your sleep," said Granger.
"So you have to prepare your mind to put yourself through all that. As hard as it is physically, it's equally hard mentally. So you just prepare the right way, eat the right food, get as much sleep as possible, then go out and play basketball," he added.