The Los Angeles Lakers are going to have an important priority this offseason as Dennis Schroder hits unrestricted free agency. Since the injury of LeBron James, Schroder has shown the Lakers why they have to do everything in their power to re-sign him.
It will take a substantial financial commitment from the organization but one that they need to make. Since the injury to James, the Lakers are 6-7. Without Schroder, it’s hard to imagine what that record would be. It is safe to say it would be much worse, though.
Schroder Stepping up in the Absence of James and Davis
While the guard has had an up and down journey getting adjusted to playing alongside two superstars in LeBron and Anthony Davis, their absence has shown how important he is to the Lakers. Since the injury to James, Schroder is averaging 17 points, 7.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. All three are team highs over the 13 games the team has played without James.
When they acquired Schroder in the offseason, it was a drastic change from the route they took to a championship last season. While he is a good defender, he is a much more impactful third offensive option than the team had all of last season. It seemed they were planning for James and Davis to miss time, or at least planning to not have to ride them as hard over the course of the season.
Good thing they made that decision. Take Schroder off this team and at best you are winning a couple of the games played without James or Davis. Schroder has kept them afloat and his confidence should be sky high once they do return. That’ll be his next step in forcing the Lakers hand this offseason.
It should be expected the Lakers will go all out in re-signing him now, though. James will be another year older and Davis has a history of injuries. Even if the fit hasn’t been perfected among the three, the Lakers need a player to count on if those two miss time. It’s a huge security blanket for upcoming regular seasons.
Other Lakers Stepping up Alongside Dennis Schroder
It hasn’t been just Schroder stepping up to keep the Lakers going. He has been the most important player in their success, but he has gotten help from some teammates as well.
First is Kyle Kuzma. He has played in 11 of the 13 games since the injury and is averaging a team-high 34.5 minutes in those contests. Although his shot is struggling, hitting just 38.9 percent of his field goals in the 11 games, he has been a key part of the teams’ success. His 16.1 points per game are second to Schroder.
Markieff Morris has made the biggest impact compared to his role pre injuries. Before losing James to go with Davis being out, he was scoring 5.8 points per game. Since that, he is scoring 12 points per game. Both he and Kuzma could benefit greatly from the confidence boosts they are getting recently.
Head coach Frank Vogel is going to have decisions to make about the rotation when his stars return. That is not a bad problem to have in this situation. All three of Schroder, Kuzma and Morris will be important to the Lakers defense of their title. They have already been crucial in keeping the team going through the injuries to both Davis and James.
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