Friday, July 20, 2018

Dennis Schröder Trade Breakdown

Dennis Schröder has been traded to Oklahoma City. By now you probably have seen the other stories spelling out the details of the three-team trade that made that happen. So let us take a look at the key aspects of the deal and give out our penny on this matter with a summary at the end.

1. Dennis Schröder

It was time, as we had posted a few months back.

Dennis...ah Dennis, we had reasonable expectations from you. Sure, we all here at THHB HQ wanted Giannis to drop just a little further to grab him instead, but you were seen as a potential lottery pick that slipped and the Hawks nabbed you as a potential replacement for the steady and slightly above average Jeff Teague.

Three seasons ago, we argued that the time had come to see if Schröder could take the Hawks further than Teague and a year later, the Hawks obliged.

Dennis showed the elite skill of getting past his man and a solid ability to facilitate, but his defense, at times lagged, at worst times was abysmal, and never really seemed to improve, especially as the losses piled up.

His shooting was spotty and teams wagered regularly that they could be better off letting Dennis hoist up threes, rather than letting him beat them with the one skill in the bag that was special. His conversion rate at the basket was not good, even as his drives to the basket were top five in the league. This, along with the below average long range shooting, prevented his offensive efficiency from being much more than slightly above average while his advanced metrics showed him capable from a facilitation standpoint.

More damning than the okay offense overall and the oy vey defense was his lack of leadership from the point guard position. Because of the emotional, sometimes impetuous play of Schröder, the was no rallying point around Dennis. There was never any passion that converted itself to a spurring on of his teammates, an ability to take over a game by will.

All of that seems intangible and certainly subjective, and that is accepted, but there was never a sense from here that Dennis was pushing this team further, and that is an essential piece of who your point guard (or lead ballhandler) is, in this opinion. Dennis did not prove that while here, and it was why it was time to part ways.

Now that he is a backup PG in OKC and likely sometimes backcourt mate with Russell Westbrook, we can see a more efficient Dennis, perhaps. Sort of like when a starting pitcher in baseball moves to the bullpen and is able to crank up the velocity for the shorter stints, Dennis may be able to show more effort on both ends of the court, without the need to pace for 30-32 minutes and thirtysomething percent raw usage.

Either way, with Trae Young the new face o' the franchise and Jeremy Lin brought in to score with Trae, Dennis' days were numbered and the thought of him eating any minutes in Atlanta this season looked more out of place than a Sloppy Joe in the mitts of the Queen of England.

2. Carmelo Anthony

For years, Atlanta fans fantasized about a star like Carmelo coming to the Hawks, or even Carmelo himself. It didn't matter that he occasionally Hell, No'd the thought publicly. Alas.

Now, however, not only is he not a star anymore, such that the Thunder desperately looked to cast him out after a season that saw OKC look significantly better when he was not on the court, but he still won't play for Atlanta, this becoming another member of the Terrell Brandon All-Stars. A.K.A. Players traded to the Hawks but are cut loose without even breaching the doors of Philips Arena. He joins Brandon, Gary Payton, Antawn Jamison and last year's edition of Jamal Crawford in this elite club.

3. The 2022 first round pick

It is lottery protected, and only for that season, afterwards it turns into two second round picks, which probably would be at least one high one considering the Thunder would have to be in the lottery to not get the first. Two second round picks for the Hawks, however, is dubious in value, considering we just saw one of the deepest drafts and the Hawks cast off the #34 overall pick for a pair of future seconds from the Hornets, which don't have a great shot at being much better than the one they gave away, but, anyway, so much digression.

The fact is that the Hawks got a future first, which could easily be used as a sweetener in future trades. Add the fact that the 2022 draft might be the fabled Double Draft, where the last of the one and dones and the first of the high school eligible players fill out the slots, and this is a valuable chip to trade, indeed.

And, for context, do not forget that it could very well EASILY have been the Hawks parting with a future first round asset to divest themselves of a highly paid average starting PG with three years left on a deal after acquiring two more PG this offseason. To get one in return, regardless of the future maturation of the pick is almost magic.

4. Mike Muscala

THHB hates to see Muskie go, but to be fair, he has matured nicely and likely now is a luxury item to a rebuilding team like Atlanta. Muscala is a great fit as a rotational big on a playoff team like Philadelphia. Additionally, from the Hawks perspective, his maturation and production value was starting to get costly, so it was a good time to move him.

Muscala, like Dennis, came in the Danny Ferry 2013 draft, and was a rare second round pick that paid solid dividends for the Hawks. He will be missed, but we will always have the memory of the Moose Goggles. Epic.

5. Justin Anderson 

Anderson, a former first round pick of the Mavericks, is still on his rookie deal and provides Lloyd Pierce with a familiar face and a willing defender for Pierce's rotations. He is the definition of a replacement value player right now, but is only 24, and is inexpensive as an inclusion in this deal. He will eat rotation minutes providing wingplay and the aforementioned defense and if he improves at all with his shooting, that is a cherry on a sundae.


The Hawks had made their choice to trade Dennis Schröder and the time was right. His counting stats were never going to be higher, his youth and skill made him desirable to a playoff team that lacked a plus backup PG. And the Hawks had drafted Trae Young and acquired Jeremy Lin, so the days were numbered.

Instead of getting snookered in a deal just to get Dennis off the team, they leveraged their well thought out plan of having cap space to facilitate deals such as this one, patiently waited until there was a situation like this one where few teams were left to deal with, and milked a future draft asset and a cheap, young, competent wing as a plunder, instead of being plundered.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the Comments Area or hit @JasonWalkerNBA up on Twitter to make your opinion known.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Trae Young Summer League Thoughts, Part 1

Trae Young has shown both the positives and the work that is to be done for the rookie point guard to realize his upside this season through these first two games of his young career.

If you worried about Young being unable to get his shot in a faster, stronger NBA, then you have been seeing exactly what you are concerned about. Young has struggled for any space at all in these two games and has shot poorly as a result. Both Memphis and San Antonio practically picked him up full court and Young had grind every dribble with opposition.

Watching other rookies in past summer leagues, they did not get this treatment. It is like when Reggie Bush came into the NFL and teams overplayed him and took him out of every game, it seemed, and dared others to beat them.

The scoring restriction is potentially a big deal since one of the two huge positives for Young was the ability to stretch the floor immensely with his shooting. The Hawks passed on other players with considerable skills to obtain this ability, so it is imperative that Young deliver on this or the pick immediately becomes less valuable.

Ok, that is the bad news on Young in the two games. It is significant early feedback, but there are some caveats to this.

1. Young is making good plays.

The first game against the Grizzlies, Young tried to force shots that were not there against the intentional pressure. Against the Spurs in the second game, we already saw Young adjusting and be very willing to stop shooting and make the right play. This is very significant. Young made so many plays that went unrewarded: Perfect passes to open shooters, lobs, drop offs, etc. And, while John Collins and Omari Spellman were on the floor and should be joining Young in regular season rotations, the rest of the roster, with the possible exception of Dorsey, is summer league material.

So many solid passes resulted in bricks, duffs and turnovers from his inexperienced teammates. Anybody box score watching will look at Young's six assists in two games and not pick up his effectiveness passing. Many assists have been lost in his teammates' foibles.

Additionally, Lloyd Pierce looks like he has a mandate offensively: Play super duper fast and jack some threes. Playing at such a speed is a skill that has to be worked on and developed. There is a delicate balance between playing fast and effective and playing too fast and rushing everything. The Hawks, though the first two efforts of the Pierce era, look to be rushing things offensively and that can go a ways to explain the lack of buckets.

The Grizzlies and Spurs focused on suffocating Young's scoring and dared his teammates to deliver and they could not. This approach may be the case in the regular season, but there is no way the team shoots 30% with a veteran frontcourt and better wing shooting. In short, it looks like Trae is going to make teams pay with assists if they overplay as long as he maintains this approach at the point.

Young was like a quarterback who is taking what the defense gives him but his receivers are dropping passes like crazy. The important takeaway is if Young makes the right read. Against the Grizzlies he tried to force the game and took some ill-advised shots that would be kin to throwing into double coverage. Against San Antonio, we saw Young limit himself to five 3PAs and made many, many passes to open teammates in scoring position. This is huge and validates the attaboys folks gave Young for his passing at Oklahoma and shows that he is not married to firing up 30 shots a game at any cost.

2. Off ball action has been non-existent.

When Young has been on the court, he either has had the ball or has been standing on the perimeter, ready to rotate back to the top to be a release valve. If the Hawks want Young to get some intentional space, they are going to have to run some screen action off ball for Young for him to come off screens open.

It is not something we have seen any of from Young, but he will have to add this to his repertoire and build up the commensurate stamina to run like Steph Curry, Kyle Korver or anybody that can be lethal from long range.

It is clear this is not the imperative for the Hawks in this Summer League. They are focused on the quarterbacking portions of Young's game, but surely to get the most out of Young's talent, off ball action is going to be required.

3. Defensive effort has been better than expected.

Young looked like a fire hydrant at times last year defensively, inspiring a no-confidence vote in his ability to defend at the NBA level. While this has been summer league and not the likes of most of the starting point guards in the league, Young has shown more intention on defense and has even made some plays.

Continued focus on getting stronger will help here as well, but the desire is there and that was not obvious to the eye last season.


You could also add finishing at the hoop, strength with the ball, etc. All of it adds up to the project that Young is at the NBA level. The upside is there and the playmaking is already evident. But there is work to do both on Young's part and the team and coaching staff to unlock the best of what Trae Young can be at this level.

It is two games. You are watching something cooking that has been in the oven for 30 seconds. We are not even close to a finished product. Proponents of the Young pick are going to accentuate the positives they see while opponents of the pick are going to be quick with the condemnations and fear the Hawks blew a highly valuable pick.

It will be interesting to watch Young's confidence throughout this summer and this season. To realize the higher percentiles of his rookie season output, his confidence must remain high and passiveness must be relegated to the trash bin.

You may not have found two tougher teams, defensively, to start a career against, than Jevon Carter and the Grizzlies and the Spurs, especially since the gameplan was to stifle Young and force the ball to others.

Young showed more and more throughout the minutes in Salt Lake City that he was willing to make the right play and take the value in what the defense provided. That playmaking from the point guard position is always an important part of an offense.

We shall see if other teams in Las Vegas play a similar gameplan against Young or it is more loose. If it is more loose, we may see more pullups from Young if he has space, but if it isn't there, we should hope to see more of the same attack and feed the open value on the floor.

See something else on which you would like to comment? Go ahead and post in the Comments area or hit me on Twitter @JasonWalkerNBA. Thanks!