This has not been the most fun week for fans of Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder. For one, he sat for the last 8 minutes and 14 seconds of Sunday’s loss at New York. The decision to sit him seemed to be a matter of discipline although no one actually said so.
He did not play in the fourth quarter in the loss in Cleveland on Tuesday night. He had played almost 10 full minutes in the third quarter. The five starting players played a majority of the third quarter as they tried to keep the game competitive.
The Hawks trailed the Cavaliers by 14 points at the half and they were trailing by 15 points when Schroder went to the bench. The game appeared to be heading towards garbage time around when the starting point guard would normally re-enter the contest. But Coach Budenholzer decided to stay with a unit that made somewhat of a late rally although the game was never really in question.
But, if those events made you feel like this week’s edition of the Dennis Schroder report would be awful, there may be some surprising news to see here.
Schroder’s effective field goal percentage has barely changed since the last report. That might be a bit of a surprise because he has only made 25 percent of his three point attempts over the last two weeks. But he has been getting to the rim often enough that his overall efficiency has been pretty static over that period.
He improved last season to a 34 percent shooter from the three point line and there is naturally hope that a 24-year-old player can take another step. But that has not happened as of yet. Although he did have two made three point attempts in Cleveland which was the first game he had done so since a Nov. 20 game in San Antonio.
To be an efficient scorer, one has to either be a good three point shooter or get to the free throw line regularly. That is why this report tracks eFG% and free throws made per 100 possessions separately. Schroder is 23rd in the league in free throw percentage. But he is still not getting to the free throw line often enough. He has the second lowest free throw rate of any player with a usage rate of 29 percent or higher.
This is the area of his game that has improved the most by far over the past two weeks. His assist volume has decreased a bit during this stretch but he has had more than two turnovers in just one of his last ten games. This does indicate that he has cleaned up his game in a positive way and has become a bit of a better decision maker with the ball. As you can see, Schröder is nearing the mark of measuring as a top ten point guard as measured by this specific statistic.
On-Off Defensive Rating
Note: the +- scale of this metric has been changed since we first included in the last report simply for the purpose of + indicating good and - indicating bad.
The team is still playing significantly better defense when Schroder is on the bench than when he is on the floor, almost 15 points better per 100 possessions. But two weeks ago, the team was almost 16.5 points better when he was not on the floor. Over the past two weeks, the team has been (just) 8.4 points better on defense per 100 possessions better when he sits. So this metric appears to be potentially heading in a better direction but there is still a very long way to go for him to be considered even a top 30 or so defensive point guard in the league.
However, the reason he was benched on Sunday was, in my view, because of a very casual defensive play.
This is the last defensive possession Schroder played in the game. His effort has been better at times of late but it certainly was not on this possession.
We will be back with the fifth volume of the Dennis Schroder Report in two weeks.
Background on these chosen statistical targets from the original article:
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 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.