After a bit of time to allow the 2017-2018 season to breathe, there are a number of on-court questions to answer and, in this space over the next few days, the Peachtree Hoops staff will spring into action to tackle them. In our fourth edition, our writers evaluate this season’s performance from Dennis Schröder.
Brad Rowland: I think somewhere in the slightly below average range makes sense, so we’ll go with a C-minus. Schroder’s defense was bothersome throughout the season and, even with a small uptick in the second half, it is tough to overcome his lack of resistance at the point of attack. More than anything, frustration boils over given that the Hawks have seen Schroder perform better on that end of the floor previously, foreshadowing effort concerns rather than a simple inability to function. Offensively, he produced significant counting stats and was largely efficient on non-three point looks. It is safe to say that Schroder made improvements offensively and I’ve long defended him (at least to a point) because his usage is more a product of Atlanta’s lack of offensive creation than an indictment of his game. The defense is the biggest reason why he doesn’t grade higher but, if you want to give more encouraging marks for offensive improvement, that can be sold.
Jeff Siegel: I’ll give him a C-minus overall. He was abysmal defensively and was one of the worst starting point guard in the league on that end. But he brought a real offensive production that can’t be ignored. Schroder couldn’t hit water from a boat from beyond the three-point line but still got to the rim at will and shot a career-best 55 percent once he did so. Couple that with a career-low in turnover rate and it’s fair to say he took a slight step forward on the offensive end, even with the three-point shot going in the toilet this year. B-plus on offense, F-minus-minus-minus on defense, averages out to a C-minus when you consider that offense is more important than defense for a point guard.
Graham Chapple: I’m lower on Schroder than a lot of people are (and always have been) but I’ll give him a C.
A lot of people thought the starting point guard would come and be the sole leader of this team and possibly take his game up a notch, free of Dwight Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Paul Millsap. This was year five for Dennis too, everything was in place for him to take that step. But he looked the same as the previous seasons and shot worse percentages all across the board (including an absolutely painful 29% from three on nearly four attempts per game). And this was all hugely disappointing for those who expected him to be better. Defensively, of course, he was not good. He was absolutely awful to begin the season defensively, absolutely awful. Added to the legal stuff off the court (none of which makes for good reading at all) I’m not surprised why people have fallen off the bandwagon with Schroder this season.
That said, there some things I thought he was OK at this season. He did lead the Hawks in scoring this season at 19.4 a game and teams struggled to deal with his pace and ability to get inside. He lit up a few teams this season and was usually someone the Hawks could go to if they needed a basket or two. His defensive effort did improve as the season went on -- it still wasn’t great but it was better than it was. Dennis also reduced his turnovers this season from 3.3 to 2.7 a game. For me personally, Schroder has been absolutely infuriating to watch, absolutely infuriating -- he would have his boneheaded drives, poor straightaway pull-up shots and silly turnovers. For me, he was easily the most frustrating Hawk to watch in 2016-17. But this season there was definitely a lot less of those boneheaded plays, reckless turnovers and poor shots, and that’s reflected in his reduction of turnovers. There are still times he takes poor shots but, for me, he was not the most infuriating Hawk to watch this season once that defensive effort picked up a bit (congratulations, Taurean Prince).
An average season for Schroder for me. He didn’t step up the way people wanted but still produced and improved in other areas that may have slipped away from people’s minds.
Glen Willis: D. What efficiency he had as a shooter evaporated (at least from three-point range) across the season. The new offensive system that the team ran this season was not ideal for his style of play. And he deserves credit for buying into it. He was able to find as many opportunities to drive the basketball in the half court and to operate in the pick and roll just as often as he did last season. But his perimeter shots came from far less predictable spots on the floor and as a result he really struggled. He improved some, but did not take a meaningful step forward in any phase and that is largely what my evaluation of him is based upon.
Greg Willis: D-. He put stats in this score book, but he did very little to lift this team and make players around him better. In December, he had a decent run of games that gave me optimism that he might be elevating his play, but he regressed after the calander hit 2018. His shooting was was below league average and his defensive effort was not acceptable. For me, the most frustrating moments of the Hawks season were times when four players were working hard on defense and Dennis’ lack of effort, focus and awareness made everyone else’s hard work for naught.
Sam Meredith: Welp. I really don’t want to be that guy, but I thought Schroder was flat out bad this season. Allow me to explain. While the surface numbers may be there, a closer look reveals Schroder to be one of the worst starting point guards in the entire league. He shot 29% from three and averaged 17 shots a game to get 19 points per game. You may look at his 6.2 assists per game and think he was doing a good job of distributing and for some of the time he was, but at 2.7 turnovers per game he wasn’t sharing the ball efficiently. To top it all off he owned a -2.2 DBPM, the worst mark of his career on defense.
Zach Hood: I’ll give Schroder a C for this season. He probably has the most appealing stat line for Atlanta this season if you look at the traditional metrics, but he also struggled immensely on the defensive end at times and chucked up a ton of three-pointers (3.9 per game, a career high) while shooting only 29 percent from behind the arc (his worst three-point percentage since his he was a rookie). He did a decent job getting others involved with 7.2 assists per 36 minutes and had a few nice games (most notably a Hawks season high 41 points in Utah), but he also struggled to produce with much efficiency for large portions of the season and was essentially a volume scorer with an inflated stat line due to his career high usage rate of 30.4. Schroder struggled to make the leap some thought he would this season, but I don’t think it was solely his fault. Playing on the worst roster of his career seemed to rub off on his overall level of performance and focus, although I do believe he adjusted to more of a leadership role late in the season.
Xavier Cooper: I have to give Schroder a solid C. He definitely could’ve played better this season. Sure, his shooting from beyond the arc was atrocious. But I believe he forced himself to pass the ball too much instead of just shooting at times because of that. I feel it’s better to be aggressive and not efficient, than to be reserved and passive and still be inefficient. He would have games where he had 16 points at the half and went missing the entire second half. He had plenty of games where he could have easily scored 30 points but ended up only having three 30+ point games this season. In Schroder’s defense, he hasn’t been apart of a stable lineup since taking over as the starting point guard. He’s had to go from playing with Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard to playing with Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Illyasova and for some of the season John Collins. A point guard’s job is to learn his teammates tendencies and style so that he can cater to them when he’s on the floor. To have to play with a million different lineups and not a great amount of talent is not an ideal situation for a player trying to take the next step in his game. His defense and jump shooting will need to improve this summer. But for the tools he had to use this season, he performed adequately.