A not-hard-to-imagine alternate timeline exists in which Dennis Schröder never left the Lakers after the 2020-21 season. In fact, it’s probably a sliding doors moment for the franchise considering everything that has transpired since Schröder may or may not have turned down a lucrative extension with the franchise.
After a fruitful season together, the two parted ways and neither has reached the heights of that season again, albeit within a short time span. This season offered the chance at a reunion and hopes to find that spark again.
But this wasn’t the same Lakers nor was it the same Schröder. He bounced around last season without really making an impact and the Lakers, obviously, failed to improve after replacing Schröder’s spot in the starting lineup with Russell Westbrook.
An injured delayed the reunion but as Schröder has gained his footing, he’s found his groove in recent weeks, too. Schröder entered the starting lineup seven games ago and since that move, he’s averaging 11.7 points, 4.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds on 46.6% field goal shooting and 30% 3-point shooting. Each one of those figures is just a tick below his averages from his last stint in LA but still respectable given the change in his role and the team around him.
More encouragingly, the lineup data for Schröder with some of the most important Lakers players have been largely positive. For example, the 3-man lineup of Schröder, LeBron James and Anthony Davis has played 100 minutes together and has a net rating of +7.8. LeBron is the player Schröder has played with the most so far this season and the pair has a net rating of +2.6.
Four-man lineups that include Schröder, LeBron and AD with Lonnie Walker (58 minutes) and Austin Reaves (41) have net ratings of +13.1 and +21.5, respectively. Six of the seven most common 4-man lineups that feature Schröder have positive net ratings and the one that doesn’t is at just a -0.1.
Three of the four most-common five-man lineups featuring Schröder have positive net ratings, all of which also feature LeBron and AD.
It may not all look quite like it did in 2020-21, at least not yet. But the Lakers are turning back the clock toward that season and the trio of LeBron, AD and Schröder are showing a mixture of what could have been and what may yet to be.