Atlanta Hawks rising star Dennis Schroder played a big part in helping the team win a franchise-record 60 games last season. As a result, the third-year point guard wants to take on increased responsibilities this season.
My goal is to start as point guard. If this doesn’t happen, I will look for other opportunities. The Hawks are a great team, the city is nice and everything is perfect now. Teague? He was an All-Star and he helped me a lot. I must be patient and work hard and eventually I’ll have my opportunities.
Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer currently has a good problem on his roster. Schroder is just 22 years old and averaged 10 points and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 35.1 percent from three-point range in 19.7 minutes per game last season.
Those numbers were in support of Jeff Teague, who averaged 15.9 points and seven assists per game and ranked seventh among all qualified point guards in ESPN.com's Player Efficiency Rating (20.64) last season.
It's because of the depth, especially at point guard, that the Hawks became a breakout franchise last season with high expectations again in 2015-16.
Cory McCartney of Fox Sports South noted last March how valuable the duo of Teague and Schroder had become for the Hawks:
Through Wednesday's win over the Magic, the guards have teamed for 188 minutes, and while they a net rating that's barely into the positives at 0.3 (plus-minus rating), that figure alone doesn't do them justice.
Since the All-Star break they have combined to score in double figures in the same game eight times, punctuated by 41-point/14-assist performance on March 3 vs. the Rockets in which Teague had 25 points and Schroder supplied eight assists.
Schroder's hopes for an expanded role may need to wait a little longer, as Teague is under contract to the Hawks through 2016-17 at $8 million per season.
Compounding the issue is Schroder's contract, which has a team option next season valued at $2.7 million and a qualifying offer in two years valued at $3.8 million.
To Schroder's credit, he doesn't try to create a controversy or suggest that he will demand a trade unless he is playing more. Budenholzer knows what he has with these two terrific guards in a guard-dominated sport, and he will make sure both players get their touches.
It may not be exactly the scenario that Schroder wants to play in, but a lot of great players have had success coming off of the bench. Manu Ginobili has spent most of his career as a sixth man in San Antonio, which seems to have worked out well for him and the team.