Dennis Schröder came into this season as a bit of a question mark but he is quickly establishing himself as a go-to player for the Atlanta Hawks.
After a somewhat up and down start to the season, Schröder has put together one of the best months of his career in December. That was on display Friday night when he scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to help Atlanta steal a road win in Denver.
Schröder is averaging 17.6 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds on the season while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point range. He has taken his game to another level through 11 games this month averaging 21.2 points and 7.4 assists while shooting a blistering 52.3 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range.
Schröder’s success has long been based on his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. So far this season he has been able to keep opposing defenses honest and has displayed a solid three-point shot as well as a more consistent pull-up jumper.
The Hawks have needed it as they continue to slog their way through a 6-13 stretch of the season. We have said many times of late that this is a team searching for its identity. Well part of that identity lies with Schröder who is making the most of his opportunity as the team’s starting point guard.
Muscala comes up big again
When you look at Atlanta’s 15-15 record, you have to wonder where they might be without the many solid contributions that they have received from their bench players. Mike Muscala came up big again for the Hawks Friday night with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.
Muscala has been a rock all season long. He made adjustments to his shooting stroke over the summer and those have paid big dividends so far this season. Muscala is averaging a career-best 8.5 points per game and is shooting 54 percent from the field. His 46 percent mark from three-point range is the best on the team currently.
While many were looking for some regression, Muscala has gotten better each month. He shot 52 percent in November and that is up to 54 percent so far this month. He is shooting 56 percent from three-point range through 11 games in December.
The Hawks have had to endure injury and rotation changes throughout their start to the season but Muscala has been a consistent positive since the outset of the season.
Bembry impressive in first extended run of season
DeAndre Bembry was playing in the D-League Thursday night. On Friday, he was part of the Hawks’ rotation. Bembry was a surprise inclusion Friday night and he performed reasonably well going 4 for 6 from the field and finishing with nine points and four rebounds in 19 minutes.
It is interesting that Budenholzer opted to go with Bembry at the expense of Taurean Prince who made a brief appearance early in the game but didn’t return. Bemby however appeared composed and flashed a lot of defensive potential while showing an efficient offensive game.
It is critical that both Bembry and Prince improve their perimeter shot but there is a lot to be excited for. Both have had stints this season where they have been impressive and it will be interesting to see if the Hawks eventually make any moves that will free up playing time for both.