A lot can change in one calendar year and fans of the Atlanta Hawks can attest to that. Earlier this week, though, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post served up a reminder with his annual Top 100 player rankings. The 2016-2017 edition included four members of the Hawks but, for 2017-2018, only point guard Dennis Schröder makes the cut.
That, of course, is not exactly a shock in that both Sports Illustrated and ESPN (among others) also included only the 24-year-old on their top 100’s but it is a bit of surprise to see Schröder actually fall in the rankings. After entering at No. 77 for Washington Post a year ago, he sits at No. 84 this year and that rankings is accompanied by this blurb.
The Hawks have entered a full rebuild, leaving Schröder as the best player on the roster after Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard departed via free agency and trade, respectively. Schröder should put up big numbers this season by default, but it's hard to see how that will translate into more wins when there is such a paucity of talent around him.
Given the production (17.9 points, 6.3 assists, 53.3 percent TS) a season ago, it seems slightly off that he would fall on the list. It is worth noting that the 2016-2017 rankings did acknowledge a bit of projection for Schröder in his first year as a full-time starter but, especially when taking the playoff performance against the Wizards into account, expectations are tough to reconcile.
Elsewhere, Kent Bazemore (No. 90 last season) did not make the cut this year and the absence of both Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard leaves the Hawks barren aside from the team’s lead guard. Given Bazemore’s early-season struggles and the backlash that accompanied them, it isn’t a stunner to see him fall off the list either and, in truth, it was probably an overstatement to include him for 2016-2017, even coming off the very lucrative contract.
In terms of his positioning among point guards, Schröder lands ahead of Detroit’s Reggie Jackson, Denver’s Jamal Murray (who will be manning that position more this season) and Dallas rookie Dennis Smith Jr. while trailing the likes of Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon (something of a combo guard), Clippers veteran Patrick Beverley and old friend Jeff Teague. That seems (roughly) correct at this stage, though the upside of Schröder certainly outweighs that of Jackson, Beverley and even Brogdon if things go well this season.
Perception of Dennis Schröder’s game will be interesting from a national perspective this year, especially if big numbers are accompanied by a lack of team success. Still, it will be important to use context wisely and there is still plenty of room for growth from the still-young point guard.