Dennis Schröder impresses in season opener against the Dallas Mavericks

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 18: Dennis Schroder
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 18: Dennis Schroder /

After a shockingly short and action-packed offseason, the Atlanta Hawks and Dennis Schröder returned to the court last night in an exciting 117-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Hawks were one of many teams that saw major changes to their roster, with only three players remaining from the 60-win, Eastern Conference finalist of 2014-15.

One of those roster holdovers is German-born Dennis Schröder, now in his fifth season in the league. Schröder impressed against the Mavericks with a game-high 28 points to go along with 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds.

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Schröder is locked in as the Hawks best player on the roster, though some younger players might attempt to challenge him for that title later this season, and he is also firmly in place as the leader of this supremely young Hawks team (sixth-youngest in the league), and he displayed poise and panache last night in his new role.

As Hawks fans know, one thing Schröder always displays is a penchant for consistently blowing past defenders with his blistering speed – something he did with ease last night.

One example of his preternatural swiftness was when Dallas’ lauded rookie Dennis Smith Jr. attempted to fly past Schröder while bringing the ball up; Smith turned on the jets and expected to leave his defender in the dust, but when that defender is Dennis Schröder, outspeeding him is all but impossible.

Dennis lead the Hawks with 34 energetic minutes, incessantly pushing the pace and getting his teammates involved as much as possible (when he wasn’t cruising past leaden Mavs defenders).

Schröder still needs to develop a more consistent outside shot, as he only hoisted three 3-point attempts, making one of them. Another area of improvement is drawing fouls, as Dennis only attempted two free throws last night – a number that should be much higher if he wants to catapult himself into the upper echelon of elite point guards.

In his first game as the de facto leader of these young Hawks, Schröder showed composure and a knack for embracing tense in-game moments. His body language looked good, and he seemed calm and collected – but with the requisite fire needed to instill a winning mentality in younger players.

Even when Schröder was Jeff Teague’s backup, he had a propensity for sparking runs and inspiring better play in his teammates than the steadier Teague.

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This looks to continue this season to an even greater extent as Schröder takes on more and more responsibility – and gains even more trust from Coach Bud as a leader.