The Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the play-in tournament after ending their regular season with a 128-117 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday, and their prospects look a lot better than they did just a few months ago.
Guard Dennis Schroder made it clear that he’s looking forward to the team’s play-in tourney game on Tuesday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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If the Lakers defeat Minnesota, they will head to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2021 and face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
Schroder was on the last Lakers team to make it to the postseason. After leaving that summer amidst what was seen as an unreasonable contract demand, he returned for this season on a minimum deal and has been one of Los Angeles’ more valuable role players.
For the first few months of this season, he was a regular in L.A.’s starting lineup, but when the Russell Westbrook trade brought in D’Angelo Russell, he was moved to the bench, and he has apparently had a good attitude about the change.
Whether he has started or come off the bench, Schroder has provided the Lakers with active defense on opposing ball-handlers, not to mention a relief ball-handler and facilitator who can occasionally be a scoring threat off the dribble.
He ended the regular season averaging 12.6 points, 4.5 assists and 0.8 steals a game, although he missed their final two contests with neck and Achilles soreness.
The German native’s defense, toughness and offensive skills will be key not only against the Timberwolves and their All-Star guard Anthony Edwards, but also versus the Grizzlies and the explosive Ja Morant, should the Lakers actually make the playoffs as the seventh seed.
The fact that a player such as Schroder is now coming off the bench is a sign of the team’s depth these days. Although NBA squads typically shorten their rotations come playoff time, depth is still needed, especially when that depth consists of a player such as Schroder.