Donovan: Schroder, "He's Always Raised the Competitive Spirit of our Team"
When the Thunder acquired Dennis Schroder two-years ago, some (me) wondered if it was just a matter of time before Sam Presti used him for trade bait. After all, the Thunder had Russell Westbrook's backup the ever-steady Raymond Felton, plus Shroder had been a starter in Atlanta and just signed a four year 70-million dollar contract.
How happy could be in Oklahoma City? As it turns out, he can be pretty darn happy.
Schroder is flourishing in his second season with the Thunder and in line for the NBA's sixth man of the year award. His points, field goal, and three-point percentage are all above his career averages.
But, it's his willingness to come off the bench and play in Billy Donovan's three-headed monster at closing time that makes him so valuable to Oklahoma City. While Chris Paul is the Thunder's unquestioned locker room leader, Schroder is stepping up to have one of the most influential voices in the clubhouse and the floor.
Donovan says, "I think everybody would agree he is more than capable of being a starting point guard in the league." ..."And his unselfishness and putting the team first and willingness to come off the bench has been great."
Enough can't be said about Donovan choosing to put all three ballhandlers on the floor at the same time. The success can't be argued; according to John Schuhmann Gilgous-Alexander, Chris Paul and Schroder have played together 401 minutes this season and outscored their opponents by 268 points during that time.
Schuhmann out that the Thunder is 16-20 when trailing after the third quarter and that's still twice as many wins as any other team in the league when trailing after the third frame. Donovan says "The one thing I've always admired about Dennis is I think he's always raised the competitive spirit of our team."
Donovan is confident that Schroder will keep his competitive fire going when play resumes in August. The Thunder will get a chance to test themselves before then when they scrimmage the Celtics on July 24th.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.