Los Angeles Lakers: Dennis Schroder is the third star in LA

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 30: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Dennis Schroder #17. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 30: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Dennis Schroder #17. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Following the departure of Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors, a totally new era of basketball formed. After the age of the superteams, the league was returning to a balanced arrangement of teams built around two stars. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

A little while ago, when things still looked set to the dynamic duo formula, people in Los Angeles still desperately tried to identify that third element on the Lakers roster that could raise them to a big three status not dissimilar to what is going on in Brooklyn.

For a long time, Kyle Kuzma, the young homegrown talent with the best offensive skillset and a developing defense, looked like the ideal candidate to become the tertiary scorer. Indeed, last season he was the third-leading scorer on the team authored some great performances that helped the Lakers clinch the first seed in the Western Conference.

However, his modest 12.8 points per game, mostly scored off James and Davis’ plays, while coming off the bench, made it hard to consider him a somewhat star for a potential big three, and the notion overall in the league remained that of the duo LBJ-AD.

With Kuzma’s performance starting to decline, it has been Dennis Schroder that has assumed the role of the “third star” alongside James and Davis.

Things changed when, in the offseason, Dennis Schroder moved to the Lakers

Coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder with averages of 18.9 points, 3.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, Schroder shot an efficient 38.5 percent from 3-point range. While the German point guard narrowly lost on last year’s Sixth Man of the Year award to current Laker teammate Montrezl Harrell, Schroder has morphed into a starter with the Lakers.

The decision took everyone by surprise, as many expected the Lakers to maintain the formula that allowed them to win a championship, with LeBron at the point guard and two shooters on the wing. It looked a long shot for Dennis to be a starter. To the surprise of many, he convinced Vogel to start him thanks to his work in training camp. He won the fans with his performances.

Schröder is currently averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists on 31.1% from three. Although his numbers have declined compared to last season, he is now playing for a team with much more talent than OKC, evidenced by two future Hall of Famers on the roster.

Other, more significant, numbers show a +5.1 net rating, 4.5 plus/minus and 0.96 real plus/minus, all indicating a positive impact.

Furthermore, the Lakers are 0-4 without him, and as soon as he returned on Friday, they snapped a four-game losing streak, winning against the sixth-seed Portland Trail Blazers. He contributed with 22 points. He is proving crucial to the Lakers’ success, as they are beyond a shadow of a doubt better when he is on the court.

His numbers aren’t superstar quality, but Schroder is having the impact of a star. He shares point guard duties with James, acts as a scorer, leads the second unit, and plays fantastic defense that improves the culture established by Vogel. He is a great fit for the team.

Schröder has really affirmed himself as the third guy on the roster, more than how Kuzma ever did. He is going to be a free agent this offseason and has declared that if the offer he receives is fair, he would love to stay in LA.

Having him on the long-term, or at least aligned with James and Davis’ contracts would be great. The fact that he recently bought a house in Tarzana points to the fact that the 6’3″ guard is here to stay. And we could not be happier.

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