What does MVP Schroder mean for the Raptors?

After achieving the peak of world basketball, what will Schroder achieve with the Raptors?

The importance of international basketball competition to any country outside of the United States is massive, and Dennis Schroder helped lead Germany to their first ever World Cup final, and their first ever World Cup win. A roster with more frontcourt depth and talent than most other teams in the world, and World Cup MVP, Schroder, holding down the backcourt. Good point-of-attack defense, and heaps of playmaking (6 assists per game) as Germany built a lot of their offense around his paint touches, and a good chunk of scoring – including 28 points in the final.

Of the players who went deep into the tournament — playing 7 or 8 games instead of 5 — Schroder was the 3rd highest scorer. The 30 year old guard was in a scoring cluster of NBA players (Bogdanovic tied for 3rd, Edwards 4th, Barrett 6th), and despite being well behind Luka Doncic & Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in terms of efficiency and impact, Schroder was the only player in that group who led his team to an undefeated record and the World Cup. The aforementioned players range from upper tier role players (Bogdanovic) all the way to MVP candidates (Doncic & Gilgeous-Alexander), and the Raptors guard, the MVP, was signed on a tidy little mid-level exception.

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A couple things I reference here are from Louis Zatzman’s excellent article on who will run pick n’ rolls next season for the Raptors. Read that for an exhaustive overview of Schroder’s success in that playtype.

Schroder’s rim pressure is undeniably better than what Fred VanVleet is often able to produce, and the benefits for Germany (and the Raptors soon) will be obvious. There’s a style of scoring punch there that will be new for the Raptors and really fueled a lot of things for Germany – although, Schroder’s at rim scoring was a way bigger part of his international game, whereas last season most of his pick n’ roll scoring in the NBA came from the short mid-range. In addition to scoring, getting downhill off of screens created more aggressive screen coverages which made ball reversals more dangerous, and allowed Germany’s nimble wings and bigs to move towards the rim in space or hit open jumpers – even if Schroder didn’t always get assists as a result.

Additionally, for those who want the ball to spend less time in the hands of guards and more time in the hands of wings? Schroder was a more willing passer out of the pick n’ roll than VanVleet last season. Is that healthier for the offense? I’ll let everyone theorize on their own, and that’s just regarding the pick n’ roll.

I think the biggest beneficial change with Schroder on ball is his ability to put the ball on the floor on broken plays or against switches. Point of attack defenders are typically smaller, with slower feet at the FIBA level, but Schroder is a quality “get downhill, try and make something happen” guy when plays break down at any level of play. It was too often last season that teams could switch from drop, or at the level coverages into switching their bigs on Raptors guards with little fear of ballhandlers turning the corner. Schroder can turn corners.

As for the jump shooting? The pullup? Schroder had a nice little tween-cross-stepback that he would use to get his shot off — and we saw that fairly frequently throughout the world cup — but he still only shot 32-percent from three (on a closer 3-point line) and there’s really no statistical indicators that he’s going to pop off as a pull-up 3-point shooter. I think something to hope for is a good season shooting off the catch next to ballhandling wings – following VanVleet’s uncharacteristic down season doing so.

Another positive was how well Schroder moved off ball at times next to Franz Wagner, and darted around in open space. Active guards make Barnes, Siakam and Poeltl all the more dangerous – especially since they range from elite to very good as frontcourt playmakers.

So, how meaningful is it that the World Cup MVP now plays for the Raptors? Will this performance help sway anyone in the Raptors brass towards hitting the big “start Schroder” button? Does success at the FIBA level, with its different rules and dimensions, correlate with more success at the NBA level?

The truth? Most of this is meaningless for the Raptors. Schroder has nearly 700 games of NBA tape that tell the story of his (effective) game, and his wonderful FIBA run doesn’t override anything or present anything new. Ricky Rubio’s World Cup MVP in 2019 didn’t change the fortunes of the Suns in 2019-20 (he did help Darko Rajakovic in his first year as a lead assistant, though), and no one expected a different player because of a World Cup performance heading into his age 29 season. For Schroder? He’s a basketball hero in Germany and led his team to heights that Canadians are currently dreaming of. Absolutely incredible performance. Congratulations Dennis.

I think Schroder will have a strong season with the Raptors, particularly with transitional bench lineups. We’ll see, though.

Have a blessed day.