Second-year guard Dennis Schröder went to Summer League as a player with a lot to prove. Schröder had a solid summer league campaign as a rookie and entered the regular season as the Atlanta Hawks' backup point guard. However, he lost that job early on to Shelvin Mack and struggled to find consistent playing time there after.
At first glance, Schröder's numbers from Las Vegas don't inspire. He shot 40 percent from the field in the six games including 31 percent from three-point range. That while averaging 4.5 turnovers in just over 32 minutes of action. However, if you disregard Schröder's 2-13 performance in Atlanta's summer league opening loss to Washington and those numbers jump up to 45 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc.
The turnovers in many ways were a direct result of having the ball in his hands much more so than the previous summer. During Schröder's rookie season he played much more of a facilitator role with Mike Scott shouldering a lot of the offensive burden. This summer it was his turn to carry the offense and while the shooting numbers are still a little suspect, he displayed a quick first step and the ability to get into the paint and draw fouls while playing in the pick and roll. Schröder led Atlanta in scoring at 15.7 points per game.
In 2014, Schröder was 13-15 from the free throw line, but this summer those numbers jumped up to 31-39. Again there was a lot more usage involved this time around but it also shows a better understanding of how to get space in the Hawks' pick and roll game.
Once training camp begins, Schröder's own offense will be taking a back seat to his role as a pass first point guard. Atlanta is a team that relies on its ball movement and a lot of that responsibility falls on the lead guard. Hawks assistant coach Darvin Ham talked about what the coaching staff was looking for from Dennis next season following a summer league performance last week.
"We're looking for him to defend, rebound and keep us organized on offense," Ham said. "And first and foremost before those three we need him to compete and compete with a level head."
Competing with a level head may be the key phrase in that sentence for Schröder who at times was out of control it seemed as a rookie. It takes time for young players to adjust to the speed of the game and for most of the season he had limited opportunities to experience that.
Where Schröder fits this season is still a bit up in the air. Jeff Teague is fully entrenched as the team's starter but Mack is currently a restricted free agent. Mack took hold of the back up job early on last season after Schröder faltered and refused to let it go. He is coming off his best season in the league but like most restricted free agents, has seen limited interest so far during the free agency period. As teams start to round out their roster, the Hawks will have a decision to make should someone sign Mack to an offer sheet.