The Los Angeles Lakers have officially completed their trade for Dennis Schröder, the team announced after the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday. The Lakers could not consummate their trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder until after the 2020 NBA Draft because the deal included their first-round pick, which they also traded last year (NBA teams cannot trade future picks in consecutive drafts).
Along with Jaden McDaniels — who was taken with that pick — the Lakers will send Danny Green to the Thunder as part of the deal. And while Green was hardly a Lakers fan favorite — to put it mildly — his wing defense was still a valuable part of the long-limbed and active identity that won them the title. He will be missed, even if you likely won’t miss watching him shoot.
That said, the reasons to moving him for Schröder are clear. Let’s break them down:
Extra Dynamism at Point Guard
If the emergence of “Playoff Rondo” showed anything, it’s that these Lakers were close to unbeatable when they had a second off-the-dribble threat besides LeBron James. And with the team entering a shortened and expedited season, if you thought “Regular Season Rondo” sucked last year, just wait until you see the levels of ambivalence he summons on defense during the quickest turnaround in NBA history.
Schröder, meanwhile, will give the Lakers the type of consistent scoring and rim pressure that Rondo could only manage for a few playoff games. At just 27 years old and coming off of a season of strong two-way play, he will likely be a far more productive version of what Rondo gave them in the regular season — with more of a focus on scoring than playmaking — and better defense to boot. In the playoffs, he will likely be nearly as good (or maybe even better, depending on how he gels with the rest of this roster) as the historic performance Rondo was able to manage off the bench.
While the Lakers losing a wing defender in Green could hurt, if they can get some guys to replace some of the defense he gave them for a much lower price tag, a declining and increasingly gimpy Green on a short turnaround and a pick that likely wouldn’t have played for Schröder and a capable wing defender is a deal any contender should make.
Say Goodbye to AD’s Net Rating Woes
While a lot has been made of LeBron James’ apparently longstanding desire to team with Schröder, it might be Davis who benefits from his presence more (at least on the floor).
Last year, a big case against Davis in year-end awards was the team’s net rating being better with him off the floor than on. But while that was a real stat, it missed the context that Davis often played with all-reserve units featuring Regular Season Rondo, who was an actively detrimental player last year, helping torpedo Davis’ advanced metrics while Giannis Antetokounmpo’s soared by playing short minutes in blowouts against the dregs of the Eastern Conference.
While how hard the Lakers will go in the regular season remains to be seen, Schröder should help Davis a lot more than the regular season version of Rondo was able to, giving him a guard who can pressure the rim out of pick and rolls, capably bring the ball up the floor and create plays, and run out with him in transition to find him on lobs. The Sixth Man of Year and Defensive Player of the Year runner-ups should fit together really well as a pair, and Schröder will also ease Davis’ creation load during the regular season to boot (a benefit Schröder can also provide for LeBron). Davis liking the addition is just the cherry on top.
Variety is the Spice of Life
One of the things the Lakers missed most right after Avery Bradley decided to pass on following the team to the bubble was not his (often overrated) defense: It was the fact that Bradley could score in the mid-range, a skill the Lakers otherwise lacked outside of James and Davis, and something that contributed to their offense being a bit more vanilla to start in Orlando.
Schröder should help fix that. While the death of the mid-range has become a talking point so prevalent as to trend towards self-parody, the playoffs have shown time and time again that being able to hit the shots defenses want to concede is a valuable skill. As a player who hit 48.1% of his 243 mid-range looks last year, Schröder gives the Lakers a player who can both get the rim with speeds normally only legal on the autobahn who can also leverage that threat to hit mid-range looks at a Nowitzki-esque rate. In addition to just being stylistically interesting, it will help the Lakers have a more diverse offensive attack, which is never a bad thing.
As mentioned earlier, Schröder will make LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ lives easier at times by handling the ball while they’re on the floor at times, but he will also make it easier to rest them. Last year the Lakers lacked a consistent ballhandler when James sat to the point that Davis would sometimes have to play point power forward, this year when they rest him for either entire games or just longer stretches during matchup as a result of this rushed season, they will have at least one other capable floor general to handle things. That’s a major upgrade, and something Green could never have given them.
The Price Point
Given that he makes around $15 million a year, it’s hard to think of Schröder as “cheap,” but compared to what other point guard options are going for on the trade market this offseason, the Lakers may have gotten a steal.
Let’s look at two recent trades:
- Chris Paul — Cost the Suns Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a first-round pick
- Jrue Holiday — Cost the Bucks Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and two first-round pick swaps
Now, Schröder is not as good as those two players, to be clear, but we know the Lakers sniffed around Holiday and they likely did the same with Paul. If that’s the level of asking price this offseason, going with Dennis was probably the... Schröder... choice for a team that didn’t exactly have a ton of trade assets to enter a bidding war with as they look to retool their roster and defend their title.
In the end, Schröder is not a perfect player, and may not even be in every Lakers closing lineup. But as long as the Lakers can pick up a body or two to help guard wings during the regular season so they can save James and Davis for the playoffs, this is clearly a talent upgrade on Green, and potentially a fit upgrade too.