Dennis Schröder laughed and tried to brush it off.
When the gifted young point guard from Germany was asked whether he was given a “promise” to be drafted in the first round of the June 27 NBA draft, he grinned and said, “Nobody has talked to me. … I’m just hoping to go in the first round.”
Schröder’s agent, Alex Saratsis, tried to squelch the Schröder “promise” as well.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Saratsis said. “I don’t know anything about that.”
Rumors began to circulate at last month’s pre-draft camp in Chicago that an NBA team “promised” it would select Schröder if he entered the draft. The team most frequently associated with the “promise” was Boston. The Celtics have the 16th overall pick.
Yet, even if the Celtics made a guarantee to draft the talented and athletic Schröder, there aren’t any guarantees he’ll even be on the board for them. That’s because several teams drafting in front of Boston have more than a passing interest in the 19-year-old German, including the Milwaukee Bucks, who pick one spot ahead of the Celtics.
The Bucks have been closely monitoring Schröder’s development for almost a year. Schröder said Bucks general manager John Hammond and Bucks player personnel director Dave Babcock both had seen him play last season in Germany.
Furthermore, Hammond and Jeff Weltman, the Bucks’ assistant GM, got an up-close-and-personal look at Schröder several weeks ago at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore. That’s where Schröder wowed virtually every NBA official in attendance with his myriad talents and athleticism.
That show-stopping performance prompted Schröder’s draft stock to soar. There is a consensus among NBA officials Schröder will be a fringe lottery selection. Based on his workout schedule, there isn’t any reason to believe otherwise.
Schröder said he intends to audition for only three more teams before heading back to Germany. Those teams are Boston, Dallas, which has the 13th pick, and Utah, which has the 14th pick.
Interestingly, Schröder worked out with the Houston Rockets last Wednesday — even though the Rockets don’t have a first-round draft pick.
I was told Schröder didn’t perform well in Houston and was outplayed by Phil Pressey, the son of former Bucks guard Paul Pressey, and Ray McCallum, the son of former University of Wisconsin assistant coach Ray McCallum Sr. Both Pressey and McCallum are projected second-round picks.
Schröder said he was disappointed by his showing in Houston, although he said there was a reason for it.
“I was still bothered by the tooth,” said Schröder, who showed up but didn’t partake in drills at the Chicago pre-draft camp because of an alleged tooth ailment, which only added fuel to the “promise” rumor. “I need to step it up and I think I showed that with my workout here (with the Bucks).”
Some observers of Schröder’s workout with the Bucks said he turned in a solid but hardly spectacular performance. Fortunately for Schröder, most teams don’t put a lot of stock in team workouts. They rely much more heavily on the information they’ve garnered throughout the course of the season.
And that information bodes well for Schröoder. He played for The New Yorker Phantoms in the German League this past season and held his own against older and more mature players. In 32 games with the Phantoms, Schroder averaged 12 points and 3.2 assists.
Schröder’s physical measurables at the pre-draft camp were also excellent for a point guard: His wingspan was measured at 6-7¾. He has an 8-2 reach and a huge hand width of 10.5 inches.
Schröder was also measured at 6-foot-1 without shoes and, according to him, is still growing.
“The doctors in Germany told me I’m still growing,’’ Schröder said. “I could grow another two more inches. That would be nice.”
BONUS SHOTS: The Bucks were one of the few teams that didn’t attend Sergey Karasev’s workout last Friday in Las Vegas. Karasev, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Russia, is considered to be on the Bucks’ short list of draft candidates with the 15th overall pick. ... Weltman has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant Denver Nuggets general manager’s position, although there are indications he’ll remain in Milwaukee. ... The Bucks will resume pre-draft workouts Wednesday. It will be their third pre-draft workout. They are expected to conduct three more workouts.