Dennis Schroder said he had no problem standing up to Draymond Green during the 2023 NBA Playoffs, understanding that his more high-profile Los Angeles Lakers teammates may have found it hard to do because of their friendships with the Golden State Warriors antagonist.
Schroder took it upon himself, rather than leaving it to Anthony Davis or LeBron James, to take on Green in Game 6 of the second round, which the Lakers wound up winning to wrap up the series.
“He told me before that game … ‘I might get ejected today. I’m going at Draymond,'” Davis told ESPN.
Los Angeles led the series 3-1 before losing Game 5. Facing the prospect of having to play Game 7 on the road, Schroder took command in Game 6.
“The defending champion Warriors were on the ropes, and Schroder — all 6-foot-1, 172 pounds of him — was intent on delivering the knockout blow,” wrote Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“Schroder pored over game tape from the Lakers’ Game 5 loss. He saw Green putting up 20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in the Warriors’ 15-point win that pulled them back within 3-2, heading to L.A.
“He also saw the way Green carried himself, puffing his chest out, talking trash, letting loose, feeling free.
“With Davis leaving the loss early with a head injury and the star’s status uncertain, Schroder decided he needed to beat Green at his own game in Game 6.”
Green was averaging 9.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per contest in the first five games of the series.
“Draymond was bullying us, basically,” Schroder told ESPN. “A.D., obviously, him and Bron got a good relationship off the court. Sometimes it gets tough, they don’t want to really serve back.”
Schroder decided it was his job instead.
“And so during pregame warmups, Schroder found Davis — who was still regaining his bearings after inadvertently being elbowed in the face by Kevon Looney two days prior — and assured him that Green wouldn’t be punking the Lakers again,” wrote McMenamin.
In Game 6, Green finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists, but the Lakers got the series-clinching win.
“I told him (Davis), ‘Listen, this game is going to be different,'” Schroder recalled. “‘Just match my energy, follow me, and Draymond tries anything, I got it, don’t worry. Just play. And this game is ours.'”
Schroder was right, but it was the last game the Lakers would win. They went on to be swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals to end their season.
Schroder’s intangibles could provide the 29-year-old with a key negotiating point as he enters free agency. It’s unclear if the Lakers will keep him around heading into the 2023-24 season.
Darvin Ham is likely looking to build on the hard-nosed play he instilled in his first season as Lakers coach, which also could enhance Schroder’s value and possible new contract. Figuring out his future is one of many items on the Lakers’ to-do list this offseason, a little bit behind finding a way to keep Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura.
If the Lakers can’t keep Schroder, they might have to face his toughness as an opponent somewhere down the line. Based on their history, they probably don’t want to do that.