Dennis Schröder’s sophomore campaign was most definitely a success. Though he played sparingly during his rookie season and made various D-League assignments, he was the most improved player on our roster in the 2014-15 season. Now headed into year 3, the 21-year old is finally coming into his own. It’s time for him to make the next step in his development. If the German point guard can make half the strides he did last season, than the sky is the limit. Schroder went from being the raw rookie who never plays to making the Rising Stars Challenge in just a season. That’s what makes him a prime candidate to win sixth man of the year. He’s still getting better, and he is in a situation that will make him shine.
First things first, if he received more minutes, Schröder could have made a serious case for the award last season. He only averaged 19.7 minutes per game, a clip I expect to increase this upcoming season When averaging his statistics from last season per 36 minutes, Schröder would have averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game. Sure, his numbers are a bit inflated since a lot of his minutes come against opposing teams’ second units, but this kid is still so young. He improved his 3-point percentage from 23% to 35% in his sophomore season, and is still learning how to score in this league. His jump shot is awkward looking, but he was effective as a jump shooter last season. His ability to get in the lane is something special, and if he can learn how to finish around the rim better there’s no telling how good he can be.
What really sets Schröder apart is that he is a natural point guard. There are a ton of athletic point guards in today’s game, but basketball IQ can be hard to teach. Yes, Schröder can be very erratic at times, but he knows how to run the offense. The Hawks’ second unit was always in sync last season when Teague needed rest. Schröder’s ability to get in the lane leaves jump shooters open, and his improved jump shot requires defenders to keep him honest from beyond the arc.
This is why I think Dennis is in for an expanded role in the upcoming season. His ability to control the offense makes him a prime candidate for more minutes. Last season, Mike Budenholzer would put Schröder and Jeff Teague on the floor at the same time, and their speed and distribution abilities would drive teams crazy. With Demarre Carroll now gone, I expect to see a lot of this with Kyle Korver at the 3 at times during the game. If the Hawks are playing well, expect Coach Bud to limit Kyle Korver’s minutes at times to keep him healthy. The 2015 season took a toll on the sharpshooter’s body. For all of these reasons, expect an uptick in Schroder’s minutes.
Last year’s playoffs was a big learning experience for the young point guard, and he has being playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki for the German national team during the summer. There is seemingly no offseason for DS-17, who has continued to grind since his rookie season in efforts to get better. It’s paying off. I think this could be the year that the young point guard breaks out, and that could be a huge part of Atlanta’s success in 2015-16. He will play a huge role despite coming off our bench. If he plays 25 minutes a night, he will be a prime candidate for the sixth man of the year award, especially if he can continue to improve.