Pelinka Describes The Schröder Acquisition

In a trade announced after Wednesday’s NBA Draft, the Lakers acquired 27-year-old guard Dennis Schröder from Oklahoma City, as Lakers VP of Basketall Operations Rob Pelinka looked to bolster LAL’s championship-winning roster going into the 2020-21 season that starts on Dec. 22.

“We’re really excited about adding Dennis to our core,” said Pelinka, who moved Danny Green and the No. 28 pick to acquire him. “I think if you look at the Bubble and what we were able to accomplish there in retrospect, one of the core identities of our team is I felt like we played incredibly tough, competitive, gritty, defensive-focused basketball. That’s really at the core of how Dennis plays.”

Schröder averaged 18.9 points, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds in his seventh NBA season, and second in OKC after five in Atlanta. The German international finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting after leading all bench players in scoring. Part of one of the NBA’s best statistical lineup* (Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams) with a net rating of 29.9, Schröder typically closed games and averaged 30.8 minutes per night.
*Minimum 20 games played.

“He gives us offensively another elite playmaker, both on the ball in a pick-and-roll situation and off the ball as a scorer,” said Pelinka. “He really just fits us perfectly. He’s been a player we’ve pursued not just in this trade deadline but before, we pursued him aggressively. But to finalize a transaction and bring him to the Lakers is satisfying.”

Schröder’s most obvious strength is his quickness off the dribble and the ensuing ability to explode past his man on drives. He attempted 33.9 percent of his shots within 10 feet of the rim last season, converting 56.0 percent. Overall, he had his best shooting season in 2019-20, with career highs from the field (46.9 percent) and from three (38.5 percent), including 41.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3’s, of which there should be plenty available when he plays alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Lakers will miss Green, a key two-way wing player, though Schröder shouldn’t be looked at as a direct replacement. The Lakers have much to do in free agency after they see which players pick up or decline their contract options for 2020-21, but this first move for Schröder shows how much L.A.’s front office valued what he can do.

“It’s hard to lose a player like Danny, he was an ultimate professional and really filled a great role for us and played well,” explained Pelinka. “But overall, we feel like this addition of a younger player to our core and for the future was something we couldn’t pass up.”

Schröder was selected at pick No. 17 in the 2013 Draft from the Phantoms Braunschweig club in his hometown of Braunschweig, Germany, when he was 20 years old. At 6’1’’, 173 pounds, Schröder will be the smallest Laker on the roster, yet he plays bigger than he looks thanks to his long reach and tenacity.

“Dennis is a player that other teams hate to play against, but his teammates love to play with, because he has that kind of nasty tenacity and grit, and that’s really at the center of how we play and how we win,” added Pelinka. “He really folds in perfectly to that.”

The most recent on-court action from Schröder came in Round 1 of a tightly-contested playoff series against Houston, who ultimately beat OKC in seven games to advance to face the Lakers. Schröder, who’s played in 46 career postseason games, was near the top of Houston’s scouting report as they struggled to contain his dribble penetration.

Schröder scored 29 points in Game 3, and 30 in Game 4, both wins, making 20 of 39 combined shots, six threes and 13 free throws, and totaling eight assists. His shot went awry in Games 6 and 7 with the Rockets increasingly focused upon him, and he finished with averages of 17.3 points, 3.7 boards and 3.6 assists. He led OKC in net rating for the series, at 4.0, with Nerlens Noel second (1.4), Darius Bazley third (0.0) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander fourth (-4.6).

As for how he’ll fit in with the rest of the roster? We’ll first have to see what Rob Pelinka and Co. do in the next few days, which will depend in part upon which players pick up their options, and which don’t.

“At the fundamental focus, we’d like to keep as much of our core players together to repeat as possible,” said Pelinka. “Continuity is incredibly important. One of our strongpoints in the Bubble was just part of the mental grind and challenges of playing away from family and friends was how we operated together. I think the team that came out of the Bubble with a trophy, in addition to having the right talent, also had the right chemistry to survive the Lord of the Flies experiences in the Bubble. We don’t take that lightly. This was a group of guys that fit, that worked together … but if there are opportunities to get better and to address needs like with Dennis, we’ll take advantage of those.”

The Lakers want to add good young players to the core for the future to sustain success, without sacrificing their ability to maximize the team’s ability to win now. As such, every decision they make tries to strike that balance between defending the championship and extending the winning window as far into the future as possible. They’ll have the chance to both retain key players from last season, and add new ones like Schröder.

“Our approach to free agency is to be aggressive,” explained Pelinka. “I think there are a handful of teams that hope to contend, and we’re not going to just sit back and not expect others to better their teams. We have to stay aggressive. The danger of winning is complacency, and we won’t allow that to creep in here. We’re going to try and continue to improve our team and put Coach Vogel and his staff in the best possible position to defend, and our owner Jeanie Buss has given us all the resources at hand to do that. So we’ll be aggressive in making sure that we increase that probability as high as we possibly can to get (championship) No. 18.”