Howard is a problem but Schroder Hawks’ biggest concern right now

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer speaks with guard Dennis Schroder before benching him in the third quarter for the remainder of the game against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

The Hawks have a big problem — and it’s not Dwight Howard, for as much as Howard tends to get blamed for everything that has gone wrong with this team. And I type those words as someone who was against Howard’s signing and still consider that decision the worst decision of the Hawks’ disastrous offseason.

The Hawks’ biggest problem right now is point guard Dennis Schroder. For as talented he is, for as many times as he has shown he can be the best player on the court, as was evident during a 19-point first quarter against Golden State Monday night, Schroder also has a tendency to be the time bomb that blows this team up.

He still has too much Josh Smith in him.

The Hawks led the Warriors 70-69 in the third quarter at Philips Arena. Then Howard threw away a pass for a turnover (not an uncommon occurrence). Schroder kind of lost his head (also not uncommon). He and Howard argued about the play.  Schroder wanted the ball to go to him. They kept arguing. While they argued, Golden State’s Klay Thompson threw a pass to an open Steph Curry, who drained a three-pointer.

Curry was open because Schroder wasn’t paying attention. Even Howard motioned to Schroder before the shot that Curry was uncovered.

Here’s the video:

I really don’t want to get into the position of defending Howard. This isn’t a pick-a-side debate. But Howard and Schroder present far different problems for the Hawks. Howard isn’t the player he used to be, but can he still rebound and, frankly, he hasn’t played below expectations for anybody who was being realistic about what kind of player the Hawks were getting. He pouts when he doesn’t get the ball and things don’t go his way. But nobody should have expected he would be a leader for this team and it figured things would go sideways on the Hawks, who had little leadership beyond Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver (who was traded).

Schroder is the bigger problem because he has the talent and youth to be one of the NBA’s top point guards and the Hawks are banking on his development. They gave him a four-year contract extension worth up to $70 million that kicks in next season.

Schroder was late returning from Germany following the All-Star break because of a visa issue that was entirely his fault. So Mike Budenholzer suspended him for a game.

Then he was benched for the start of his first game back because he missed the team bus.

Nobody expects Schroder to be a mature, finished product at the age 23. But in short: Have a clue.

The Warriors won Monday’s game 119-111. They might would’ve won regardless of what happened. But Schroder’s lapse ignited a Golden State run. Budenholzer benched Schroder. He was done with him for the night. This benching was not because of a one-time incident, it’s a compilation of issues stemming from an immature player’s actions.

“We need to learn to play together and stay together for 48 minutes,” Budenholzer said in his post-game press conference.

Referencing the Schroder-Howard argument, he said, “Whatever they’re talking about … they (Warriors) hit a three. Those kind of plays can hurt you.”

When asked why he was benched, Schroder told the Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore: “I don’t really know. I know the three from Steph Curry when me and Dwight was arguing was part of it. That can’t happen. I don’t understand coach’s decision. I want to be on the court. Maybe I’m too competitive. I’m just trying to be competitive and win games.”

The criticism of Howard is understandable. But the actions of Schroder are far more concerning for the Hawks moving forward — and by forward, I mean future seasons, not this one, because this one is circling the drain.

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11 comments
Daring Goldman
Daring Goldman

Coach/GM Bud and his nonexistent "system" is the greatest problem!!

Mary
Mary

I'm a big Bud fan, but dang what a mess. Howard has never been a team player. Never will be. That was the foundation of the Hawks success over the last few years. No one player is the star. Schroder, is just a josh smith clone. Well he can shoot better, but he thinks he can bat anyone one-on-one. He needs assists not 30 point games. Milsap will walk this off season. He does. Ot like drama. The dude just wants to play hard and win. I do not blame him either. This team is a mess. Out in first round, regardless of who they play. Future does not look bright. Bad management decisions. Ferry, where r u?

LaDodger48
LaDodger48

@Mary Howard not a team player... Makes no sense at all. What does that even mean? 47 double doubles - I know what that means.   

jbryanfamily
jbryanfamily

Where is Danny Ferry now?How can you give power of personnel decisions to a fairly new head coach? You had a winning combination and now a mess. You need a person in charge with a clue on building a team he is not Pop or a Belichick!Tthey have regressed not progressd!

foxdog
foxdog

Everybody make up, forgive each other, and bring Danny Ferry back!

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Uncoachable............how many times have we seen this in sports in this town? (particularly the Hawks)

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Iluvnutella 

MANY, MANY times over the course of the past half-century-plus--and the Hawks sure as hell haven't cornered the market on ATL sports misery. There's plenty of blame to go around.

lowlow
lowlow

Dennis needs to grow up.  Did you see the article where one GM said he is a party animal?  But the big problem is Baze (40%Fg's) and the defense.  Season not over.  

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

Howard is averaging a very manageable 2.1 turnovers a game. You make it sound like he's some kind of turnover machine. This team's struggles come from the fact that its best wings are rookies whom Bud has refused to play consistently, Dennis has been up and down, and the backup point and backup center positions have been disasters for most of the year. If you had realistic expectations for Dwight he hasn't disappointed at all.


Also FWIW this "circling the drain" team is a grand total of one game behind last year's pace. Destined for the same result as every season since 2008: a playoff berth and a beatdown at the hands of some MVP candidate, probably LeBron again.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

We should have never got rid of Teague - we would have 10 more wins this year if he were still here.


Horford had to go because he was expensive and at the end of his contract, but Teague would have been a bargain this year.

Westside 88
Westside 88

I absolutely agree about Jeff Teague