Dennis Schröder. This is a name Atlanta Hawks fans need to get used to. The future of the Hawks lies in Schröder.
Drafted in 2013 with the 17th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, he looked to be a player that had a lot of promise coming over from Germany. What they got though, is a future star in this league. He initially drew a lot of comparisons to Rajon Rondo because of his poor shooting touch, lack of muscle, long wingspan, defensive presence and the natural ability to distribute the basketball in creative ways. When he was drafted, it seemed that if Schröder reached his max potential he could be a player similar to Rondo. However, he has shown in just a little bit of time that his upside could be much higher than that.
Schröder did not even pick up a basketball until he was eleven years old. When he was sixteen his father passed away, and Schröder vowed to devote his time and effort to the basketball court, promising his mother he was going to make it to the NBA. In his last year playing in Germany, he won Basketball Bundesliga Most Improved Player Award while averaging 12 points and 3 assists a game playing for Phantoms Braunschweig. Bundesliga is Germany’s highest level league. It was clear Schröder had plenty of room to improve and could be something really special.
In his first year with the Atlanta Hawks he only averaged 3.7 points and 1.9 assists in a limited role for the team. He spent a good amount of time playing in D-League assignments. It seemed as if Ferry may have whiffed on another pick in drafting Schröder. However, the dedicated Schröder clearly worked on his game in his first real NBA offseason. He played pickup games every day in Phillips Arena until he went to go play for the German National Team in July. He came back with a new mentality and swagger to him. He is fearless and no matter how big or strong the opposition is he continues to attack the paint so fast that he looks like a blur out on the court. Never have I seen a guard get in the paint so easily. If Schröder can learn how to finish at the hoop better, he will be one of the most dangerous point guards in the NBA.
Schröder competed in the Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge over the 2015 All-Star weekend and continued to impress NBA fans everywhere. In the Rising Stars challenge he had 13 points, 9 assists and 3 steals. Now through 59 games of his second NBA season, Schröder is averaging 8.7 points per game and 3.7 assists per game while playing a prominent role off the bench. The most amazing part of Schröder’s development so far has to be the improvement of his jump shot. He has developed a very poised mid-range game and a pretty good three-point shot already. This year Schröder has shot 87 three pointers and made 29 of them (33.3%). To put that in perspective, Lebron James shoots 33.5% from three and former Hawks Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford shoot around 33% as well. Pretty unbelievable considering that his shot was considered completely broken when coming into the league. Schröder’s number on paper don’t do him justice, but he certainly passes the eye test when examining his talent.
Now it looks as if the Atlanta Hawks have found a diamond in the rough in a weak 2013 NBA draft class. It is very possible that when all is said and done that Dennis Schröder will go down as the best player in his draft class if he continues to develop at such an alarming rate. One thing is for sure, he is definitely one of the most unique players in the NBA. There is nobody he can be compared to. The Rondo comparison has been overblown and his style has turned into something totally different. Schröder is such a unique player. He comes from Germany, has a blonde streak in his hair, an umlaut in his name, and attacks the rim with such fearlessness. He is his own player, he is not Rondo, he is Dennis Schröder and he is only 21 and is a future star in this league. The Hawks struck gold with Dennis Schröder.