That’s all fair, but it makes it easy for role players to not get properly recognized. In the ebb and flow of the season, several role players go through hot streaks that go under the radar.
We’ll try to rectify this issue by awarding a Role Player of the Week Award. This is to highlight a superb week by a player who may not get a ton of coverage. The Week 8 winner is Dennis Schroder.
Schroder came into the season with big expectations, but hasn’t met them so far. His shooting percentage has gone down, and he really hasn’t made a leap in any part of his game.
Yet, last week, Schroder started to show why the Hawks expect big things from him. His best game came in his team’s biggest win, which included 22 points and five assists in a 109-101 victory over Boston.
When Schroder is at his best, he’s using his speed to create mismatches and his vision to create plays for himself and others. That was on full display in Boston:
Some point guards might rush this pass, or simply attack the big man. Schroder knew Al Horford was going to have an advantage on his man on the switch, so he waited patiently and delivered a great pass.
Schroder’s assist game has always been the most tantalizing part of his skill set, and he started to put that together last season. He averaged 7.5 assists per 36 minutes last year, and is averaging an excellent 7.2 assists per 36 this year.
With his passing game already at a high level, many expected Schroder to become more of an efficient scorer this year. He combines great speed with length and has shown an ability to finish impressively at times as well.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. If anything, Schroder has been much more passive on offense, and his three-point shot has regressed.
After shooting 35.1 percent on threes last year, Schroder is shooting just 29.8 percent this year. Opponents have been willing to concede three-point looks for Schroder, and he hasn’t been able to knock them down.
Perhaps as big a problem as the percentage is the volume. For most players, taking more three-point shots is a good thing. Even if a player shoots worse on threes, he’ll tend to be more efficient due to the extra point leaving more room for error.
But with Schroder, threes can be a sign of hovering around the perimeter and taking the first shot available to him. Last year, 22 percent of his attempts were from behind the three-point line. This year, that number has ballooned to 33 percent.
The Hawks have some players who excel as spot up shooters, but Schroder is not one of them. Opponents will gladly let him continue to shoot threes, as it negates the rest of his skills as a playmaker.
Schroder’s game against Boston worked in large part because he remained aggressive. Only four of his 15 shots were threes, and he continued to get into the lane. It helped that he had four steals and was able to get out in transition, but even when he can’t, he needs to be aggressive in the half court.
Atlanta desperately needs Schroder to provide punch off the bench, as the team isn’t as deep this year on the perimeter without DeMarre Carroll. If Schroder can take a step forward, he could add some punch and playmaking to a team that sorely needs it.