Dennis Schröder isn’t going to win the MVP. He may not even have been the best player for the Lakers on Friday night (LeBron James, with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists was great). But hot damn does this team look a whole hell of a lot better with him on the floor, scrambling to force turnovers and pushing the pace. So while all the buzz early on Friday was about the Lakers’ new 10-day contract signing, their 102-93 win against the Portland Trail Blazers showed that the only paperwork general manager Rob Pelinka needs to busy himself with is Schröder’s surely impending extension.
Schröder became eligible for a larger extension offer last week, and the comfort that left him confident enough to buy a house in Los Angeles was obvious in his return to the floor after a four-game absence due to contact tracing. If anything, the rest appeared to have done Schröder’s legs some good, as he looked even quicker than normal, with his special brand of Scarlet Witch-esque chaos magic giving the entire Lakers defense a boost as they forced 15 Blazers turnovers for 23 fastbreak points.
Schröder finished the night with 22 points on 6-14 shooting, a box score that does not fully do justice to his impact. As great as LeBron is, the last several games demonstrated that without Anthony Davis, he needs another guy who can go get his own shot more than ever. Schröder gives the Lakers that type of player, and that he does it while defensively living up to the “Dennis the Menace” nickname LeBron is so committed to makes him even more important for this team.
In other contributions, Montrezl Harrell was a wonderful spark off the bench with 17 points and 9 rebounds to go with a team-high plus-minus of +22. And freed from ballhandling duties, Alex Caruso was again a super sub, finishing with 10 points and a second on the team +11. The Lakers even managed to win a game while still shooting horribly from three, only hitting 7-27 triples on the night because their dominant defense is back, holding the seventh-best offense in the NBA that averages 115.2 points per 100 possessions to just 99.9, a rate worse than the league-worst Cleveland Cavaliers (104.8)
This win snaps the aforementioned four-game losing for the Lakers, who are now 23-11 and will get a day off before facing the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. But with how good Schröder played, it that feels like that game won’t be the next time we hear from the team. After going from winless without him to a return to their dominant selves against the Blazers, the Lakers need to get a Schröder extension done posthaste. That sound your hear is his agent celebrating and counting his commission while watching tonight’s highlights.