Following the All-Star break, Paul George and Dennis Schroder have struggled mightily causing headaches for OKC Thunder playoff push.
Since the turn of the All-Star break, the OKC Thunder have plugged to a 3-6 record including a season-long four-game losing streak. With the Western Conference jamming together, every game counts with OKC possessing one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league.
However, during this stretch, Paul George and Dennis Schroder have struggled mightily to find their offensive grooves.
PG13 missed three games with a sore right shoulder and hasn’t returned the same player he was pre-All Star break. Since returning from injury, PG13 is averaging 24 points, 8.3 rebounds and three assists on 31.3 percent shooting and 25 percent from three.
His best game in this stretch came against the Portland Trail Blazers where he posted 32 points, 14 rebounds and six assists on 7-23 shooting, 1-9 from three and 17-20 from the stripe.
While he has looked to score at the same aggressive pace he was prior to the AS break, many of his shots are either too short or too long suggesting he is out of synch. George needs to rediscover his touch and re-establish himself as the MVP candidate many believe he is this year.
Dennis Schroder, on the other hand, has been way off since his return.
Schroder is averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists on 34.6 percent shooting and w1.4 percent from three. The German has been getting to any spot he wants but appears to lack concentration when its time to finish. Additionally, the 25-year-old is taking a huge number of three’s without success. In his last outing against the Clippers, Schroder took 11 triples and landed only two in the loss.
The German’s impact is felt much more when he required to lead the second unit. He is the primary offensive focus and controls the tempo, acting as the floor general and primary scorer when PG13 and Russell Westbrook are off-court.
His greatest weakness is his ability to understand when to shoot and when to find others but as it stands, the German can’t throw a tic tac in the ocean.
What does this mean?
There is an obvious correlation between the team winning and losing. When both PG13 and Schroder are off, Westbrook is required to carry the offensive load. While the Brodie is averaging 32.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 7.6 assists in his last 10 games, Oklahoma City has gone 4-6 in that stretch.
Westbrook has been absolutely sensational but without others supporting him, OKC tends to flip flop between winning and losing if Russ is the primary scoring option. Many believe its the number
of shots he takes that dictates whether OKC wins and loses but its more dependant on how everyone else around him is playing. Westbrook has kept them afloat when PG13 and Schroder struggle so it appears to be a function of whether everyone else is contributing offensively.
In a congested Western Conference where teams are separated by six games or fewer, the struggles of PG13 and Schroder have seen the Thunder drop down to fourth behind the Houston Rockets. With the playoffs fast approaching, Oklahoma City needs to get back to the third spot and avoid the dreaded four-five seed match-up.
PG13 and Schroder need to figure it out quickly as the Thunder cannot afford to stay in this slump. As it stands, Westbrook appears to be the only one ready for the playoffs and we have seen that movie before.
He needs both PG13 and Schroder to be ready or else it will be much of the same.