Is Dennis Schroder Closer To Starting Than We Think?

Dennis Schroder’s infamous golden patch has become a staple of the Atlanta Hawks. After struggling in his rookie season with the team, the explosive German point guard has taken the league by storm in the past two seasons and become one of the best sixth men in the NBA. In his sophomore year, Schroder averaged 10.0 points and 4.1 assists and has followed that up with even better numbers this season at 11.1 points and 4.7 assists. The biggest improvement has been in his jump shooting. Schroder shot just 23.8% from behind the arc in his rookie campaign, but has since shot over 34% from the three-point line.

Lately the Hawks have been using Schroder even more at the end of games instead of starter Jeff Teague. Teague, who has seen a significant dip in his numbers from last year in which he was an all-star, has not seemed nearly as confident, or in control of the offense, as Schroder in recent weeks. Coach Budenholzer has always seemed hesitant to hand the keys of his coveted system to the ultra-talented Schroder because of his tendency to turn the ball over one too many times.

Both Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder’s contracts expire after 2016-2017 season, so it seems obvious the Hawks will only be able to keep one. That guy was always presumed to be Dennis Schroder. He is the future point guard of the Atlanta Hawks, but the present one coming into this year was undoubtedly Jeff Teague. Teague was coming off the best season of his career, and had the type of Eastern Conference Finals performance that made most Hawks fans think he was just entering the prime of his career. However, whether it be poor health or a lack of confidence, Teague has not seen the same sort of success this year. Atlanta seemingly made a statement at the trade deadline that they were still not yet comfortable with the idea of Schroder starting. However, Schroder’s recent play has been impeccable, and with Teague’s continuing inconsistencies, a change of the guard may happen sooner than we think if this trend continues.

Schroder has averaged 13.3 points on 47.5% shooting, 4.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds in just 20.4 minutes per game in February. That is a ridiculous 23.5 points, 8.6 assists and 6.9 rebounds per 36 minute average. Those are Russell Westbrook type numbers. In the Hawks’ last game versus Milwaukee, Schroder logged 40 minutes scored 25 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed 8 boards. He has the competitiveness and the attitude of a true star. I remember watching the Hawks take on the Cavs last year and Dennis Schroder was battling with Lebron James prior to an in bounds play. Even though he was outweighed by 100 pounds he gave James all he could handle and let him hear about it afterwords. At that point, I knew he was going to be something special. Since, Atlanta fans have seen the flashes of swagger and grit the young German guard has.

Atlanta has lost 4 of their last 5 games, and while fans have been waiting to see the same team that they saw last year, things do not look to be getting any better. Putting Dennis Schroder in the starting lineup could easily provide a spark and possibly make the Hawks a better team. However, it seems unlikely that the Hawks would opt to make Schroder the starter this year. Atlanta held off on the possibility of moving Teague at the deadline, so it is clear coach Budenholzer and the rest of the organization has faith that Teague can lead this team back to the Eastern Conference Finals. Moving Teague to the bench now would also undoubtedly hurt his trade value if the Hawks opt to explore their options this offseason. Schroder wants to start and is continuing to flash his limitless potential, but for now this is Teague’s team and its his job to lose.

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