Hawks are taking the leap on Schroder, rest is up to him

An official stands between Hawks guard Dennis Schroder and Boston guard Isaiah Thomas during last year's playoff series between the two teams. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

An official stands between Hawks guard Dennis Schroder and Boston guard Isaiah Thomas during last year’s playoff series between the two teams. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

There are a number of big-picture questions about the Hawks moving forward,  whether related to the direction they’re going or the vision and competency of the front office. But in the short-term, the biggest uncertainties are:

• 1) Did they make the right decision to sign Dwight Howard?.

• 2) Did they make the right decision to commit to Dennis Schroder over Jeff Teague?

The Howard question is the higher-profile of the two subjects because for most of his career he was a superstar until an on-court and off-court slide over the past five seasons. Schroder is a different issue entirely, but in the long-term he may have a greater determination in how the Hawks do this season and beyond for the simple reason he’s the starting point guard.

The Hawks certainly are committing to him. Schroder announced on Twitter Wednesday that he signed a four-year contract extension with the Hawks. The deal is worth $70 million ($62 million guaranteed), beginning in 2017-18.

In the NBA world, which is different from the real world, $17.5 million a year for a good starting point guard is not outrageous. If you factor in that he will earn only $2.7 million this season, his five-year annual average actually comes down to $14.54 million. But will Schroder prove to be worth that?

The Hawks had to decide between Teague and Schroder after last season. It figured they would choose the younger player with the perceived higher upside. So Teague went to Indiana in a three-way trade that brought Utah’s first-round pick (Taurean Prince) to Atlanta.

Schroder is a fun player to watch. He also can be aggravating to watch. In some ways, he reminds me of Josh Smith. If you picked out the five best and five worst plays of any game in a season, there was a good chance Smith was involved in majority of the 10.

Nobody questions Schroder’s talent, speed, enthusiasm, fire or passion. When a game is on the line, he certainly won’t be shy about taking the shot or having the ball in his hand. His emotions (good and bad) were on display in the playoff series against Boston last season.

But he also can be stubborn and immature. The uncertainty is whether he can be a leader, on and off the court. And can he make players around him better?

podcastart-rgbWe’re about the find out. If Schroder evolves into the player the Hawks believe he can be, they’ll be fine. If not, the team will be on the hook for a lot of money for a player who should be coming off the bench.

COMING THURSDAY: Part 1 of a fantastic two-part interview with Hawks co-owner Jesse Itzler on the “We Never Played The Game Podcast.” Part I will be posted Thursday morning and Part II on Monday, both accompanied by blogs. Subscribe for free and listen to all podcasts on iTunes or on the WSB Radio show page.

Some recent ramblings

Reader Comments 0

4 comments
TrueFan1
TrueFan1

I bet you Atlanta has more people in the stands this year than ever before!!....I think a very very fun team to watch...

sbatl
sbatl

I think this is a great deal for the Hawks and Dennis will step up now that the organization has shown their confidence in him. I love the way that kid plays ball and we need more guys with his tenacity. If he can limit mistakes and improve his outside shot over the next few years he will end up being a steal. I'm really excited about this team and I think they will be better than last season. 

FineSwine
FineSwine

I am the SWAMI.  I can predict the future.  The Atlanta Hawks will finish fourth and go bye-bye in the first round.  Same (or worse) team as last year.  Do we have to watch?

DawgNole
DawgNole

You certainly can tell it's football season, based on the number of comments you see here.

As I noted elsewhere, the Hawks are clearly spending the big $$$.

Time will tell whether it's $$$ well spent or--as is more typical of ATL pro sports franchises--$$$ thrown to the wind.