Dennis Schroder really impressed in his Nets debut.
The Brooklyn Nets‘ swap of Spencer Dinwiddie for Dennis Schroder didn’t make headlines at this year’s trade deadline. However, for a Nets team whose offense had fallen off a cliff with Dinwiddie’s eye wandering toward his next destination, it was just what they needed.
“He’s a player that we’ve focused on and followed for years now,” General Manager Sean Marks said of Schroder. “He brings a level of toughness, a compete, a grit, the things that we’re looking for.”
Head coach Jacque Vaughn made it no secret he was looking forward to an influx of competitiveness at point guard following Dinwiddie’s departure.
“A guy that is gonna compete on a nightly basis,” Vaughn said when asked what Schroder brings. “Thinks like a point guard where he’s sharing the basketball, getting the group set, getting downhill… A guy I look forward to coaching because of the competitive nature that he’ll bring to our locker room.”
Schroder showed how far an engaged, veteran point guard can go during his Nets debut Saturday, posting 15 points and 12 assists on 6-of-13 shooting during a 123-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs. The floor general became the fourth player in Nets franchise history to record a points-assists double-double during a debut, joining James Harden, Deron Williams and Kelvin Ransey.
The performance earned Schroder a chant from the Barclays Center crowd during the game’s final minutes.
“Great for our crowd to ease him into this, saying his name. That was pretty cool,” Vaughn said. “I think overall, he was able to show his ability to be a point guard on the floor. Whether that was getting plays from me on the fly, whether that was organizing and getting our group into good sets, and just the overall feel of understanding the flow of the game, what’s needed.
“You saw his ability to have a toughness about him, whether that was guarding [Victor] Wembanyama or whether that was guarding other perimeter guys. And just the IQ piece, that’s going to be very important for out team going forward.”
Dennis Schroder’s impressive Nets debut earns praises
Dennis Schroder, an 11-year veteran, credited his Nets teammates for his seamless transition before reacting to the chant from his new home crowd.
“My teammates, everybody in the locker room told me to just be myself and play basketball,” he said. “Coaches said the same thing. I’m 11 years in. Just be aggressive, try to find my open teammates, push it in transition, play defense. They made it easy for me… It’s just a great night for me getting the W and the fans screaming my name… I love that the fans did it. [That was] big-time for me.”
Schroder’s control and tempo as a lead ball-handler translated to big nights for several Nets. Brooklyn had six players reach 13-plus points in the win while dishing out 31 assists and shooting 50 percent (17-of-34) from three.
Cam Thomas scored a game-high 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting. But among the main beneficiaries was Nic Claxton, who showed a great connection with his new point guard, scoring 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
“His IQ [stood out],” Claxton said of Schroder. “He’s been in the league for a while. He’s a seasoned vet, and he just made it easier for everybody, including myself, out there.”
While Claxton shared the floor with Ben Simmons in Brooklyn’s starting lineup, Vaughn continued to stagger the pair of non-shooters as the game progressed. This led to extended stretches of Claxton sharing the floor with Schroder, who was encouraged by his quick chemistry with his new pick-and-roll partner.
“[He’s a] great big,” Schroder said. “He sets a big-time screen, so we got the 2-on-1 situation, and he puts a lot of pressure on the rim rolling so the pocket pass and the oop plays are always open. I think when we get that chemistry right every single day and try to get better at it in practice, it’s going to be big-time for our team.”
The win over San Antonio follows a three-game losing streak during which Brooklyn posted the NBA’s worst offensive rating. At 10 games under .500 and 2.5 back of the play-in tournament, Schroder and the Nets will attempt to build momentum entering the All-Star break during a back-to-back against the league-leading Boston Celtics on Tuesday and Wednesday.