The Celtics offseason is filled with questions. Will Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett return? How will Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger recover their respective injuries? Will Danny Ainge decide to retool or rebuild? The fact that the C’s will be picking 16th in June’s NBA Draft remains the one certainty amidst their summer chaos. However, given the number of directions that their offseason could take, the type of player that Boston will select remains unclear. One possibility – should the Celtics decide to rebuild and explore trading Rondo – is that they will select a point guard. If the Celtics decide that this is how they will move forward, perhaps the first person they will look at will be German point guard Dennis Schröder.
Schröder is an extremely intriguing prospect to the Celtics, as well as the rest of the league, thanks in large part to his incredible athletic ability. Like Rondo, Schröder is a relatively small guard (6’2”) with big hands and an enormous wingspan (6’8”). In addition, Schröder possesses both tremendous speed in the open court and a lightning quick first step. While he certainly needs to get stronger and add some weight (he currently weighs only 165 pounds), Schröder’s other athletic abilities should help him compensate for his slight frame as they have for other point guards, including Rondo.
Schröder’s athleticism most clearly manifests itself when he is pushing the ball in the open court. Thanks to his excellent speed, Schröder is often able to beat the defense down the floor and create easy scoring opportunities both for himself and for his teammates. In the half court, Schröder’s quick first step and outstanding ball-handling skills allow him to get into the lane with ease.
Schröder also has solid court vision and passing ability, two essential traits for any NBA point guard. Those two attributes, when combined with his superb athleticism, give Schröder the ability to create a number of easy baskets for his teammates every game, something that the Celtics desperately missed after Rondo tore his ACL. While Schröder does have to work hard on his decision making (he’s fairly turnover prone) and on making sure that he actually uses his playmaking skills (despite his passing abilities, Schröder is often criticized for being a shot-first point guard), the fact that he is only 19 and clearly still developing means that he is likely to improve on these aspects of the game.
The one aspect of the game where Schröder really distinguishes himself from Rondo is perimeter shooting. Schröder shot very well during his week in Portland for last month’s Nike Hoops Summit. While that sample size is fairly small, his 40% shooting from the 3-point line and 53% shooting on catch and shoot jumpers during the German regular season demonstrate how effective of a perimeter shooter Schröder really is. Additionally, Schröder showed in Portland that his pull-up jumper has become an effective tool for him when defenses go under ball screens.
One area where Schröder needs to improve, perhaps more than any other, is in his finishing around the basket. Schröder shot only 44% on 2-point field goal attempts this season in Germany, largely due to his struggles at the rim. This is a problem that Rondo has also dealt with in the NBA, and perhaps putting on weight will help Schröder finish through contact and thus boost his efficiency in the paint.
On the defensive end of the floor, Schröder’s quickness and length make him a pesky and effective on-ball defender. While bigger point guards might be able to body him, imagining the full-court pressure that a Schröder/Bradley would be able to put on opposing backcourts is certainly intriguing. And while it is on the offensive end that the Celtics need the most help, Ainge and Doc Rivers will certainly welcome Schröder’s defensive abilities, irrespective of how the rest of the roster looks.
To see Schröder for yourself, check out this video.