Archives For Kemba Walker

Dennis Schroder: The Finisher

Eric Yeboah —  January 27, 2017

Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, and Steph Curry maybe some of names blurted out when asked to name some of the best finishers at the point guard position. Rightfully so, as those individuals have each carved out their own niche whether it’s Irving’s ambidextrous finishes, Parker’s floater, Curry’s high layups off the glass or Rose’s body bending layups through contact.

Dennis Schroder’s name still remains mostly forgotten in this category, which may change by the end of his first year as a full-time starter. Tuning into a Hawks game, you may be drawn to four time All Star Paul Millsap’s scoring prowess, but this motion offense doesn’t work without Schroder’s penetration and finishing ability.His teammates have consistently echoed that sentiment all throughout this year that this team is much more dangerous when he’s attacking putting pressure on both the defense and the rim. The numbers don’t lie, when Schroder scores 23 points or more the Hawks are 10-2. In those twelve games he went for 31 against Westbrook, 27 against Derrick Rose, 28 against the Golden State killer that is Kyrie Irving and 24 a piece facing Steph Curry and Kyle Lowry.

In every one of those elite matchups he showed not only the ability to go toe to toe with some of the best, not only did he show improvement in his midrange jump shot; but sent a message that he can get to the rim with ease at the same level as those big names.

“I don’t really care what people say,” said Schroder when referring to being an overlooked finisher. “I am just trying to prove to my teammates every time we go out there and win games. Everything else will come, people will then talk about it, when we keep winning, people will keep watching us then everything will profit off of that.”

Coming out of the NBA Draft, the Rondo comparisons appeared valid due to his pass first mentality, defensive presence and lack of shooting; but more than anything was the way he found creases in the defense to slither his way through for a finish as quick as lightning. He’s not an elite athlete by any stretch, but what he does possess is a lethal first step, long arms and big hands. Those attributes have assisted in his current 55.3-percent conversion rate on layups, by far the highest of his career. Hidden in that number is his exceptional ability at understanding the amount of time he has in certain situations to release his shot given the type of defender attempting to contest his tries, and all of that came with time and practice.

“My first year I had to figure out how I would finish because there are so many big guys blocking my shots,” said Schroder. “So I had to adjust and see how I could finish without people blocking my shots. I started working more with the coaches, watching little guards in the league like Tony Parker and Rondo really taught me a lot.”

These series of plays highlight Schroder’s ability to use that quickness to create an opening to the lane then use his IQ to gauge just how much or how little time he has to release his shot. You will also notice how he extends his body as he attempts the layup to create enough separation between him and his defender.

Understanding his defender seems to come natural to Schroder, and when you comprehend given scenarios, you then produce plethora of finishes. Particularly someone of his stature with long arms should use the scoop layups and high floating bankers to his advantage, because defenders have no choice but to either foul trying to contest or give up an easy bucket.

All of the best finishers in the league use it, but what I think sets Schroder apart is his ability to consistently convert off either foot or hand, meaning he he can finish taking off on his right leg with his left hand or finish using one side of the body on either side of the rim. In other words, he’s uncanny, unpredictable; but that’s what makes a great finisher great. That is what made Nate Archibald, Rod Strickland, Kevin Johnson and Allen Iverson special and worth the ticket. Those guys played the glass so well and Schroder does the same whether he is on balance or not.

These series of plays highlight Schroder’s ability to score off balance as well as properly place the ball on the glass at all sorts of angles using either hand. Additionally, you can see how effective his misdirection dribble move is and how it helps accelerate him into the paint.

This season, Schroder’s three ball has improved and he’s taking the mid range pull up more confidently than he ever has. Nuzzled in all of this progress, we may have forgotten how lethal he is at getting to the basket. His finishes may or may not wow you like the rest of the bunch that I named earlier, but what they will do is force you to respect his craft, his style, his way.

“I don’t think he is overlooked compared to those other big names because those guys are really good,” said teammate Kent Bazemore on where Schroder ranks among the best finishers at his position. “But I do think in time he will be regarded as one of the best.”

Atlanta Hawks, 60-22, 1st in the East ATL

Wow, what an incredible year for the Atlanta Hawks. Anybody that had watched the Hawks last year knew how injured they were, and how much better they were going to be this season, but 60 wins? Not even the most optimistic of Hawks fans believed that this team had that in them. They set all kinds of franchise records, got the entire city of Atlanta behind them in support, and they even brought back the old school pac man logo. Now, everything shifts. It would be easy to say that no matter what happens Atlanta had a successful season, but Hawks fans will say otherwise. This is a franchise that has never once been to the conference finals their entire time in Atlanta, despite years and years of going to the playoffs. Hawks fans are tired of being the constant image of mediocrity. It’s conference finals, or failure, with this team.

Washington Wizards, 46-36, 5th in the East WAS

Yeesh, the Washington Wizards had one heck of a weird season. They started off the year battling the Toronto Raptors for the number one seed in the entire conference, and had what felt like everybody on their bandwagon. Flash forward a few months and they’re in a nosedive towards the middle of the pack while teams like the Hawks, Bulls, and Cavs passed them. Now they enter the playoffs with the same seed as last year, arguably playing worse, and have to defeat those same Toronto Raptors. Bet both teams wish it was December again.
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The Hawks clinched the 1-seed in the East on Friday night after beating the Miami Heat and after the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Brooklyn Nets. On Saturday night with a back-to-back, Coach Budenholzer decided to rest a guy or two.

…Or three. Or four… or the entire starting lineup.

Dennis Schröder, John Jenkins, Kent Bazemore, Elton Brand, and Mike Muscala comprised the Hawks’ starting lineup on Saturday night as they fell to the Charlotte Hornets by a score of 115-100. Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, and Mo Williams all scored at least 17 points to lead the Hornets to their 31th victory on the season.

The mindset among some Hawks fans while this game was taking place was questioning why the Hawks would essentially just throwaway a game like this by resting all five starters at once, even with the 1-seed clinched. However, there are plenty of reasons why this made sense, with the most subtle reason being that the Hornets are one of the teams behind the Brooklyn Nets in the standings. Since the Hawks have the right to swap picks with the Nets, it definitely did not hurt that the Hawks let this game go.

It also did not hurt to give guys like Mike Muscala some playing time. Muscala, who is held in high regard by members of the front office, capitalized on his extended playing time by notching his first career double double: 18 points and 10 rebounds with four assists and two blocks in 34 minutes. He also hit two 3-pointers to up his season total to 4-for-11 from behind the arc. Continue Reading…

This week in the southeast, Atlanta is resting, Washington’s coach is walking off, Miami has life, Charlotte is stinking, and the Magic are showing some promise.

Atlanta Hawks, 55-18, 1st in the East, 2-2 this week ATL

Atlanta’s week got off to a really bad start when they got smacked around by the San Antonio Spurs. It was the kind of game that’s starting to cause some concern among fans, and experts, about the Hawks post all-star break struggles. Is it just coasting or is there more to it? The following games didn’t say much as Atlanta beat both Florida teams before resting all their starters in a loss against Charlotte.

Washington Wizards, 41-33, 5th in the East, 1-4 this week WAS

The Wizards went out west this week and everything went to the pits for them. They went on a three game losing streak, pulled out a win against a Hornets team that can’t stay out of their way, and then immediately lost to the Houston Rockets. The “highlight” of their week is when Randy Wittman walked off the court before the game was over when his team was attempting to win the game on a halfcourt heave. Not a great look coach.
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This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks are resting and coasting their way to the finish line, the Washington Wizards go streaking, there’s a switch in division standings for the first time in quite awhile, and the Orlando Magic are doing Orlando things. No, not going to Disney World, but losing games…and okay well maybe going to Disney World too, but what does that have to do with basketball?

Atlanta Hawks, 52-14, 1st in the East, 3-1 this week ATL

It’s weird to be talking about how the Hawks haven’t been playing well, but…they haven’t been playing well. The Los Angles Lakers game doesn’t count cause they were resting players, but before that Atlanta received a throttling to a revived Denver Nuggets, and needed a 4th quarter come back to escape Phoenix with a victory. It makes sense that after clinching the playoffs, and at this point of the season, the Hawks would coast a little to the end, but it’s a little worrisome to see them play so horribly at times. If they ever go through a stretch like that in the playoffs it could cost them a game. However, if any of these problems they’re having are real, they can figure them out now with a month before the games really begin to matter again.

Washington Wizards, 38-28, 5th in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

The Wizards are going streaking! They’ve won three in a row with some quality wins against a Hornets team they had lost five times to going in to last season, and an even bigger win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Washington has struggled beating better teams for much of the season, but if they can get back to what made them great early in the year then they could become a threat in the East once more.

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This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks have clinched their way to the playoffs and that means they’re ready to coast the rest of the regular season, the Wizards have finally finished their regression to the mean, and the Heat and Hornets race for the playoffs is starting to heat up. The Magic? Well…they’re a team that plays basketball.

Atlanta Hawks, 49-13, 1st in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Two big things for the Hawks happened this week. To start things off they clinched the playoffs already and it’s March. They also unveiled a statue of Atlanta Hawks legend, Dominique Wilkins, and had one of the greatest throwback nights in recent memory. They took on the Cleveland Cavaliers that night and managed to look pretty good against a team many people believe should have the advantage over Atlanta come playoff time. Of course, Atlanta couldn’t finish the week undefeated when they decided to rest starters to the Philadelphia 76ers and lose. Hey, the 95-96 Bulls lost to the expansion Raptors and who’s not to say that this Hawks team are the 95-96 Bulls?

Washington Wizards, 35-28, 5th in the East, 1-2 this week WAS

It’s hard to believe the Wizards were at one point the number one team in the Eastern conference, and a favorite to win the the Southeast Division. Their slide appears to have found a happy medium and Washington has regressed to a mean that fits around what they were last season. Just good enough to maybe make some noise in the playoffs, but just mediocre enough to not give you any real hope. This week the Wizards beat the playoff hopeful Miami Heat, and then they lost to the Bucks and Bulls.

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This Week In The Southeast, The Hawks finished the greatest month in NBA history despite some talk about them not being quite playoff ready. Washington has stumbled back down to third in the conference, and it might be time to be concerned about their inability to beat elite teams. Towards the bottom of the playoff standings are the Heat and Hornets fighting for the 7-seed. Both teams have been disappointing this year and want to have some success, and they’ll have a better time convincing themselves of that if they don’t finish 8th. Then at the very bottom is Orlando, but all of their headlines relate to off court issues rather than on court ones.

Atlanta Hawks, 40-8, 1st in the East, 4-0 this week ATL

Once again, the Hawks finish the week perfect, but that’s not even the most impressive thing they accomplished. The Hawks have finished the month of January undefeated with a 17-0 record. They are the only team to do that in NBA history and it’s not like they had a cake walk of a month. January has featured victories over Toronto, Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Washington just to name a few. However, despite the fantastic month, they just had there are still concerns being brought up. Everybody agrees the Hawks are a great regular season team, but many experts question how a team like this can handle a seven game series. They reference the physicality and star factors of the playoffs could cause Atlanta to struggle. These are valid concerns, but it’s hard to bring them up at the moment with the Hawks on a 19-game winning streak. They also feel like a lot of speculation without much evidence to back it up, but that’s the way it’s going to be until the playoffs. Atlanta will have to prove they can win against the same opponent over and over again, and history has suggested that execution style teams like Atlanta can struggle in that kind of setting. However, on Atlanta’s side is what they are achieving as only been accomplished by previous NBA champions.

Washington Wizards, 31-17, 3rd in the East, 2-2 this week WAS

The Wizards are a very good basketball team, and they’ve shown that with their 31 wins this season. This week they managed to grab victories over the Lakers and Nuggets. The Lakers are bad, but the Nuggets are randomly good sometimes making that a nice win. Afterwards they lost the back to back to Phoenix, which is disappointing, but to be expected. However, the Wizards lost their most important game of the week and that was their Saturday game, at home, to Toronto. They let the Raptors go up big, but were able to force a comeback and go to overtime. They ended up losing in overtime and that continues this trend of Washington not being able to beat top NBA teams. This might not matter for a lot of people, but it’s something to take note of as the NBA shifts towards playoff races.

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This Week In The Southeast, the Hawks’ winning streak is up to 12 games in a row, the Wizards have reclaimed the second spot in the East, and Charlotte is still surging. Meanwhile, the state of Florida is just confusing with the Heat bouncing back on a west coast road trip and apparently the Magic are still alive.

Atlanta Hawks, 33-8, 1st in the East, 5-0 this week ATL

Make it 12 straight for the Hawks. Are they currently the best team in the NBA? It’s definitely up for debate with how their defense has shaped up, and the way they beat all the top teams in the East this week. What’s been most impressive about their strong week is not only are the Hawks winning against other conference contenders, but they do so in such a convincing fashion. Atlanta throttled the Wizards by 31 points to start off the week, throttled the Raptors by 23 points, and then beat the Bulls by eight — in Chicago — on a back to back. The Hawks are scary good.

Washington Wizards, 28-13, 2nd in the East, 3-2 this week WAS

The Wizards had a solid week, but two bad losses kept it from being perfect. They had a bad loss at home to Brooklyn, but made up for it with the victory in Brooklyn on a back-to-back. Washington’s bigger problem right now is the Wizards are a tier below the Hawks right now, and there’s nothing to say they have the talent to join them at this moment. Continue Reading…

This Week In The Southeast, the Wizards are barely holding on to that spot at the top. Can they hold off the surging Hawks much longer? While those two continue their battle at the top, the Heat battle injuries and try to find themselves before they even consider challenging the ever expanding gap in the division. The Magic just finished a brutal start to their schedule with a lot of road games, will that really matter? Meanwhile the Hornets have won two straight but blew another 4th quarter lead, what’s with this team?

Washington Wizards, 19-6, 2nd in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

In a week where the Hawks looked primed and ready to take the number one spot in the division, the Wizards just wouldn’t let that happen. Washington went undefeated this week including a squeaker against Miami. Besides the Miami game, the Wizards took care of business the rest of the week defeating Minnesota and Utah by more than eight points, each

Atlanta Hawks, 19-7, 3rd in the East, 3-0 this week ATL

The poor Hawks are doing everything they can to catch up to Washington but they’re still a half game behind. Even though Atlanta doesn’t have the best record in the division they have nothing to be unhappy about. Atlanta has won 14 of their last 16 with their last three wins coming against Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston. There might not be a team in the Eastern conference playing better than the Hawks.

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This Week In The Southeast the Atlanta Hawks had the second place spot in the East, and then they didn’t. While hte Washington Wizards and Hawks create distance from the rest of the division everybody else just seems to be fumbling around. The Miami Heat don’t look like they’re going to get any better and that’s a problem this early in the year. Meanwhile the Orlando Magic continue to stay competitive while the Charlotte Hornets try to right the ship.

Washington Wizards, 16-6, 2nd in the East, 3-1 this week WAS

The Wizards could have gone 4-0 this week but they lost a sluggish afternoon road game to the Boston Celtics. While losing to the Celtics is not good it’s very difficult to fault sluggish play in an afternoon game. The Wizards responded by ripping off three straight wins, including their best win of the year over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Atlanta Hawks, 16-7, 3rd in the East, 4-1 this week ATL

The Hawks win streak finally came to an end Saturday night due to a Tobias Harris game winner in Orlando. The loss was on a back to back and Orlando has been a pain for a lot of teams this year so that’s not a bad loss. Before that the Hawks were on a nine game winning streak and at one point were second in the Eastern conference. While this week didn’t feature any big time wins, the Hawks were able to keep their streak going all the way up to the final seconds in Orlando. Also of note this week, the Hawks had quite a few blowouts which is surprising since this team isn’t known for blowing opponents out of the building. It’s safe to say at this point that Atlanta is a good team.
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