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Schroder Represents Future For Atlanta Hawks
Posted By Lang Greene On October 3, 2013 @ 5:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Atlanta Hawks entered the offseason with an abundance of salary cap space and the goal of luring All-Stars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard into town. However, Paul opted to remain in Los Angeles and Howard decided to sign in Houston after briefly considering the Hawks during the free agency process.
Since then, the talk in Atlanta has largely been about the team’s marquee misses during free agency. However, in doing so, those observers may be overlooking a potential diamond in the rough that the club scooped in June’s draft.
The Hawks selected promising point guard Dennis Schroder with the No. 17 overall pick in this year’s draft. As training camp picks up steam, the rookie guard has made a solid first impression on veterans Elton Brand and Lou Williams – two players who have been around great talent. Both rave about Schroder’s poise and defensive prowess and each predict a very bright future.
“There’s not a lot we have to tell Dennis,” Williams said during the team’s media day. “I think he just has to adjust to the way we play here. He’s a hack. He likes fouling. He’s very aggressive on defense and in this league it could be quite challenging to play that style of defense. A lot of his learning will be on the fly.
“I don’t think he’s going to have a lot of 20-year-old bumps in the road. He’s played professional basketball. He’s not scared of anything and I think that is one thing that’s going to benefit him. We’ve had conversations where he’s ready to play against the top guards in the league and he looks forward to it.”
Brand believes expecting Schroder to carry a huge load as a rookie might be a stretch, but admits he was quickly made a believer on the defensive comparisons between Schroder and Boston Celtics All-Star guard Rajon Rondo.
“The point guard spot is the toughest to learn as a rookie and be a leader out there,” Brand said. “But he has all of the intangibles. He has all the potential. He has all the skill.
“His defense is amazing. When he picks up full court it’s uncanny. I said you can’t compare a young guy to Rondo; [I said] maybe he just has long arms like Rondo. But no, I see where the comparisons are defensively.”
Schroder, 20, played professionally in Germany the past two seasons. In 2013, he was named the league’s Most Improved Player and Best Young German Player after averaging 12 points, three assists and two rebounds per game for Phantoms Braunschweig.
It is this professional experience that makes the veterans believe he’s ready to play from day one.
Williams entered the league in 2005, directly out of high school. Williams believes the fact Schroder has been playing against men puts him ahead of the curve compared to when he entered the league after a storied prep career.
“It’s so early in the process I really haven’t had an opportunity to really talk to him,” Williams said. “But I think he’s ahead of the learning curve. He’s extremely talented and he’s already played at a professional level, so this isn’t his first rodeo. I think that’s the difference between him and me. When I came [into the league], I was fresh out of high school but he’s been playing professional basketball for quite a while.”
The Hawks’ training camp roster stands at 20. Vying for point guard minutes are Jeff Teague, Schroder, Royal Ivey, Shelvin Mack and Jared Cunningham.
Teague will undoubtedly top the depth chart as the team’s starter, but if Schroder has a strong camp he could emerge as the team’s lead guard off the bench.
Schroder believes playing with Teague will only make him better and he has already started picking the four-year veteran’s brain to pick up additional pointers.
“I think I can learn from him,” Schroder told HOOPSWORLD on his relationship with Teague. “He’s been in the league for a while so he can teach me things. I think he’s a very good player and to play against him every day will make me better.”
For now, Schroder has his sights firmly set on consistently breaking the team’s nightly rotation as a rookie. The rookie says head coach Mike Budenholzer gave him the blueprint to achieve this goal.
“He’s talked to me a lot,” Schroder says of Budenholzer since being drafted. “He tells me to try to earn it, practice every day hard and try to get better so I can help the team.
“I’m very excited about the process. I’m trying to get to know my teammates better, getting to practice with them and trying to win games during the season.”
The Hawks open the season October 30 on the road versus the Dallas Mavericks.
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