Anyone who had an iron in a basketball fire was in Portland for the Nike Hoop Summit.
It was mid-April 2013, the same event that Dirk Nowitzki had launched 15 years earlier. Now the scouts were eager to see Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum for the World Team, and Aaron Gordon and Jabari Parker and the Harrison twins for the US.
Joel Embiid was there. Julius Randle too. And so was a mysterious name from Germany: Dennis Schröder. Maybe there was some Nowitzki dust on this guy too.
The scouts watched the drills and searched in vain for a blond, blue-eyed guard. Instead, they found out that Schröder was the spindly black boy, son of a German father and Gambian mother, and he screwed up the script.
Exum, from Australia, was the point guard at the time. Now he could not dribble past Schröder in the scrimmages of the World Team.
The World Team defeated the Americans 112-98. Schröder played six minutes more than Exum, scoring 16 points with six assists. He also joined the free-throw line 10 times. The scouts went home with an extra file and a new name for the design board.
“It was a ridiculous game,” said Michael Schmitz, a concept analyst for ESPN. “It was probably one of the most loaded Hoop Summits ever. I had seen a movie of Dennis in Germany and saw that he was an annoying defender. His speed was striking. You haven’t seen much of his offense in that league. He turned himself into the player he is today. ”
Now the Lakers have that player.
Last season, Schröder averaged 18.9 points and 30.8 minutes for Oklahoma City, playing behind and occasionally alongside Chris Paul. He also improved his 3-point touch from 34.1 percent to 38.5.
The Lakers traded Danny Green and a first-round draft pick for him, and now they have a true point guard in the right place of his career, a more volatile version of Rajon Rondo with a better shot.
The Lakers won the NBA Championship with two of the ruling basketball players. They also won it because they were simpatico, because LeBron James and Anthony Davis enjoyed it and enriched ‘the others’. They should be better when Schröder, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol come in and Rondo, Green, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard go out, but only if they keep playing happily.
Which brings us to Schröder’s announcement on Monday. He said to start with point guard and help James because “he doesn’t have that many things on his mind. For him, it would be great to play off the ball. ”
The theory that James should conform to what Schröder wants was strange if nothing else.
But if the Lakers wanted to run even more freely, they chose the right man.
Sometimes Schröder plays with the recklessness of a skateboarder, whatever he was, until Liviu Calin, the coach of the youth program in the city of Braunschweig, came to the park and noticed his insane agility.
For years Schröder was a challenging person who played his first team sport, not always practicing and rarely procrastinating.
The death of his father Axel, when Dennis was 16, brought him to Earth.
Then came Portland. Ademola Okulaja, a former North Carolina player from Germany, was Schröder’s agent. He led Schröder to the first game of the rest of his life.
“It changed my life,” said Schröder simply. ‘Nobody knew who I was. I played against many names there. ”
The Atlanta Hawks took Schröder with the 17th pick of the 2013 design, three months before its 20th anniversary. Schröder has the fourth most NBA points of the 2013 trotters.
“But I was young then,” said Schröder. He didn’t like to lose, and he broke his social media accounts with the Hawks in an attempt to get trafficked. He was also one of four defendants in an attack on the DeKalb County parking lot that tore the victim’s ACL.
Schröder also averaged 19.4 points and 6.2 assists in 2017-18. The only four players to top these combined stats were James, Paul, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook.
His tenure in Oklahoma City was calmer and more productive. “I am now married and have two children,” he explained. “Chris was there and he is at least one of the top five point guards of all time. I have learned a lot from him. ”
Schröder said the German sports public “went crazy” when they learned he was a novice Laker. Calin, Braunschweig’s coach, told Bleacher Report he compares Schröder’s story to Jamal Malik’s in “Slumdog Millionaire”, in which Jamal survives the violent streets of Bombay and becomes India’s newest quiz superstar.
You always need something else for the sequel.