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NBA 2020-21 Season Player in Focus: Dennis Schroder and his journey so far with the LA Lakers

Dennis Schroder #17 stands on the court during the fourth quarter of an NBA game.
Dennis Schroder #17 stands on the court during the fourth quarter of an NBA game.
ANALYST
Modified 31 Mar 2021
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The 2020 NBA champion LA Lakers added Dennis Schroder during the offseason to shore up their backcourt. This followed the departure of Rajon Rondo, who played a crucial role in last year’s title chase. It was vital for the team's repeat-title hopes to add a point guard.

That led the LA Lakers to seek out the German-born guard in a trade with the OKC Thunder, but they had to part ways with Danny Green. Green was sent packing along wite draft rights to first-round pick Jaden McDaniels to complete the trade.

Dennis Schroder arrived in the NBA via the Atlanta Hawks who selected him with the 17th overall pick of the 2013 draft. In his fourth season, the Braunschweig native landed the starting point guard job for the Hawks and averaged 17.9 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per outing.

Two years later, he was traded to OKC and accepted a backup role to Russell Westbrook in 2018-19 and to Chris Paul in 2019-20.

Enes Kanter #11 falls for a loose ball between Dennis Schroder #17 and Montrezl Harrell #15.
Enes Kanter #11 falls for a loose ball between Dennis Schroder #17 and Montrezl Harrell #15.

Schroder was the runner-up to former LA Clippers reserve Montrezl Harrell for the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year award with a career-high 18.9-points-per-game average. Ironically, the two are now teammates at the LA Lakers and are seeking their first-ever championship.

Role for the LA Lakers

As a starter for the LA Lakers, Dennis Schroder’s job is to provide another ball handler, playmaker and shot creator on the squad to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Defensively, he is there to put pressure on the opposing team’s guards and wreak havoc by disrupting the passing lanes.

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More importantly, the LA Lakers need him to be a third scorer who is consistent enough to be another threat on the floor. When James is taking a breather, Schroder has to orchestrate the offense and make sure it runs smoothly.

Season so far

Three months into the 2020-21 season, Dennis Schroder has been everything the LA Lakers expected of him and more. In 43 games, he is on the floor for 31.7 minutes a night and puts up 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and a career-best 1.2 steals per contest.

He is third on the team in scoring, second in dimes and second in steals.

His value to the LA Lakers was never more apparent than when he missed four straight games in February while in the league’s health and safety protocols.

After Davis suffered Achilles and calf injuries against the Denver Nuggets on Valentine’s Day, they still won the next game. Then came Schroder’s time away from the team.

The LA Lakers subsequently lost all four contests but they started winning again as soon as he returned. Before James was sidelined with a high right ankle sprain against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20, the defending champs had won six of eight games with him and the four-time MVP, playing without Davis.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of Dennis Schroder’s gifts is his ability to stop-and-go on a dime and leave his opponents in the dust. Moreover, he can find seams in the defense to exploit and drive to the basket with his uncanny quickness.

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Dennis Schroder #17 drives on Terry Rozier #3.
Dennis Schroder #17 drives on Terry Rozier #3.

On defense, he can pick up opposing ball handlers full court and be an absolute pest in the passing lanes when the spirit moves him. He’s also an excellent free-throw shooter, making 83.9 percent of his shots from the line this year.

On the flip side, one of the biggest weaknesses that the 27-year old has is his 3-point shooting. He has never been known as a good or adequate marksman, shooting a woeful 31.8 percent from beyond the arc in his first year with the LA Lakers.

He’s also making a lowly 43.6 percent of his shots overall, which is right around his career average. Then again, one would have expected his percentage to go up while playing with James and Davis.

Dennis Schroder #17 shoots over Jaxson Hayes #10
Dennis Schroder #17 shoots over Jaxson Hayes #10

Expectations from Dennis Schroder going forward

As the season heads into the latter stages and into the playoffs, Dennis Schroder will be counted on to give the LA Lakers what Rondo did in the 2020 postseason.

Playoff Rondo was something to behold and Dennis Schroder will have big shoes to fill when the time comes. Thus far, he has been better than Regular Season Rondo and that bodes well for what he can do when the games count most.

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In last year’s playoffs, the 6-foot-3 guard was the second-leading scorer for the Thunder and averaged 17.3 points an outing in seven games. He could be a similar spark plug for the LA Lakers, but with better players around him.

Never one to back down from a fight, Dennis Schroder is a feisty competitor at all times and will no doubt give the team the boost it needs for their 2021 title run.

Also Read: NBA Rumors: Rival executives speculate LA Lakers will buy out Marc Gasol

Published 31 Mar 2021, 21:51 IST
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