The Los Angeles Lakers already struggled offensively in the absence of Anthony Davis, but when LeBron James went out with a high ankle sprain, those woes only exacerbated as much of the offensive burden landed on the shoulders of Dennis Schroder.
When James and Davis were healthy, Schroder’s role on offense typically lied as an off-ball shooter and slasher to the basket, so his per-game averages didn’t look too palatable.
However, an increased responsibility has pushed Schroder to create more not only for himself but for his teammates, as his speed and burst when attacking the basket can open up the court. In the eight games since James’ injury, Schroder is averaging 17.5 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 43% from the field and 40.7% from 3-point range.
While the superstar duo remains sidelined, the Lakers must tap into Schroder’s skillset as much as possible, and head coach Frank Vogel explained how the 27-year-old guard needs to leverage his unique arsenal to aid L.A.’s offense.
“I don’t want to put any numbers on it but we want him to be extremely assertive and make the right play, is the simplest way to put it,” Vogel said. “If he’s getting to the rim and beating the help before it comes and can put up 30 points, great. If he’s drawing a crowd every time he gets to the paint and finds people for extra passes like he did last night, he had eight assists and 13 potential assists, meaning passes to guys that missed the shot or got fouled, that generates high-quality shots for our offense and that’s what we want him to do.”
Despite a no-show offensive outing against the L.A. Clippers, the Lakers saw firsthand what making shots can do for the squad against the Sacramento Kings, especially with their 51.5% 3-point percentage that devastated Sacramento.
If the Lakers can replicate a similar level of production against future opponents, it may bode well to earn some much-needed wins amidst a tough stretch, especially with five games remaining in the current seven-game road trip.
Schroder said the formula against Sacramento could be key for the Lakers moving forward.
“We had a hell of a game in Sacramento,” Schroder said. “I think we played phenomenal defense and we just moved the ball. I always say when you play good defense and get stops … everybody else on the offensive end, we sharing, we’re running the floor and getting open threes. Playing good defense and turning it into offense. Make shots and everybody’s feeling good. I think that’s what it comes down to. Play defense, play together and we’ll be fine.”
Kuzma remains positive as injuries pile up for Lakers
The Lakers’ injury report is congested with pivotal rotational players: James, Davis, Andre Drummond and Wesley Matthews. Even Jared Dudley landed on the list with a knee injury.
Seeing the injuries mount could take a toll on the team’s morale, but forward Kyle Kuzma is remaining positive despite the number of injured players.
“No, I don’t think it feels mentally grinding,” Kuzma said. “Obviously, every game you see someone out. It’s like damn. You always want your teammates to be there and as individuals for the guys that are hurt you want to be available for your teammates, so it’s not good. Definitely not good.
“At the same time, these are the cards that we’re dealt. We got to figure it out for us. We’ve got to figure it out for us. We’ve got to figure it out for our coaching staff to put us in the right position and we’ve got to go out there and execute and do our jobs as well. We can’t have pity on it. Can’t have a pity party.”
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