OKC Thunder Dennis Schroder No. 80 on Sports Illustrated Top 100 list

Dennis Schroeder, OKC Thunder, (Photo by Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Dennis Schroeder, OKC Thunder, (Photo by Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder newest backcourt talent Dennis Schroeder is the first of the team to land on Sports Illustrated Top 100 list at number 80.

It’s almost a rite of passage at this point That moment in the NBA offseason when Sports Illustrated writers  Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney teasingly release their top 100 best players in the NBA. The first OKC Thunder player to earn his way onto the esteemed list is Dennis Schroeder.

This is a repeat performance for the German who landed on the 2018 list as well. Although he slips to number 80 after ranking 76 in 2018. Despite a solid season in 2019 with demonstrated improvements Schroder has specific elements working against him. For one, when you’re the ‘go to guy’ representing a team without much depth or developing youthful assets in mid rebuild, your number is going to get called and called often.

In the former Hawks case that meant he was given free reign to act as the primary playmaker, ball distributor and scorer. Last season Schroder achieved per game averages of 19.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.1 steals in 67 games.

Per Game Table

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/16/2018.

Impressive statistics for a reserve guard let alone a starting point guard. But, as Mahoney cleverly points out Schroder’s success last season isn’t necessarily a harbinger for repeated and continued results. Developing teams in “the process” (as the 76ers so famously dubbed this precise situation) will suffer growing pains, plenty of losses and take more steps back than forward.

Subsequently Mahoney had more questions than accolades:

"This is emblematic of larger concerns. We know Schröder can beat his man off the dribble and score, but can he bring an offense to balance? Does his passing make his teammates better? Can his length and quickness translate to real defensive benefit? The jury is still out, even within the league. It means something that Schröder is capable of producing at this level, though that “something” varies wildly depending on case and circumstance."

Taking it in stride – grab the role, not the accolades:

For a player of Schroder’s talent and upside being stuck in a situation where losses are the norm, the initial euphoria over personal achievements wears off quickly. Worse, all those losses can play havoc on a players confidence and demeanor. The point guard who once longed to run a team, got his wish. However, with a slow transition back to being competitive the losses took a toll on his psyche.

More from Thunderous Intentions

He arrives in OKC wan a new lease on life and a specific role to be filled. Upon news of the trade OKC’s  new backcourt player noted he’s watched endless amounts of “Russ film” and ‘The Brodie’ is his favorite NBA Player.

With Westbrook out due to arthroscopic knee surgery Schroder will get a trial by fire introduction to the OKC Thunder. That said, Billy Donovan and the OKC Thunder won’t need  Schroder to emulate Russ. Rather, the brain trust are hoping he can transition quickly into the Thunder lineup and offensive system. Moreover, as Thunderous Intentions examined earlier this week, the absence of Westbrook offers a window of opportunity for him to fast track the chemistry development between Schroder and Paul George.

This particular relationship is key given George often plays alongside reserves. And, aside from perimeter scoring the one gaping weakness in the Thunder’s game is finding a reserve unit who can maintain a lead and be more competitive than recent years.

Next. 3 reasons why Dennis Schroder raises roster’s ceiling. dark

Although players tend to take exception with critical assessments the smarter ones utilize these criticisms for ways to motivate themselves. For Dennis Schroder having a career season and dropping four places is one. But, being a part of a winning club should be the true motivator.