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#pounditTuesday, March 2, 2021

Grading the Lakers’ trade for Dennis Schroder from the Thunder

Dennis Schroder

The Los Angeles Lakers took a massive stride forward in their quest to repeat as NBA champions after agreeing to acquire Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder. A lightning-quick point-guard with the ability to stop on a dime and effortlessly elevate into his vastly improved jumper, Schroder has become one of the premier sparkplug scoring options in the NBA.

As Sam Presti and the Thunder look to stockpile future first-round picks, the return package of the 28th pick in this year’s notoriously weak draft class (Jaden McDaniels) plus the shell of Danny Green could be considered light for one of the best sixth men in the NBA. For Oklahoma City, the trade represents the seemingly long-overdue start to the rebuild many felt was inevitable after trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George last offseason. With just one year remaining on his contract, Green is an obvious candidate to be a part of a future deal as the Thunder continue to amass future assets.

Biggest Winner: Dennis Schroder

After playing the best basketball of his life this season with the Thunder, Schroder now has the chance to continue to redefine his narrative while playing on the biggest stage of his career. Once perceived as a player capable of putting up gaudy individual statistics without enhancing his team’s chance at winning, Schroder rounded out his game and became a far more balanced player this year. This improvement was due to his commitment to the defensive end of the court, while also exercising better judgment on his shot selection offensively.

Despite mid-range shots falling out of vogue around the league due to the rise of the analytic movement, Schroder and the Thunder proved there’s still tremendous value to be had in such shots. As a team, Oklahoma City shot the highest percentage on mid-range jumpers this season at 46.9 percent. Their 464 made representing the fifth-highest total in the league. Schroder finished in the 97th percentile for guards on long mid-range jumpers attempted (jump shots taken past the free-throw line but in front of the 3-point line) while converting on a very efficient 46.8 percent of them.

For as good as Schroder was offensively this season, his improvements as a defender were arguably more paramount for his progression as a player. Despite only standing 6-foot-1, Schroder was frequently utilized to guard larger players thanks to his 6-foot-8 wingspan. One of the best plays from Schroder’s season perfectly highlights that newfound defensive intensity.

Schroder started that play on Marcus Smart, but once he saw Kemba Walker turn back towards his own baseline, he immediately brought the double team. In an instant, Walker found himself in a position no ball-handler wants to be in, trapped between Schroder and Chris Paul. Schroder then relied on his long-reach to cleanly swipe the ball from Walker and glide in for the easy game-sealing lay-up.

Oklahoma City displayed an uncanny ability to win seemingly impossible games all season, with Schroder’s fingerprints all over some of the team’s most memorable plays. With a sixth-man extraordinaire capable of delivering moments like the play below, the defending champs are going to be even tougher next season.

Trade Grades:
Los Angeles Lakers: A
Oklahoma City Thunder: C

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