How Dennis Schröder is the Celtics’ missing piece

May 25, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) against the Phoenix Suns during game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics haven't made the NBA Finals since 2010. They reached the Eastern Conference Finals multiple times. However, they couldn't go further. Multiple players came and went, but the newest addition is Dennis Schröder.

Their Big 3, affected by injuries and fighting against the aging process, eventually had to end. The Celtics disbanded the team, betting on the Draft and making the right moves on Free Agency.

They had four eras in the meantime. The tanking phase, the Isaiah Thomas phase, the Kyrie/Hayward phase, and the Kemba phase.

Those phases led them to where they are now. And now, Boston prepares to enter a new era, focused on their Drafted players Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart. But, to succeed, they need to surround them with the right pieces.

That's where Dennis Schröder comes in. Dennis had a rough season in the Lakers, and no one offered him the desired contract. This led him to a $5.9 million one-year offer from the Boston Celtics, creating a new era.

A healthy point guard

Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) and Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) battle for the ball in the second half during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The last three Celtics point guards had multiple issues with injuries. Isaiah Thomas had problems with his hip, Kyrie Irving had surgery on his knee, and then Kemba Walker had problems with his knee.

Dennis has a good health history, missing only eleven games last season and seven games before.

His availability is a sign of relief for the Boston Celtics, who can finally rely on a consistent player. He's not a veteran who'll complain about the young players, he needs to prove his worth, and he's in the perfect place this year.

Fit in the rotation

May 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Boston Celtics guard Carsen Edwards (4) battles for a loose ball against New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Kemba Walker wasn't healthy. He never played a single back-to-back, and the Celtics team never had stability. Nevertheless, with the addition of Dennis Schröder, this Celtics team has someone who can play his role consistently. Dennis is a great shooter, and he can create shots for himself and his teammates.

His time in Los Angeles was short and turbulent due to playing with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, and Andre Drummond. The Lakers lineup had poor spacing, poor perimeter or three-point shooters, and Dennis struggled to fit in this system.

Joining this Celtics team, he has a new opportunity just like he did in Oklahoma. He's in an environment overlooked by the media after an early exit in the First Round of the Playoffs.

In Boston, he can count on valuable teammates who are growing in Ime Udoka's defensive system. The Celtics have multiple defensive-minded players like Marcus Smart, Josh Richardson, and Robert Williams. Dennis will have players around him, which he can trust to cover his back.

Apart from this, people might criticize their offensive production. The Celtics can only count on Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to be reliable offensive weapons. 

At least, that's what they thought before Dennis joined the team. The team can now count on someone to deliver an additional 15 points per game and create shots for his teammates.

It's striking that the Celtics were one of the worst teams on ball movement last year, and Ime Udoka intends to change that by adding Dennis to the team and partnering him with other great playmakers like Marcus Smart.

Lead the bench unit

Mar 8, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; The Boston Celtics bench reacts after a basket during the first half against Oklahoma City Thunder at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The most exciting question is his role in the team. Will he start, or will he sit on the bench?

If he starts, Marcus Smart will most likely play at the 2, Jaylen Brown at the 3, Tatum at the 4, and then Robert Williams at the 5. It's a good balance, composed of young and gritty players. However, I think Dennis' role can be more impactful coming from the bench.

He has experience igniting the spark from the second unit, named second in the run for 6th Man of the Year in 2019/2020.

The Celtics bench was disappointing last season: non-existent veteran presence and many young players without experience. Consequently, the Celtics moved some assets and acquired veteran players like Josh Richardson and Al Horford. These players play critical roles and balance the Celtics bench, especially with Dennis Schröder there to lead them.

The Celtics might've lost Evan Fournier this off-season, but acquiring Dennis brings them a relatively better defensive player and someone that can elevate the Celtics bench when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are off the court.

The addition of Dennis is what the Celtics needed right now. It helps them improve the bench, improve the playmaking, and add more offensive power to the team around the Jays.

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