Dennis Schroder is two weeks in to his second season as the starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks and his first while earning an eight-figure salary. He has been somewhat a divisive figure among fans and observers. Some see a lot of upside yet still to be realized by the 24-year-old German born player, others see problems that may not be able to be overcome. His off the court issues from last season have not been put to rest this season and these incident(s) only serve to fuel the narrative that he may not be the undisputed starting point guard for this franchise’s foreseeable future.
Today, we unveil the Schroder Report with an intent to measure whether or not he is making progress in establishing himself as a worthy starter at his position if not propelling himself near or above playing like a league average starter.
The statistical measures we have chosen to use include effective field goal percentage (eFG%), free throws made per 100 possessions (FTM/100), assist to turnover ratio (AST:TO) and defensive impact for which we will use ESPN.com’s defensive real plus minus.
To establish some targets, we are using the last three NBA seasons in a weighted fashion. For example to identify a target eFG% for a top 20 starting point guard, we made our best effort to identify the 20th most efficient scorer from the field among qualified starters at the position. The statistical sample from the 2016-17 season was weighted 2x, the statistical sample from the 2015-16 season was weighted 1.5x and the 2014-15 sample was weighted 1.0x.
The philosophy behind this is based upon an attempt to account for how much the league has changed offensively over the last three seasons. Three point attempts are up across across the board. A number of teams have embraced an approach to take the risks of increasing turnover frequency by playing faster and aiming to overwhelm opposing defenses physically and mentally.
We could simplify the shooting metrics by reporting true shooting percentage (TS%) which takes into account productivity and efficiency from the field and at the free throw line. But the thinking around breaking that into separate stats to track is based upon the fact that Schroder has made himself into a near-elite if not irrefutably elite free throw shooter. As such, if he fails to use that tool to get easy points at the free throw line it will have been a massive missed opportunity.
ESPN historically does not release updated DPRM statistics until teams have played approximately 20 games each. So we will have to wait until a future version of the Schroder Report to check in on how he is doing on that end of the court.d
Note: the individual players included on the extreme ends of the scale are for context purposes. The statistics representative are the weighted values from the last three NBA seasons as described above.
Schroder had his career best shooting season last year and outproduced players including all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook as measured by eFG%. This season he has had a slow start from the 3-point line and is shooting about 6% worse on shots from 15-19 feet. He has made 4 of his 9 3-point attempts since returning from an ankle injury and if that continues we should see his efficiency on field goals trend toward where it was last season.
Russell Westbrook makes this scale look as ridiculous as it honestly should. Before you scratch your head about how he measures in at 13 FTM/100 when that exceeds his career high, recall how we are weighing last season’s stats. Some rule changes were introduced prior to this season which will almost surely reduce overall free throw volume. As such we might refactor this overall scale a month or two into the season to reflect the current environment.
Schroder has converted 18 of his first 20 free throw attempts, a handful which have been the result of technical fouls (defensive 3 second violations, etc.). But so far this season he is tracking toward a career low free throw rate which indicates that he is still likely forfeiting what would otherwise be a massive opportunity to get easy points. He lead the league in drives last season and has demonstrated at least as much aggressiveness during this season.
Schroder has a would be career low 2.2 turnovers per 36 minutes on the season to this point. His assists per 36 minutes is in line with where it has been the last three seasons. The result is that he is currently in the top 5 among starting points in AST:TO.
As you can see this is the area of play where he has lagged behind his peers most significantly in previous seasons. If he can maintain anything close to this as the season progresses it would benefit the Hawks tremendously and would elevate him toward being considered an indisputable starting quality point guard.
That said the league is as talented and deep at the position as perhaps as it has ever been and Schroder has not yet had to match up with any of the elite point guards in the league. In the month of November he will need to square of with the likes of James Harden, John Wall, Patrick Beverly and Kyle Lowry.
This will be introduced in a future iteration of the Schroder Report. The Hawks are currently 18th in the league in defensive rating giving up 105 points per 100 possessions. Schroder currently has an individual net rating of 109.5. He was one of the worst defensive players as the position last season as measured by DPRM. We will have to wait and see if he has made any progress in this area in the early season.
The Schroder Report will be updated on a bi-weekly basis here at Peachtree Hoops. Stay tuned.