Dennis Schroder’s superb play as the first man off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season has him amongst Sixth Man of the Year favorites.
To dethrone the current back-to-back recipient of the trophy, Lou Williams, whose name has all but become synonymous with the award, you’re going to have to compile sufficient evidence in your case. Fortunately, Schroder has done exactly that.
His base stats are impressive: 19.3 points (league-best amongst bench players), 3.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on rather efficient splits of .474/.388/.835. His true shooting percentage of 57.8 percent is a career-high by a significant margin, and he’s been at his best during clutch time—the final five minutes of regulation or OT with the point differential within five points—where he’s scored a total of 59 points on 52.6 percent shooting.
He shook off early-season jitters and rust with electric play that has played a crucial role in the Thunder’s rise in the Western Conference. For that, yeah, he deserves recognition and acknowledgment amongst the premier bench players in the league.
To provide a little perspective on how he compares against the standard, aka Lou Will, here’s an illustration of each player’s base production.
Dennis Schroder‘s 2019/20 campaign:
Lou Williams‘ 2019/20 campaign:
Though this shouldn’t act as the sole measuring stick between the two players, it provides a little insight into how well Schroder has played up to this point.
Williams may represent the most formidable opponent to regain the title as Sixth Man of the Year and complete the three-peat, but he’s not the only player that Schroder has to worry about.
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Derrick Rose‘s second career as a sixth man is still flourishing in the Motor City; Donte DiVincenzo is emerging amongst the ranks; Montrezl Harrell, Williams’ teammate in Clipper land, is terrorizing opposing second units; Dwight Howard is enjoying a career renaissance donning the purple and gold (for a second time) as a Los Angeles Laker; George Hill and Davis Bertans are perimeter flamethrowers off the bench, and Buddy Hield has suddenly joined the conversation.
To fully articulate the gravity of the race, you could probably dedicate an hour-long podcast debating who should take home the hardware, and that still probably wouldn’t be enough…this race is going to be fun.
Since December, Schroder is averaging 22.0 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting. With no signs of slowing down and himself getting more and more comfortable operating in three-guard lineups or by himself as a primary ball-handler, his case won’t be denied. Also, he has the power of a strong narrative by his side—which the NBA just absolutely adores.
The Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t supposed to be good this season. Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari weren’t supposed to be on the team past the trade deadline, or Steven Adams, yet here they are—this collective band of misfits that have meshed together under the tutelage of Billy Donovan. They are a feel-good story this season, and Schroder’s efforts as their sixth man have played a crucial role in their success.
This is just another race that’s going to be enjoyable to track to the finish line, so buckle up. If you’re a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder or the 26-year-old German native, you should be confident that he’ll finish amongst the finalists for the 2019/20 Sixth Man of the Year award.