OKC Thunder: Dennis Schröder’s unexpected defensive contribution

Dennis Schroder OKC Thunder (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dennis Schroder OKC Thunder (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Dennis Schroder, OKC Thunder (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images) /

When the OKC Thunder added Dennis Schröder they expected benefits, but the delightful surprise is his early defensive contributions.

OKC Thunder guard Dennis Schröder has been exactly what we expected him to be–an energetic, playmaking and scoring guard. But he’s also been something we didn’t expect: a good defender.

Dennis Schroder is not a name typically associated with great defense. He’s a slashing, clever guard who butters his bread by galloping past his defender for easy layups. When he can’t, he finds the teammate who can.

OKC Thunder fans didn’t think of Dennis Schröder as a good defender because he wasn’t. He was atrocious. If you looked at ESPN’s real plus-minus last year, you’d see Dennis Schröder a frog hair’s distance from the bottom of the list. He was 95th of 96 point guards.

Poor defense was always a part of Schröder’s play style. Cleaning the Glass’ Ben Falk summed it up:

Something has changed.

Schröder is now 25th in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus, ahead of known defensively strong guards such as Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, and Kris Dunn.

Schröder’s defensive rating is also up. Really up. Schröder currently has a defensive rating of 100.3, which is miles ahead of his rating last year, 110.8.

A defensive rating of 100.3 is really good.

For reference, here are the defensive ratings of 1st team all-defensive players last year:

Let’s dive in deeper to the defense to understand precisely where and why Schroder is offering unexpected benefits.