The Oklahoma City Thunder may have lost Carmelo Anthony this summer, but most people expect them to become a better team in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. By trading Anthony, the Thunder have managed to save a huge amount of money. They also acquired a player who can help them become a more competitive team. Dennis Schroder is expected to boost the Thunder’s second unit, serving as their primary backup for Russell Westbrook.
However, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Thunder may consider giving Dennis Schroder a bigger role next season. O’Connor suggested that the Thunder could use Schroder as Westbrook’s new starting backcourt partner.
“I often wake up wondering if this is the day Russell Westbrook finally realizes his off-ball potential on the Thunder. There is nothing more imperative for the Thunder organization than ensuring Westbrook’s prime years are maximized, and to make that happen, he needs to sacrifice some on-ball responsibility. It’s been three straight offseasons of wishful thinking — I’m like a broken record at this point. Westbrook is a superstar, but even superstars can get better by adjusting their roles to accommodate their teammates.”
Most people will definitely have a hard time imagining how the backcourt tandem of Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder will work for the Thunder. Aside from being a ball-dominant player like Westbrook, Schroder is not an improvement for Andre Roberson when it comes to three-pointing shooting and defense. However, as O’Connor noted, using Schroder as the Thunder’s lead playmaker could help Westbrook increase his scoring efficiency as it will allow him to have more open looks on the offensive end of the floor.
Based on their performance in the previous seasons, the Thunder’s net rating has been outstanding when Russell Westbrook was playing alongside another point guard. Last season, when he shared the floor with Raymond Felton, the Thunder had a net rating of 6.7, and Westbrook averaged an additional 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. According to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, the Thunder superstar also found success playing with other point guards like D.J. Augustin, Reggie Jackson, and Derek Fisher.
As of now, it remains questionable if Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan will consider inserting Dennis Schroder in their starting lineup and play Russell Westbrook off the ball. The Thunder will definitely not lose anything by trying the Westbrook-Schroder experiment. If it will not work, the Thunder could simply return to their original plan with Roberson as their starting shooting guard and Schroder as their primary backup point guard. However, if it works, it could greatly help the Thunder make a huge impact in the deep Western Conference next season.