Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schröder must improve

Last night the Hawks resigned back-up point guard Shelvin Mack. Mack started last season third in the depth chart for point guards behind starter Jeff Teague and then-rookie Dennis Schröder.

Schröder was drafted 17th overall and had some high expectations entering the 2013 season. There was a lot of hype surrounding Schröder as many compared him to Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo, even calling him “the European Rondo.”

Mack moved into the back-up point guard role after Schröder struggled early. Coach Mike Budenholzer grew frustrated with Schröder as he had a hard time securing the ball. Schröder averaged 1.6 turnovers per game in the first two months of the season while only logging 13.9 minutes per game. He also had 2.5 assists per game and scored 3.7 points per game.

This poor performance led to a demotion to the D-League for Schröder. Once he returned, right before Christmas, playing time was hard for him to earn. From December 20 to January 20, Schröder only logged 46 minutes of floor time.

Schröder caught a break and earned himself a more consistent spot in Atlanta’s rotation as the struggling Lou Williams fell out of favor with coach Budenholzer.

Over this stretch Schröder flashed his talents at times and every scout, fan, opposing player and coach could see why there was so much hype around him.

Following a first round exit by the Hawks in last year’s playoffs, decisions had to be made. The Hawks needed to resign or make a qualifying offer to Mack in order to keep him or they could choose to hand over the back-up point guard keys to Schröder.

Atlanta decided to resign Mack yesterday. But why aren’t they comfortable with Schröder after his summer league performance?

Schröder led the Hawks in scoring at 15.7 PPG and averaged 3.8 RPG with 3.3 APG. Overall these are good numbers in a small six game sample, and the numbers show that Schröder is developing.

But these numbers weren’t enough for Atlanta.

In a system that focuses around ball movement and limiting turnovers, one stat seems to be more important to coach Budenholzer and general manager Danny Ferry. That stat is turnovers per game (TPG).

In six summer league games, Schröder turned the ball over 27 times (4.5 TPG), including 14 in a two game span.

When Schröder steps on the court you can see his potential, but he’s just not polished enough yet. He has to work on cutting down on his turnovers, and quite frankly, his ego.

To be fair he’s just a kid, as he is only 20 years old.

Once regarded as the point guard of the future, if he doesn’t improve he could see himself used as a trade chip as early as this season. A realistic goal for Schröder this season is to overtake the back-up point guard position by the end of the season.

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