In the end, it probably won’t matter because Dennis Schroder is, in fact, one of the five best players the Celtics have on the roster, and those players tend to find their way into the starting lineup. But coach Ime Udoka has said he wants to give Marcus Smart the first crack at the starting point guard’s job and, unless Udoka wants to start Schroder at the off-guard spot, that will mean Schroder is slated to be a sixth man.
Indeed, in the Celtics’ preseason opener against Orlando, Smart started—with Jaylen Brown at two-guard—and Schroder came off the bench. That has the potential for trouble within the Celtics locker room, with Schroder making clear the fact that he should be a starter. But for now, Schroder said he is willing to accept any role that will help Boston.
“At the end of the day, it’s that, at the end of the game I’m on the court,” Schroder said. “Of course, it’s always great to be a starter as well. I think everybody knows that I’m a starter but I mean right here, right now, what we need it whatever coach needs me to do, I’ll do it. I’m a winning person and I’m a team player so at the end of the day, whatever coach is telling me to do and whatever the group thinks is the best, we’re just gonna figure that out.”
Schroder in Need of a Stellar Season
Schroder is in a difficult position this season with the Celtics, having struck out as a free agent this summer after a year with the Lakers in which he averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists but shot only 43.7% from the field and 33.5% from the 3-point line. The Lakers reportedly offered him an $84 million extension during the season, though Schroder later claimed he, “never had that contract in front of me.”
Schroder signed a one-year deal with Boston worth $5.9 million, but needs to take advantage of this year to rebuild his value for next summer’s market. Being a starter and a major piece of the offense would go a long way toward that. But being a good soldier, even off the bench, on a team that surpasses expectations would go a long way, too.
Schroder has had success off the bench before, and was runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year in Oklahoma City in 2019. Coming off the bench with Chris Paul as the starter, Schroder said he had some freedom he might not have had as a starter.
“It was a lot of freedom,” Schroder said. “When I can play and just go out there and play and don’t think about nothing, then good things are gonna happen. I think that’s for a lot of players in this league, you just got to give them their freedom a little bit. I’ve been doing this for a few years now so OKC was a great year, a great few years I had there. I want to carry that on here.”
Dennis Schroder Explains His Winter Beanie
Of course, there is one other adjustment Schroder may have to make in coming to Boston and potentially playing a reserve role—the weather.
Schroder showed up for his post-practice press conference wearing a winter hat, and it was pointed out to him that it would be getting much colder. But Schroder said he was not wearing the hat for warmth. “My hair is not looking right, that’s the reason I got the beanie on,” he said.
Still, Schroder was in Los Angeles last year and spent the bulk of his career in Atlanta. He had two seasons with the Thunder, which is not a warm-weather locale but does have an average temperature in January of 48 degrees. In Boston, the January average is 37 degree.