LeBron James will make his return for the Los Angeles Lakers soon, and when he does, the expectation is that he’ll resume his role as the team’s de facto point guard, the same role he’s thrived in throughout his career.
However, the Lakers are hopeful that James’ return to the starting lineup doesn’t hinder the success and growth that Dennis Schröder has enjoyed in his absence.
“We need him to be the same Dennis,” Anthony Davis said after the Lakers’ win over the Orlando Magic on Monday. “He’s making the right reads, making great plays; he’s finishing, he’s shooting the ball. We need him to do the same things. We don’t want him to kind of fall back when Bron comes back, even though Bron does handle the ball a lot.
“We still want him to push the pace, get in the paint, attack and find the seams, finding guys for open shots and making those right passes,” Davis continued. “That’s what we’re going to need from him in order for us to win a championship.”
Schröder was the most important player on the floor for the Lakers on Monday, recording 21 points — 14 of which came in the fourth quarter — and 10 assists for his fifth double-double of season. All five of his double-doubles have come with James out.
Schröder has also had as many 20-point games (7) in the 19 games he’s played without James as he had in the 41 games he played with him. Since James’ injury, he’s averaged 17.4 points, 7.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game, all three of which are team-highs.
He’s undoubtedly struggled to take care of the ball, which is a big part of the reason why he’s posted a negative plus-minus without James, but as a scorer, he’s resembled the player that finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season. Whether it was by design or an unfortunate coincidence, that wasn’t the case when James was healthy, but Schröder’s confident that it can be when James returns.
As it turns out, James has played a big role in building that confidence.
“Bron is saying to us as well, ‘guys, when we’re playing we’ve got to all be aggressive like that.’ So I can’t wait until he comes back,” Schröder said. “He always tells me ‘Dennis, you’ve got to be aggressive, you’re not just a normal point guard. Do your shit.’ And we’re really excited to get started again with him soon, and like I said, we’re going to be ready.”
Schröder also said that Jared Dudley is always telling him that he’s “the guy,” and it seems he’s starting to believe that now more than ever.
“LeBron is going to do his thing, AD is going to do his thing and we’ve got a lot of firepower in this locker room,” Schröder said. “But when it comes to floor general, get a bucket if we need to, hold it down when LeBron is not on the floor, whatever it is, I try to help my team with that.
“And like I said, I’m ready for whatever comes. I will take the challenge and try to get to that ultimate goal.”