Under The Radar; Dennis Schröder’s Incredible Playoff Performance

Photo Credit_ USA TODAY Sports

Under The Radar; Dennis Schröder’s Incredible Playoff Performance

 

The Atlanta Hawks lost their first round playoff matchup against the Washington Wizards, but Hawks point guard Dennis Schröder played the series of his life. Still only 23 years old, it was his first playoff experience as starting point guard, a role he occupied after Jeff Teague was traded to Indiana.

He was very decent in his first NBA year as a starter, averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 45.1% from the field and 85.5% from the line.

Dennis showed the world why journalists already compared him to Rajon Rondo in earlier stages of his career, the ‘athelticism’, the ‘court vision’, the ‘ability to always find an open man’. While his passing ability certainly is not on Rondo’s level, Schröder has developed a shot superior to Rondo’s.

In the playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Schröder took things to a whole new level. He went face-to-face with the Wizards’ All-Star point guard John Wall, and Schröder did not dissapoint.

He averaged 24.4 points, 7.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds and only 1.6 turnovers while shooting 45.7% from the field, 43.8% from 3, and 82.8% from the line. He was keeping the Hawks in that series by himself at times. Schröder seems to develop into a great player more and more.

But for many NBA fans he still is a blank slate, a dark horse! Who is this kid from Germany? What’s his story you ask?

To this day, Basketball in Germany still is a fringe sport – basically every sports besides soccer/football is. If you are a kid growing up in Germany, it is most likely that you will start playing soccer, before even thinking about other sports. It was the same way with Schröder. When he was young, he usually was playing soccer with his friends, or he was trying out new tricks on his skateboard. They rarely played basketball, and even then, they shot with a (misused) soccerball. It very well could have been that no one, not even Schröder himself, would have known about his basketball talents, if it wasn’t for Liviu Calin.

Liviu Calin is a basketball coach who walked past a streetball court Schröder and his friends were playing on. He stopped and watched for a little while and quickly recognized the talent Schröder had. The explosivness, the speed and a general understanding on how the game should be played had already been there. Calin convinced him to go sign up for the basketball youth team he was coaching and to come to practice. He did! When Schröder didn’t have team practice, he practiced alone with Calin in the school gymnasium, up to seven days a week. Dennis was a quick learner and began to understand the role of a point guard in almost no time. Every offensive play was ran through him, every important shot was taken by him, he was the team’s star player, the only one who was incredibly talented. Although this unfortunately lead to him becoming sloppy, selfish and arrogant. He knew the others could not hold a candle to him. In his eyes, they played too poorly to pass the ball to, so he kept the ball and created his own shot or drove to the basket. Schröder stopped taking practice seriously, showed up too late, or didn’t show up at all. He wanted to decide for himself when and where to play basketball.

Axel Schröder, Dennis’ father, always encouraged him to practice. He was the one who always told him that he will make it into the NBA one day. He didn’t just say it, he believed it, he knew it. Dennis wasn’t self-confident enough and did not believe him. His father supported him, day in, day out, exorting him not to waste his talent – advising him to take basketball serious, without being heard by Dennis at all times. At age 47, Axel Schröder had a heart attack and passed away. Dennis was only 16 and his father’s death changed him and his mentality. Not long before his father died, Dennis promised him that he will make it, that he will become a pro. Dennis took up his promise and worked harder than ever. He stopped being immature, started to respect the other players, was the first to come and the last to leave practice and shot hundreds of shots every day.

He made it into the German pro league (BBL), the national team and eventually the NBA, the rest of the story has yet to be written. If he continues to improve as he has, he will become a star in the league. For those who haven’t heard too much about him, remember the name. Dennis Schröder – future NBA All Star!

 

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