Is that… could it be? The familiar, yet all too rare feeling of optimism creeping into my mental state?
No, Schroder is not the big fish that’ll dramatically change the Celtics fortunes by himself. Until today I realized I’ve been spelling his last name wrong. But by his mere existence, providing his contributes positively, is a major net gain for a team I believed to be thin once Evan Fournier inked his contract to the Knicks about a week ago.
After Fournier was no longer an option Boston’s main five seemed to be Smart – Richardson – Jaylen – Jayson – Horford, their sixth man being Robert Williams. Boston faced a potential roster crisis similar to last season where two of their best players play the center position leading to no better option but to trot out the dreaded double-big lineup. In my opinion the double-big lineup was fine on small doses; Williams and former teammate Daniel Theis did well together, but it isn’t a formula you want to rely on when playing Brooklyn. Opposing teams typically launch three-bombs and make them at an extraordinary clip thanks in part to God hating the Celtics. With the double-big lineups minimized that weakness hopefully vanishes.
We’ve all heard the story about Schroder and told our fair share of jokes. Not even twelve months ago he was Laker’s GM Rob Pelinka’s greatest find in free agency. Before playing a game for the purple and gold the team believed in him so much they wanted to preemptively sign him to an extension worth $84 million, roughly over $20 million per season. He turned it down, either due to his agent or himself believing there was more capital to be extracted from the market, and saw his value plummet as the Lakers lost LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the majority of the season to injuries.
From the promising 2019-20 campaign in Oklahoma in where he shot 46/38/83 splits to the dregs of a 43/33/84 Schroder, in the most simplest way I can put this, made a mistake and lost a lot of money. Boston is his best chance to recoup his lost capital and re-enter free agency the next season where either Boston will retain him if Beal doesn’t sign or elsewhere.
Why he didn’t work in L.A could also be chalked up to he didn’t fit next to LeBron. Someone who needs the ball in his hands, but isn’t an elite scorer to deserve the needed shot attempts doesn’t usually work well next to the equally ball-dominate James. I’m aware it is contradictory to say the stats for Schroder are better with LeBron out of the picture than with him in, it also tells the story that maybe he wasn’t a good fit in L.A and in Boston with more pass friendly players like Tatum and Jaylen he’ll flourish.
Thirty-Six games with LeBron: 11.9 FGA, 43.7 fg%, 3.2 3PA, 31.6 3P%, 4.1 FTA, 82.9 ft%, 14.8 pts, 4.7 ast, 3.4 reb.
Following March 20th, when LeBron started coming in and out of the lineup: 13.3 FGA, 44.4 fg%, 4 3PA, 37 3P%, 3.6 FTA, 87.8 ft%, 16.4 pts, 7.6 ast, 3.3 reb.
Schroder is a fine playmaker, a decent defender and the best off the bench shooter this teams had (not counting the Covid stricken Fournier) since James Posey. For the first time since 2018 the Celtics field of a team predominantly of actual basketball players. By my count they have seven reliable bodies, potentially that can be upped to nine or even eleven; Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford and Yam Madar looking mighty fine first two Summer League games. I know Summer League success rarely translates to the regular season, I fondly remember the fantastic summer campaigns of Carsen Edwards and R.J Hunter BUT THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT.
Last season, besides the whole covid-19 issue, Boston possessed merely three good non-center players which crunched the roster significantly. Now the talent is evenly distributed between the guards, wings and bigs. Truly this hasn’t been seen since 2018 and the only reason nobody remembers how stacked that roster was is because that season was defined by their injuries. But look take a gander at the 2017-18 team and weep if you’re a Celtics fan wanting to reminisce at what was robbed from you.
Before today I did worry about where that extra scoring threat would emerge, crossing my fingers Romeo or Nesmith would take that leap, with Schroder the need becomes less apparent.
I’ve heard for years how the Celtics need to bring back Rajon Rondo. For what it’s worth: Schroder’s initial claim to fame was being nicknamed the “German Rondo.”