Dirk Nowitzki mentors countryman Schroder

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Dirk Nowitzki mentors countryman Schroder

Dirk Nowitzki heard about a young point guard playing in his native Germany. So when the Mavericks star had the chance, he went to see Dennis Schroder for himself.

Nowitzki watched Schroder in his pre-draft workout for his Mavericks this summer. He liked what he saw. However, it was the Hawks who drafted Schroder with the 17th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. The fellow countrymen, aged veteran and unproven rookie, met on the court Wednesday when the Mavericks hosted the Hawks in the regular-season opener.

“I really like what I saw,” Nowitzki said of the workout. “He’s long. He’s athletic. He can get to the basket. He’s got a decent little shot. I really liked him. I think he’s going to be good.”

Notwitzki talked to Schroder for some time after the workout, and the two exchanged phone numbers. Schroder said he communicates with Nowitzki three to four times a week seeking advice from his new mentor.

Nowitzki has been here before. He recalled his first NBA game in 1999, also as a 20-year old, when fellow German Detlef Schrempf was playing for the opposition SuperSonics. Nowitzki finished with two points in 16 minutes, the first of his 25,000 career points.

“I’d love to see him succeed in this league,” Nowitzki said. “I think he has all the tools. He really impressed me (during his 21-point performance in last week’s exhibition game between the teams). I know it was only a preseason game, but his court presence for a 19-, 20-year-old I thought was amazing.”

Schroder called developing a relationship with Nowitzki “amazing.”

“He’s had such a great career,” Schroder said. “It’s crazy when he says good things about you. For me, it means a lot.”

Etc.: The Hawks have until Friday to pick up the options on John Jenkins and Jared Cunningham. If they do not pick up the options on their rookie contracts the players would become free agents after next summer. … According to coach Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks have yet to name team captains. … Cunningham said he considers the Mavericks’ decision to trade him on draft day as “business” and he thinks his knee injury (tendinitis) was mostly responsible for him playing only eight NBA games last season. “It was a good thing for me to get an opportunity to come out and play more,” Cunningham said. “I think last year it was more so that I was hurt than given the opportunity. The opportunity is here now and I have to take advantage of it.” … Gustavo Ayon (right shoulder) traveled to Dallas and took part in portions of the team’s morning practice. He has missed three weeks. The diagnosis after his injury called for him to be out four to eight weeks.

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