From an Atlanta Hawks perspective, Friday night at NBA All-Star Weekend belonged to Dennis Schröder, and he didn't disappoint. Schröder and Hawks assistant coach Kenny Atkinson teamed up to lead the World Team to a 121-112 victory over the U.S. team in the first edition of the Rising Stars Challenge under a new format.
As you may imagine, there wasn't a great deal of defense played on this evening, but Schröder did his best to distribute the ball evenly to his many talented teammates. Atlanta's second-year point guard went for 6 points (on 3-5 FG) and 7 assists in just 12 minutes before halftime, and Schröder was clearly the player on the court who appeared most interested in creating for others.
The World squad led by just two points at the break, but the second half was a bit more lopsided. Dennis Schröder ended with 13 points on 6 for 11 shooting to go along with a game-high 9 assists (and 3 steals), and while he was not named MVP of the game (an honor that went to Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins), his play stood out throughout the evening on the way to the 9-point win. Fittingly, the 21-year-old even played a part in sealing the final margin with a breakaway dunk to give the World an insurmountable six-point lead with less than a minute remaining, and Schröder capped the night with an alley-oop dish to Giannis Antetokounmpo for the exclamation point.
Hawks fans can personally attest to the significant development in Dennis Schröder's career this season, and he has firmly established himself as one of the best young point guards in the NBA. Friday night, even in an exhibition, was another example of that, and it certainly felt like Schröder belonged on the floor with the other "rising stars" of the league.