When the season shut down in March, we turned in our 2019-20 season report card knowing that basketball as we knew it was concluding for a long while. That’s how the NBA handled their 2019-20 awards as well–only counting the games played before the pandemic suspension in awards voting. But basketball did come back, and the Thunder’s players earned bonus points over the final stretch.
New Grade: A
An NBA team is a cohesive unit that requires all parts to be operating at maximum capacity to foster a culture of success. Finding the optimal way to utilize their talents on an NBA roster can take years for some players. When Schroder was acquired in 2018, after spending five seasons with the Hawks, the vision was unlocking his potential as the ideal sixth man.
In his second season with the Thunder, Schröder delivered on that potential. Of all the rotation players, Schröder finished first in net rating during the playoffs. Offensively, he played with the best pace of his career, exercising better judgment on when to effortlessly elevate into jumpers. He mercilessly torched defenders attempting to contain him on the drive as he leveraged his speed into makeable looks around the basket. Making up one-third of OKC’s lethal point guard trio, he set career marks, shooting 46.9 percent from the field, 38.5 percent on threes, and 63.0 percent at the rim.
Schröder made significant strides as a defender this season and was often tasked with guarding elite perimeter players. Although he struggled to limit James Harden, he held Russel Westbrook and Eric Gordon to 5-22 from the field combined as the primary defender. Although Schröder’s efficiency in the playoffs wavered, his impact on the Thunder never did. And while the official record books may indicate otherwise, there should be no questioning who the rightful Sixth Man of the Year is.
That disappointing lack of hardware aside, Schröder’s play still paid off for the Thunder, who are reportedly trading him for two Lakers assets today when the league’s transaction moratorium is lifted.