Schroder ready to shine for Hawks

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

AT­LANTA:

with a daz­zling cross­over, and then split two more de­fend­ers as he darted into the lane. He tossed up a lob, ex­pect­ing Howard to be there, but the ball went right to the Pis­tons. At­lanta’s new big man didn’t an­tic­i­pate what his point guard had in mind. Clearly, it’s go­ing to be an ad­just­ment go­ing from pre­vi­ous At­lanta cen­ter Al Hor­ford - re­ally, more of a power for­ward - to Howard, a dom­i­nat­ing in­side pres­ence but not as well-rounded as his pre­de­ces­sor.

Pres­sure on the rim

Schroder ex­pects op­pos­ing teams to sag to­ward the bas­ket at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, look­ing both to limit Howard and choke off the po­ten­tial driv­ing lanes. That’s why Schroder spent much of the sum­mer work­ing on his jump shot. He of­ten stays af­ter prac­tice to get in ex­tra work with At­lanta’s best out­side shooter, Kyle Korver. “With Dwight rolling to the rim and putting a lot of pres­sure on the rim, we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to get a lot of open shots,” Schroder said. “I think the mid-range jumper is go­ing to be open all day. I’ve got to shoot them.”

Af­ter be­ing drafted 17th over­all in 2013, Schroder played spar­ingly as a rookie. But he made a big leap in Year 2, av­er­ag­ing 10 points and 4.1 as­sists on a team that set a fran­chise record by go­ing 60-22. Schroder con­tin­ued to play be­hind Teague a sea­son ago but was of­ten on the court in the clos­ing min­utes of big games, in­clud­ing the play­offs. With Teague en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his con­tract, the Hawks dealt him to In­di­ana for a first-round pick and put their faith fully in Schroder, who av­er­aged 11 points and 4.4 as­sists while Teague’s pro­duc­tion sagged.

“It changed in no time, like, every­thing,” Schroder said. “I’m just try­ing to get bet­ter ev­ery day and take the next step.” With in­creased min­utes, Schroder knows he must al­ter his style of play. Com­ing off the bench, he could just go, go, go at both ends of the court. “Full court (de­fense) is prob­a­bly not go­ing to work for 82 games,” Schroder said, break­ing into a smile. “I’ve got to get used to play­ing 30 to 35 min­utes a game.”

He’s been get­ting ad­vice from team­mate Kent Baze­more, who earned a sim­i­lar pro­mo­tion. A high-en­ergy bench player when he first signed with the Hawks, Baze­more had to learn how to pace him­self a bit when he moved into the start­ing lineup. “It’s def­i­nitely an ad­just­ment for him,” Baze­more said. “He likes to pres­sure like crazy. Ob­vi­ously, with him play­ing a lot more min­utes, it’s a lot harder to do that.” But Baze­more and his team­mates have no doubt the Hawks are in good hands with Schroder.

“He’s just try­ing to find his role, find his niche, find out how he can be more ef­fec­tive at both ends of the floor,” Baze­more said. “He’s def­i­nitely got­ten a lot bet­ter with the ball in his hands. He’s start­ing to make the right reads, get­ting a lot of guys in­volved, get­ting more vo­cal as the point guard. He’s do­ing all the right things.”

—AP

AT­LANTA: At­lanta Hawks for­ward Thabo Se­folosha (25) goes to the bas­ket as Cleve­land Cava­liers guard DeAn­dre Lig­gins (14) de­fends in the first half of a pre­sea­son NBA bas­ket­ball game Mon­day, Oct 10, 2016.

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