Even if his number is more akin to an offensive lineman in the National Football League, #71 for the Boston Celtics has been balling lately.
Dennis Schroder, a first-time member of the C’s who was signed as a free agent this summer, has averaged 26.5 points over his last four games, including a 38-point show-stealer in an overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks last Friday.
His most recent appearance came in a 91-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, during which he put up 28 points.
So, with this great production from a new member of the roster, how could he possibly be a part of the issue? We discuss.
Dennis “the Starting Guard” Schroder
Dennis Schroder made waves at the start of the last season when the Los Angeles Lakers brought him in, stating that he was no longer interested in coming off of the bench; this immediately raised questions for Laker fans and general NBA critics, as the career role player was suggesting that he was a better fit at point guard than LeBron James.
Schroder’s time in Los Angeles ultimately ended with a first-round defeat to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Playoffs and a botched contract negotiation, eventually sending him to the New England area.
In Boston’s star-dominant system, there is not much room for players not named Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to stuff the stat sheet– Marcus Smart has already publicly condemned the pair’s selfishness, suggesting that other teams know what they want to do and can stop them with relative ease.
For a ball-dominant guard that likes to have the ball in his hands, this creates a stylistic conflict with Schroder’s game.
In Schroder’s defense, however, he is averaging 17.4 points and 5.4 assists per game, both of which would rank fourth-highest for season averages in his nine-year career. He is also averaging a career-high in minutes despite only starting seven of Boston’s 13 games, showing how heavily they have relied on him already.
By heavily featuring Schroder in the rotation, the Celtics have cut minutes for Payton Pritchard, a second-year guard from Oregon, lessening their defense ability and three-point prowess; Pritchard is a capable defender and shot an impressive 41.1% from three last season, while Schroder is at just 33.9% this year.
Boston’s dedication to the first-time Celtic also compounds their own internal issues, as Schroder is nothing more than a ball-stopping guard that looks to pass as a last resort.
His player efficiency rating of 16.40 currently ranks 95th in the Association and is not good enough to justify this style, especially for a team that is already working through its own issue of selfishness.
In games that Schroder has played 30+ minutes this season, Boston is 5-5, not far off of the trajectory of their 6-7 season; still, it is indicative that he has not been able to change their fortunes.
As is always the case, there are three options for the team when dealing with a player in Schroder’s position: first, they could use him to trade for pieces that would better fit their team. In particular, an unselfish guard that can defend and shoot threes.
Second, they could hold onto him and hope that the coaching staff is able to mold him into the rotation, or that Schroder himself can adapt to his new teammates. Third, they could cut bait and release him from his minuscule contract, though this is extremely unlikely, given his value on the trade market.
It is still far too early in the season to declare one option as more right than the other, though it is definitely a situation to monitor. Schroder’s motor can run hot, so if the team keeps losing or there are issues similar to the ones publicly expressed by Smart, then Schroder could feasibly end his season wearing a different jersey than the one he started in.