Many have wondered whether or not Dennis Schroder can be the starting point guard on a highly competitive team.
Despite currently leading the Hawks in Scoring (19.3 PPG) and Assists (6.4) the play of Dennis Schroder has left much to be desired with his play this year, especially on the defensive end. This among other things, have led many to question whether or not he can be our Point Guard to lead us out of this rebuild and into contention.
Scoring has never been an issue for Schroder. Often times he is able to get to the hoop with ease and is also a good mid range scorer. His averages of 19.3 PPG on 43% shooting look good at first glance.
As seen in the in the clip above, he can score and dish the ball in a variety of ways. At times this season, Dennis has been Atlanta’s only reliable scoring option.
Dennis is at his best when he has his 3 point shot working. That opens up the rest of his game by keeping defense uptight making it easier to drive.
His best stretch of basketball arguably came during the 2016-17 1st Round series against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. Dennis went toe to toe with John Wall over the course of the 6 game series and averaged an impressive 24.7 PPG on 45% Shooting and 43% from 3, as well as 7.7 Assists and only 1.7 Turnovers. As a whole, it was one of the best individually played playoff series in recent Hawk history.
This season however, Schroder is shooting a dismal 28% from three. When prorated to since December 1st that rate has dipped even further to 25%. With the strongest part of his game being his drive and midrange shots, it’s imperative that Dennis converts on a higher percentage of his three’s to keep the defense on him. Lately, teams have been able to sag off or even leave him open on three point shots. This in turn, makes the rest of his game harder because teams can pack the paint and have a better chance of stopping his drive. It does not look to be an injury issue as there was no reported injury other than his ankle until this past Wednesday when he hurt his shoulder vs the Hornets. At this point it could be more of a mental issue that one good game may be able to correct.
Each year since coming into in the league there has been multiple times when Dennis has found himself in trouble either with the team, league or even law enforcement.
Just a few games into his career, Dennis was suspended for a game by the NBA for wildly striking former Kings Center DeMarcus Cousins in the groin area. In my opinion, this really set back his rookie year as he found it hard to get back into the rotation after that pretty much all year.
Last season, he was suspended by the team for a game for being late reporting back to the club after the All Star Break from Germany. Apparently there was an issue with his Visa or Passport which required him to travel to the US Embassy.
Another notable benching came in what was shaping up to be the best game of Dennis Schroder’s career. After scoring 19 first quarter points against Steph and the Warriors, Dennis and former Hawk Dwight Howard had a disagreement in the middle of action leading to a wide open three by Steph. This caused Coach Bud to immediately pull Dennis for the rest of the game. The Hawks went on to lose.
The biggest of all blunders came on the eve of the preseason this season. After an offseason which saw the departures of Tim Hardaway JR, Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap it was clear that this was now Dennis’ team. On the morning of September 29th Schroder was involved in a bar fight. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going out to the club and partying but there is absolutely no excuse to be involved in an altercation of any sort. To make matters worse it is reported that Dennis’ camp were the ones who caused and escalated the incident. You never want to see the face of your franchise with a mugshot. A few days after the incident, GM Travis Schlenk issued the following statement. We could be looking at a 3-5 game suspension once the investigation wraps up.
Just this past Wednesday during a rough shooting night against the Hornets, Dennis got subbed out a bit earlier than usual in the 3rd quarter. He proceeded to mope towards the bench with his head draped all the way down and did not acknowledge Coach Bud or any of his teammates on the bench. This is not what you want to see from you best statistical player when things aren’t going right.
Despite all this, Dennis is still only 24 years old and is still learning and improving as a leader. While some of these issues have been concerning they are not anything too extreme for a player of his age. Hopefully as he ages further he will also mature. As the Hawks continue to rebuild, Hawks fans have to hope there will be some hardened vets on the team to further season him. In my opinion, the lack a veteran backup Point Guard over the past two seasons has held his development back.
Coming into the league it appeared that Dennis would be that pesky defender that would get under the skin of opponents. While he has gotten under the skin of many opponents, most notably John Wall and Isaiah Thomas, it hasn’t really been because of his defense.
As the years have progressed, it seems that Schroder’s defense has digressed. Via ESPN’s RPM metric, Dennis ranks 477th out of 479 NBA players in defense (ahead only of Emmanual Mudiay and Jamal Crawford). Obviously, this is horrible. It’s not an anomaly either. Dennis also ranks close to last in the NBA in NBA Math’s defensive metric.
Heading into games on February 2, here’s how all NBA players have fared in TPA throughout the 2017-18 season: pic.twitter.com/1mGjNk5C9J
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) February 2, 2018
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) February 1, 2018
As you can see, Schroder ranks last on the Hawks in Defensive Points Saved as well as close to last in the entire NBA.
Even by the eye test, it is clearly visible that Dennis gives little to no effort on the defensive end. Often times he does not close out on shooters or causally goes through screen and flat out just does not hustle. While some of this can be attributed to shouldering a heavy offensive load there is no excuse for not showing effort. This has clearly been a very frustrating issue for Coach Bud as it has led to several benchings of his starting Point Guard.
At least with the issue appearing to be effort rather than skill, there is still hope that he can become serviceable at least on that end of the floor.
What Does the Future Hold
Despite a few trade rumors floating around, it is believed that the Hawks see Dennis as the Point Guard for the future. Before the Bucks landed Eric Bledsoe, they were rumored to have had discussed trading Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon for Dennis. Not many teams in the league need a starting Point Guard which greatly affects his value. Coupled with him being in the 2nd year of a 4 Year/70 Million dollar deal, only teams with a need for a starter would be willing to take on that contract. Although there are rumors floating around, I do not see him getting traded by Thursday’s trade deadline.
Another hot topic of conversation among Hawks fans is shipping off Dennis in hopes of drafting Oklahoma stand out star Trae Young. While he is tearing up the NCAA this year, there is absolutely no guarantee that he will ever be better or even as good as Dennis Schroder is. Time and time again, we have seen college stars fizzle in the NBA. It is not worth the risk and could set the franchise back years in the rebuild if Trae did not pan out.
Despite some of the negatives and issues discussed, Schroder is a great young player who has played relatively well in what has been a very rough season for the Hawks all around. Fans tend to forget that he is only 24 years old and still has tons of room to grow. While I do not believe that he can be the best player on a championship team, I do think that he can and will be the Point Guard to lead us through this rebuild and back into contention.
Phil Veasley | @_ATLPhil
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