On Wednesday night, the Atlanta Hawks played their final game of the NBA preseason and won’t touch the floor for game action until next Wednesday for the beginning of the 2013-2014 regular season. Last night’s game was and the one on Oct. 30 will be a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, but the Hawks are certainly hoping to be healthier as a team in a week.
In their 98-88 loss to the Mavericks in their preseason finale, the Hawks were missing quite a few of their key pieces in addition to resting a few as well. Gustavo Ayon was injured very early in the preseason and will be out for a couple of months, but fellow big men Paul Millsap and Al Horford were also sidelined with minor injuries. In addition, Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver were all out for non-injury reasons.
With all of these starters and big contributors for the Hawks out of action, that allowed a lot of their young players and deeper bench guys to get some run in. However, it was rookie Dennis Shcroeder, who has seen quite a bit of playing time this preseason, who shined for Atlanta.
Schoreder played a team-high 36 minutes against the Mavs and was solid in running the team. He finished the game with 21 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals while shooting a solid 8-12 from the floor and knocking down one of his two three-point attempts.
The rookie guard certainly wasn’t without his faults. The Hawks almost surely would have liked to see him get his assist numbers off and look more solid as a distributor in this game, but those are also things that he’s shown he’s capable of. In addition, Schroeder did turn the ball over seven times against Dallas, a number that’s much too high for the Hawks liking.
Looking to the regular season, the 20-year-old Schroeder figures to be the backup to Teague in Atlanta’s backcourt, which is certainly a large role for a young rookie. In that role, he’s going to be key for the Hawks. One of the most underrated roles in the NBA is the backup point guard spot. If your primary ball-handler and floor general for your second unit isn’t quality, you don’t have much of a chance at any real success. Subsequently, there will be a fair amount of weight on Schroeder’s young shoulders.
Despite the pressure that the rookie will be facing, I believe that he should find success in his first NBA season. This isn’t a youngster that has never experienced pro basketball before; Schroeder has been playing professionally in Germany since 2010. He also has a developed skill-set and a ton of workable tools to build upon. He’s a solid facilitator, has decent scoring ability, and is a tenacious, energetic and pesky defender on the other side of the ball.
Is Schroeder going to be in the Rookie of the Year race? My educated guess would be not even close. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s going to be in a vastly important role in Atlanta this season. If he plays to his potential, he should be able to put forth a quality effort in his first NBA season.