Celtics Add Experienced Playmaker, Scorer in Dennis Schroder
Quite a bit of pressure was lifted off the shoulders of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum Friday afternoon, as the Boston Celtics added another offensive weapon to the mix in signing veteran point guard Dennis Schroder.
The move came 11 full days after the start of free agency, but it was well worth the wait. Schroder was one of the best available players on the market, and he should settle into a significant scoring and playmaking role for a Celtics team that was in need of a player with such experience and skill.
The Celtics also added to their frontcourt depth Friday by bringing back veteran center Enes Kanter, who previously played for the team in 2019-20. On top of that, they filled one of their two-way spots with the addition of Summer League standout Max Hauser, a rookie wing who knocked down six 3-pointers in Thursday night's win over the Orlando Magic.
Schroder’s addition, along with that of Josh Richardson two weeks prior, should help fill the voids left behind by offseason departures Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker. Both new players pack a significant offensive punch, particularly Schroder, who boasts career averages of 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per game over the course of eight NBA seasons.
Schroder’s first five seasons were spent in Atlanta where he developed the reputation of being a scrappy competitor on both sides of the ball with a strong ability to make plays for himself and others. Celtics fans likely remember such tenacity out of Schroder from the many heated playoff battles they shared over the years. His final season in Atlanta in 2017-18 was his most impactful, as he averaged a career-best 19.4 PPG to go along with 6.2 APG, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 1.1 steals per game.
The Germany native then moved onto Oklahoma City, where he had the unique opportunity to back up two Hall-of-Fame-bound point guards in consecutive years – first with Russell Westbrook in 2018-19, and then with Chris Paul in 2019-20. He obtained such valuable experience while also being one of the most productive sixth men in the league. In fact, he led all bench scorers in 2019-20 with 18.4 PPG and finished second in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year voting behind winner Montrezl Harrell.
Prior to last season, Schroder was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he played alongside two more Hall-of-Fame-bound players in Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The big difference this time around was that Schroder got to live out the experience while serving as a starter. He averaged 15.4 PPG and 5.8 APG, finishing as the team’s third-leading scorer behind James and Davis, respectively, and as the second-leading assister behind James.
Schroder could find himself in a similar role this coming season, as he prepares to suit up alongside another pair of stars in Brown and Tatum. It’s been the intention of Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens to build around those two, and their new point guard should be a strong complementary piece.
Schroder is a shifty, speedy player on offense, who excels at driving to the basket. Last season, he averaged 13.3 drives per game, which would have placed him first on the Celtics in that category ahead of both Tatum (12.4) and Brown (10.5). He chose to pass on 42.9 percent of those drives, a trend which should bode well for Tatum and Brown who will likely be on the receiving end of many such kick-out dishes. And when he gets fouled on those drives, Schroder converts his free throws at an efficient 83.1 percent career clip.
The C’s should also benefit in landing Schroder while he is right in the prime of his career at 27 years old (turns 28 Sept. 15). Though, he’s been playing like a player in his prime since age 23 when he had his breakout season in Atlanta with averages of 17.9 PPG and a career-best 6.3 APG. Since the start of that season five years ago, Schroder is one of just 18 players in the NBA to average at least 17 PPG and 5 APG. The other 17 players on the list have all been All-Stars.
The Celtics aren’t necessarily asking Schroder to be an All-Star, but they do hope that he competes like one. And that should not be a problem considering what he wrote to Celtics fans on his Instagram story after reaching an agreement with Boston: “I’m proud to announce that for the 2021-22 season I’ll be playing with the Boston Celtics. This is one of the best franchises in NBA history and it will be a honour to put on the green and white and do what I love! I’m going out there every night and leaving it all on the floor for the city!! Who’s ready?!”
Celtics fans should be just as eager to welcome Schroder as he is to put on their beloved uniform. He is the extra scorer and playmaker that they need, he’s an experienced veteran who has played alongside numerous future Hall-of-Famers, and he is exactly the type of player that can complement both Brown and Tatum as they continue to ascend.