CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 27: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a … [+]
The Oklahoma City Thunder have not had an NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award winner since James Harden won it in the 2011-12 season. With the outstanding play of Dennis Schroder this season, that could finally change.
When looking at the winners of this award over the past decade or so, it seems there is a common trend – guards that score at a high level.
- 2018-19: Lou Williams
- 2017-18: Lou Williams
- 2016-17: Eric Gordon
- 2015-16: Jamal Crawford
- 2014-15: Lou Williams
- 2013-14: Jamal Crawford
- 2012-13: J.R. Smith
- 2011-12: James Harden
Dennis Schroder certainly fits this mold. Averaging 18.4 points per game this season, he leads all bench players in scoring. He is scoring efficiently at all levels, shooting 83.8 percent from the free throw line, 35.1 percent from deep, and 50.4 percent in the mid-range game.
Looking at all NBA players, not just bench players, Schroder is one of the hottest offensive players in the league. Not only has he scored 31 points twice already this season, but he also is on a long scoring streak.
- 6 straight 20+ point games
- 15 straight 17+ point games
- 20 straight 10+ point games
Averaging 30.3 minutes per night, Schroder is one of the most important players in the Thunder’s success this season, even off the bench. Outside of scoring the ball, he has shown great effort and aggressiveness on the defensive end as well as produced 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest.
On a team with a variety of high-level scorers, Schroder often finds himself as the team’s leading scorer in games. In fact, he’s just second behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in games in which he is the leading scorer with ten games.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 12
- Dennis Schroder: 10
- Chris Paul: 5
- Danilo Gallinari: 5
- Steven Adams: 1
- Abdel Nader: 1
Schroder, although not a starter, often finds himself closing out games. His scoring down the stretch has proven extremely useful as Oklahoma City rolls out their three point guard lineup.
The German has already won a Western Conference Player of the Week award this season and was also a nominee for Western Conference Player of the Month in December, which is extremely impressive as a bench player. Schroder was a huge part of Oklahoma City going 11-4 in December and cementing themselves in playoff race. At 19-15, the Thunder are 4.5 games ahead of 8th seed but also 4.5 back from the 4th seed in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City produces an average of 38.6 bench points per game (good for 10th in NBA) and Schroder accounts for 47.7 percent of that production. In fact, his production is not far off from several other teams’ entire bench average.
- Rockets: 25.1 bench points per game
- Blazers: 27.1 bench points per game
- Jazz: 27.5 bench points per game
Schroder’s 18.4 points per game is just under what several of these likely playoff teams’ benches scores as a whole. This goes to show just how beneficial his scoring spark off the bench has been for the Thunder this season. It is clear that Schroder could start at point guard for a couple of teams around the league, but fits nicely off of the bench in Oklahoma City.
Still just 26 years old, with a contract worth $15.5 million per year through the 2020-21 season, Dennis Schroder has been excellent in the 2019-20 NBA season. As a current frontrunner for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, he could be the first to win it in Oklahoma City since James Harden.