Dennis Schroder is taking over as the starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks this season. Here is what he needs to do in order to make this year a successful one.
After last season, the Atlanta Hawks had a decision to make. Did they want to continue on with Jeff Teague as their point guard? Or did they want to get rid of him and hand the job over to third-year man Dennis Schroder? Ultimately, the Hawks ruled in Schroder’s favor. Teague was traded to the Indiana Pacers on draft night, and the German product Schroder found himself as the undisputed starter at point guard.
While he played a good amount last season, Schroder has never been a full-time starter in the NBA. The jury is still out on how effective he will be in this capacity. If Schroder wants his first season as the starter to be a successful one, he must do the following things.
Become More of a Threat from the Outside
There’s no question that Schroder’s offensive skill set is based around getting to the basket. That’s what he’s best at, and it’s something that his game should continue to revolve around.
However, if he wants to take the next step towards becoming an elite NBA point guard, Schroder needs to make opponents at least respect him as an outside shooting threat. He doesn’t have to transform into the East Coast version of Steph Curry by any means. But if Schroder could improve on his 32.2% three-point percentage from 2015-16, it would do wonders for the Hawks offense. Defenders would have to play him more tightly on the perimeter. With Schroder’s speed and quickness, this would allow him to more easily get to the basket for easy layups. This could in turn open up passing lanes for him to kick the ball out for an open three.
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Cut Down on the Turnovers
Schroder’s aggressiveness is one of his best characteristics. However, that intensity doesn’t come without a bad side.
Schroder averaged just over two turnovers per game last season. That does’t sound like all that much, until you realize that he played just over 20 minutes per game off the bench. Coach Mike Budenholzer wants his point guard to be in attack mode, but not if that means turning the ball over. In order for Schroder to have a successful campaign, he is going to have to limit his turnovers. If he can keep the amount of turnovers constant from last year while his minutes increase, then the Hawks will be in good shape.
Keep Playing Harassing Defense
Through his first three years in the league, Schroder has developed a bit of a reputation as a defensive agitator. His long wingspan allows him to disrupt passing lanes, and his tireless energy lets him hound his man when he has the ball.
Schroder averaged 1.6 steals per 36 minutes of action last season. If he can keep that up, the Atlanta Hawks defense has the potential to be one of the best in the league.
It’s not like Dennis Schroder is a rookie starting from his first day in the NBA. He played a lot last season, including down the stretch in several close games in the playoffs. If he keeps playing like he has and makes these adjustments to his game, Schroder could emerge as one of the Eastern Conference’s better point guards in 2016-17.