Oklahoma City Thunder have been a staple team in the Western Conference for quality, consistent basketball. Whether it was in the era of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Westbrook and Kevin Durant or currently Westbrook and George, the Thunder have always been a solid team in the West who can beat anyone on any given night. However, they have never solidified themselves as a true title-winning team, that is until now as they have finally added a piece that was needed for years.
In the offseason, the Thunder made a very underrated trade, bringing Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder to OKC. This move went under the radar as most of the league was freaking about DeMarcus Cousins joining GSW. Anyway, no one appreciated that the trade was such a smart bit of business.
OKC have a very talented starting five as three of the five consists of Mr. Triple Double Russell Westbrook, Paul George and one of the most underappreciated centres, Steven Adams. They’ve not had the depth and bench to compete in the postseason against teams like Golden State and Houston, who have fantastic bench players. Schroder has changed that completely, giving OKC a solid scoring player who can come up against most benches in the league and command the game.
Schroder was always a good player back in Atlanta, especially in his final season where he was the star of the season for a pretty awful Hawks side. This season he has seen his minutes drop to an average of 28 and a half a night, however, he is averaging 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Pretty good stats, especially if you combine them with the stats of the stars on the team. The stat that really stands out is his free throw percentage, which is something OKC are really struggling with this season. Schroder has an 83.7 free throw percentage, something his other teammates need to work towards.
The most impressive thing about Schroder isn’t anything to do with stats, it’s the fact that Westbrook likes and trusts him whenever they are on the floor together. Westbrook has this stigma around him that he’s a bad teammate, but whenever an ex or current teammate speaks about Westbrook, they say he’s the best teammate you can have.
This is the same for Schroder. Westbrook always seems to find him when he’s is open, no matter if he’s driving to the rim or has enough space to throw up a three himself. This is the key thing to have when playing with Westbrook, the fact that you have his trust. Everyone knows that Westbrook plays for himself for the most part, however, that includes his nightly pursuit of 10 or more assists, so if you are in his good books, he will pass to you and you will get open looks.
It seems to me that Schroder has fitted in brilliantly with the team over in OKC and if he carries on putting the numbers he’s putting up right now, it’s hard to count OKC out of a deep run in the postseason, especially considering George has been on fire for the majority of the season. The interesting thing to see now is that Schroder will probably improve those numbers as the season goes on, so they could be heading into the postseason with a backup guard who is hitting 20+ points a night, something most teams do not possess.