It hasn’t been all pretty, but to say Dennis Schroder has been a bargain for the Boston Celtics early on in 2021-22 would be an understatement. Averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game this season, the Cs are getting every cent of their money’s worth out of their one-year, $5.9 million flyer on the 28-year-old guard.
However, despite Schroder’s electric start — headlined by a near-career 38-point performance against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on November 12th — the plan remains that he will revert to the bench when All-Star wing Jaylen Brown returns from injury.
“Regarding him coming off the bench or starting, I think when Jaylen comes back, we’ll have our original starting lineup in there, put him back in that bench role,” head coach Ime Udoka said prior to Boston’s 98-92 victory over Cleveland, via NBC Sports Boston.
“But he’s a pseudo sixth starter for us, a guy that finishes games and in that role, he’s very comfortable. Like I said, he’s done both in this career,” Udoka added. “So we like our starting lineup originally and like the punch that him and Josh (Richardson) and some of the young guys bring off the bench, so we’ll go with that when everybody’s back healthy. But regarding Dennis, he is like I said, a natural scorer, he does get a little more leash to try to score the basketball but we also encourage them to find guys like he can.”
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Schroder Flashing as Starter
A former runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth-Man of the Year award, Schroder was brought to Boston this offseason with an outside possibility to man a starting gig in the Celtics’ reworked backcourt. However, despite serving as a full-time starter with the Los Angeles Lakers a season ago, it became fairly evident early on that the keys to Udoka’s offense were being handed to the newly-extended Marcus Smart.
After a rather rough start to the season, Smart has begun to settle into his lead-guard role for the Celtics, helping Boston notch a 5-2 record over their last seven games. Still, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that Schroder has been Boston’s most impressive guard. Thrust into the starting lineup with Brown nursing a hamstring, Schroder has been given the green light offensively, averaging 24 points on 18.8 shots per game over his last five outings.
Brown Nearing Return
Brown, who has not appeared in a game since straining his hamstring on November 4th against the Miami Heat, looks destined to return to the lineup in the coming days. NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin reported prior to Monday’s tipoff that Brown was hopeful to play against the Cavaliers.
“Jaylen Brown told me he’s hopeful to return from a right hamstring strain on Monday. Said he’s feeling good and moving in the right direction, but wants to see how his body responds over the next couple days,” Chin tweeted.
While that clearly didn’t come to fruition, Wednesday’s bout with the Atlanta Hawks looks to be in play. In eight games this season, the 25-year-old Brown is leading all Celtics players in scoring, averaging a career-best 25.6 points per game.