With LeBron James and Anthony Davis still out for the foreseeable future, a number of players have to step up to hold the Los Angeles Lakers over until their two stars are healthy.
While it has to be a team effort in their absence, a large portion of the burden undoubtedly falls on the shoulders of Dennis Schroder.
The point guard is now the primary creator for the Lakers in the absence of James, while also being relied upon to be the team’s best scorer as he is most capable of getting his own shot consistently. And his increased offensive role doesn’t take away from what the team needs from him defensively with him also setting the tone with his speed and aggression on that end of the floor as well.
While he has had his ups and downs in his first season with the Purple and Gold, Schroder has done everything he can to step up with the Lakers shorthanded and that has not gone unnoticed.
“His effort is inspiring and those types of plays,” head coach Frank Vogel said following the team’s 100-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “[Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] has plays like that, [Kyle Kuzma] had one tonight that got called for a foul. That’s the care factor that we play with here. That’s probably why we’re the No. 1 defense in the league.
“We make hustle plays in transition like that. That’s part of our culture. Dennis shows that he’s contributing to that.”
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Lakers and Schroder was undoubtedly the catalyst for the Lakers’ victory. His chase-down block on Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland was the standout defensive play on a night as the Lakers held Cleveland to just 35 second-half points.
Additionally, he had some outstanding assists including a between-the-legs dime to Montrezl Harrell.
But more than any numbers could do justice, Vogel truly appreciates the attitude that Schroder plays with. “He’s an emotional player and he brings it out on the court,” Vogel added. “He’s highly competitive and that’s just the way he plays.”
Vogel concluded that Schroder’s attitude and effort have resonated among the other players in the locker room as well.
“We have a lot of fighters on this team. All the guys that have been playing during this stretch. Even though we’ve struggled at times through small stretches in the last three-four games, the competitive spirit has been very high. Dennis is one of those, but I could say that about every player on our team.”
It’s no secret that Schroder’s name was involved in some trade rumors ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline, but he has not let that impact what he brings to the court. E
ven with a healthy James and Davis, but even more in their absence, someone has to set the tone and be the leader for this Lakers team. It is clear that Schroder has taken that responsibility on and while his numbers won’t always be great, his effort can’t be questioned.
Schroder offers candid comments about impending free agency
With Schroder now here for the rest of the season, eyes now turn towards his impending free agency this summer. The point guard is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and he was very open about his intentions in speaking to the media.
“I for sure want to be a Laker, but I still want to see my options,” Schroder noted. “After eight years, it’s my first time seeing what other clubs who have interest in me. It’s what I said, too, but nobody mentioned that on the media.
“Everybody is saying that I want to sign long-term with the Lakers, so end of the day, my last word on that is I want to see my options, but I want to be a Laker. So however y’all want to put it on Instagram, Twitter or whatever it is, that’s it.”
It is more than fair for Schroder to want to hit free agency for the first time and see his market. The Lakers can offer him the most money and reports are that they intend on re-signing him, but exactly what the future holds for these two sides won’t be known until the summer.
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