Mar 5, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder (17) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the second quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schröder Leads Germany To EuroBasket

The majority of the talk surrounding international basketball at the moment is focused on the countdown to the FIBA World Cup, now only two days away, but it isn’t the only international play taking place. For the national teams in Europe who are set to miss out on the World Cup, their focus has already shifted to qualifying for next summer’s EuroBasket.

One team that has secured its spot in the tournament is Germany, thanks in large part to the contribution of Dennis Schröder.

As most of Schröder’s Atlanta Hawks teammates have been busy preparing for the new season stateside, the 20-year-old has been a key player in Germany’s high stakes qualification campaign. Germany found themselves battling it out in qualification for the competition with other countries with strong basketball heritage, such as Russia, Poland and Italy.

Despite twice losing to Poland, the Germans did enough to secure their place and Schröder played a significant part in that.

After a first NBA season that saw the young German struggle for the most part, the Atlanta Hawks fans and coaching staff alike, will be very eager to see signs of improvement from Schröder in the coming season. The question with Schröder isn’t whether he’s talented enough though, it’s much more a matter of can he conquer the mental side of his game.

The keys for Schröder are to become more composed, controlled and disciplined, which may take some time.

To develop, more than anything else, Schröder needs minutes. The only problem with that is, that a coach will only trust him as such if he can be sure that Schröder’s presence won’t hurt the team.

That was the conundrum for Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer last season, and in the end it was the reason Schröder found himself sitting on the bench more often than not.

To put all of this into context, with Schröder on the court, Atlanta was 16.2 points worse off than the opposition per 100 possessions. Compare this to the figures when the 20-year-old was off the court, and we see that the Hawks were 2.3 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions.

That’s a pretty stark contrast, and although it’s not quite as simple as that, it gives a general impression of the impact that Schröder had for Atlanta last season.

It might seem harsh, but the reality is that Schröder cost the team points more often than not. Why did that happen? Well, unfortunately for Schröder his biggest weakness is currently his tendency to turn the ball over.

The German turned the ball over 1.2 times per game, which translates to 3.4 turnovers per 36 minutes. As talented a passer as he is, unless he can get his playmaking under control, it will be difficult for him to succeed in the NBA.

Judging from his recent play with Germany, turnovers are still an issue as Schröder averaged 3.3 per game in EuroBasket qualification. Otherwise, there’s a lot of positive signs from the German’s recent play though.

As a key figure and floor general within the German squad, Schröder has stepped up his production in a variety of ways, helping to ensure the team’s qualification.

In six games, Schröder has averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.8 rebounds in 24.5 minutes a game. That’s not to mention his truly impressive shooting numbers.

Schröder has made 57.1 percent of his field goal attempts, including an average of 43.5 percent from 3-point range. Although he showed brief flashes of it last season, if Schröder can maintain consistent long range shooting, it would be a significant positive for the Hawks.

One of the most used words in relation to Dennis Schröder when he was drafted, and in the time since, has been “raw.” It’s still valid today also, as Schröder is incredibly raw, and in reality, we’re still dealing with potential as opposed to a finished product.

At only 20 years old, he is incredibly young, and it’s important that he is viewed with patience.

Currently, Schröder’s game has a couple of glaring flaws, but we have no way of knowing that they won’t disappear with time. Playing against high level competition, under pressure, as he has been doing with Germany, and will do again with the Hawks, is what’s most important for his development.

Considering how he’s played in the last couple of weeks with Germany, there should be cautious optimism in Atlanta.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Dennis Schroder Eurobasket Germany Basketball

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