For Dennis Schroder, the 2017-2018 season was really the first time in his career where he was the number one option on offense. This season was also the first year of a four season-long $70 million dollar contract extension for Schroder and expectations were high for the Atlanta Hawks point guard to say the least.
The young point guard carried a 30 percent usage rate this season, which was by far the highest mark of his career, but sadly, he carried the lowest win shares per 48 minutes of his career. This is due to Schroder playing some of the weakest defense in the entire league along with the fact that he was surrounded by far less talent than he has been since joining Atlanta.
Despite the defensive woes, Schroder was still the number one option for the Hawks all season long on the offensive end, where he did most of his best work with 19 points per game along with six assists per game. On offense, Schroder was perfectly serviceable, aside from the 29 percent three point shooting and nearly 3 turnovers per game. He has the speed to get to the rim, his mid-range jumper was much improved (and a legitimate asset) and he was really beginning to distribute the ball well at the end of this season before injuries derailed him.
At exit interviews, Schroder was asked about his ankle injury that caused him to miss the end of the season and said it is beginning to feel better.
“I feel pretty good, still recovering,” Schroder said. “It was best for me and the organization to sit back the last few games and just try go into the summer healthy so I can take two weeks off, three weeks off from now and from then on get to work and get better for the next season.”
He also commented on the poor shooting from beyond the arc and labeled it as one of the places he could improve at this offseason.
“I want my three-point shot to be like my pull-up,” Schroder indicated. “Shooting it the same way from everywhere and getting stronger in the weight room. I think those are the two most important parts for me this year.”
For Schroder, becoming a leader this season was something new for him after playing alongside Paul Millsap for his entire career and when asked about the adjustment he had to make this season he talked about how much becoming a leader helped him in his own growth.
“To be a leader of any NBA team is a blessing, first off, but it’s tough to get up in the morning and go to practice and see 12/13 guys looking up to you,” Schroder said. “Me and (Kent Bazemore), trying to do the same thing you do every time, so you got to be ready when you get up, try to set an example for everyone. It’s tough, especially in a season like that when we’re losing a lot, try and stay positive. I learned a lot from that too. Moving forward I think this is good for me as well.”
Dennis was also very complimentary of the young guys on the team that took strides this season, particularly John Collins and Taurean Prince.
“It was tough. I’ve been here for four years — now in my fifth year, just passed — we’ve been in the playoffs every time and to have a season like that is tough for everyone,” Schroder said. “But I think we made the right step and everyone got better. Taurean played great, amazing the last couple of games and got better over the year. John Collins, he’s a rookie, he did a lot of things and all the young guys did a great job. I think we went in the right direction, for sure.”
For Schroder, the upcoming season will be pivotal to him lasting long-term in the NBA. He will need to hone his three point jumper in and find a way to be more efficient with his shots (he averaged 17 shots to get 19 points). However, before he can even think about next season Schroder will need to focus on his legal issues in this offseason. When asked about it, Schroder says he believes the issues will be resolved this summer.
“I’m not concerned right now,” he said. “I was focused on the season. Now I got time to focus on it, talk to my lawyer about it. I think I meet him tomorrow and we go from there.
“Of course. I think it’s going to be done (this summer).”
It is unknown what the future holds for Dennis Schroder in a new offense, under a new coach and surrounded by very young players, but the Hawks will need him to come up big for them in the future with three seasons still to come on his contract. While 2017-18 may have not gone great for Dennis on and off the floor he is still just 24 years old and has time to make a recovery and still grow all around.