NBA Rumors: Dennis Schroder Expected To Be A ‘More Engaged Defender’ In OKC Thunder

Can the Thunder help Dennis Schroder unleash his full potential?

Dennis Schroder expected to improve defense in OKC
Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Can the Thunder help Dennis Schroder unleash his full potential?

With their decision to undergo a rebuilding process, the Atlanta Hawks decided to trade Dennis Schroder to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Carmelo Anthony and a 2022 protected first-round pick. The arrival of Jeremy Lin and Trae Young this offseason makes Schroder the odd man out in Atlanta. However, during the 2017-18 NBA season, the 24-year-old point guard has already been expressed his desire to leave and join a title contender.

The main reason why the Thunder pushed through with the deal was to get rid of Carmelo Anthony and his $27.9 million contract. However, according to Scott Rafferty of NBA.com, the Thunder may have also seen something in Dennis Schroder that could increase their chance of winning an NBA championship title next season.

“From a skill perspective, it’s easy to see why the Thunder are drawn to Schröder. While he’s only 6-foot-1, he makes up for being slightly undersized with his blazing speed and a massive 6-foot-7 wingspan. Few players are as quick as he is with the ball in his hands, both from a standstill and in the open court, which will give a team that is already one of the more athletic in the league a dynamic piece off the bench.”

Being a ball-dominant guard, Dennis Schroder is more likely to serve as the Thunder’s primary backup point guard than Russell Westbrook’s backcourt partner next season. Before the trade between the Hawks and the Thunder became official, Schroder reportedly talked to Thunder General Manager Sam Presti and Coach Billy Donovan and accepted his role to be OKC’s sixth man. With his ability to create his own shot in pick-and-rolls and in isolation, Schroder will be a great addition to the Thunder’s second unit.

In 67 games he played with the Hawks last season, Schroder averaged 19.4 points, 6.2 assists, and 1.1 assists on 43.6 percent shooting from the field. Now that he is playing for a contender, Rafferty believes Schroder will be a “more engaged defender.” While he is trying to improve his performance on the defensive end, the Thunder could hide his weakness by surrounding him with elite defenders like Paul George and Andre Roberson in the backcourt, and Steve Adams and Jerami Grant in the frontcourt.

Aside from his defense, Schroder should also improve his three-point shooting where he only averaged 29 percent last season. Showing a massive improvement in his game, especially in catch-and-shoot three-pointers, may convince Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan to try pairing him with Russell Westbrook next season.