Confidence - and brashness - growing in Schroder

Hawks’ Dennis Schroder ldrives past the Magic’s Luke Ridnour during a recent game in Atlanta. Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com

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Hawks’ Dennis Schroder ldrives past the Magic’s Luke Ridnour during a recent game in Atlanta. Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Dennis Schroder is walking it.

The Hawks reserve point guard has shown tremendous improvement this year over his rookie campaign. With each step in the progression, a little more of Schroder’s brashness rises to the surface.

Schroder has exchanged words on the court with the likes of LeBron James and Stephen Curry recently. His stare down over a fallen Archie Goodwin following a dunk last week in Phoenix drew a technical foul.

The 21-year-old Schroder said his confidence helped a rapid rise through the basketball ranks in his native Germany.

“When I was in Germany I was that confident,” Schroder said. “But it’s different when you come over here. You’ve got to get used to it first and try to play good first before you get all your confidence and that you can show it. I tried to keep working on my game and I got better. Now, I just try to play the way I played in Germany.”

So, have we seen the upper limits of his confidence?

“Not yet,” Schroder said. “I just try to do it slowly.”

It is indeed a fine line Schroder walks. It’s one the Hawks must tread carefully as well. They want to encourage the youngster’s confidence as one of the main reasons for his success in the NBA from his days of playing soccer and riding skateboards back home. Yet, too much brashness can be dangerous to the player and the team.

“I think his confidence is what definitely puts him in position to have success,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “To be doing some of the things he’s doing at a relatively young age and I don’t think anyone can take that confidence away from him. We love that confidence. I think there is a fine line about how we want to go about our business and conduct ourselves in the heat of the battle, heat of the moment, and be respectful of your opponent and still compete your [butt] off.

“He’s young and we are still working on it. But at the end of the day, his confidence is something that we love and makes him. The guy has a chance to be special and you don’t want to take that away from him in any way, shape or form.”

Schroder has scored in double-figures 36 times this season, including 11 of the past 12 games. He had season-highs of 24 points and 10 assists against the Lakers March 15. He most recently had 18 point, five assist, three rebounds, one steal and one block in 24 minutes in Sunday’s loss to the Spurs.

“I’m sure there is a fine line but I love him playing with a chip on his shoulder,” veteran Elton Brand said. “Those are stars that he got into it with but I don’t know what they said to him either. I don’t see Dennis going out there and starting trouble but I do see him playing with a chip on his shoulder. I like that. I love it when he plays with an edge on defense and offense.”

Schroder said he has to play with a level of confidence to compete against the best in the league. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds he has speed that can frustrate opponents on both ends of the court. Don’t look for it to end anytime soon.

“I think we are all conscious that his confidence is critical to any player,” Budenholzer said. “Some guys have it built into their DNA and I think you want to embrace it rather than break it down.”

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