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2022-2023 Player Preview: Julian Strawther

The stage is set for Strawther to take his game to another level

Arkansas v Gonzaga Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

When Julian Strawther announced as The Source on Twitter that he’d be coming back for another season, it became clear that it was his turn. The multi-level scorer had patiently developed each season in a secondary role fitting alongside other players, be it backup minutes behind a senior and future NBA pick Corey Kispert, or taking fewer shots behind fellow leaguers Andrew Nembhard and Chet Holmgren.

The Las Vegas native exploded in his sophomore season, going from 7.4 minutes per game to 26.8. There were questions of whether his shooting numbers would remain as high in a larger role, which he soundly squashed, shooting 65.9% from inside the arc and 36.5% from outside. He led the conference in two-point field goal shooting at 72%.

Strawther was the clearest three-level option in the halfcourt, able to get to his shot with a series of moves off the dribble. Defenders not only had to contend with a hyper-efficient, lengthy perimeter shooter but a shot-creator with a respectable midgame, jump stop and floater. As much worthy respect as Drew Timme gets for his absurd efficiency scoring, Strawther had the same effective field goal percentage last year. Most of those shots came from outside as well.

The 6-foot-7 guard uses his length and body control to overpower his opponent. He’ll use his length to create separation against smaller guards forced to guard him or he’ll outmaneuver similarly sized wings stuck outside, respecting his shot. This season could be a huge opportunity for him to wreak havoc on mismatches due to the roster composition around him.

Mark Few has numerous options for rotations, but what looks more and more appealing are stints in the game where he can play Timme with a four-guard lineup. This was the style for major minutes for the 2021 team that reached the national championship in Strawther’s freshman season. The ability to have a creator in Nolan Hickman with two 40%-plus three-point shooters in Rasir Bolton and Malachi Smith, alongside the three-level scoring of Strawther and the mid-and-post game of Timme is as tantalizing as it gets. It might be one of the best offensive units of all time.

And Strawther can be more than serviceable at the four spot. The power forward position has sort of shifted as the game of basketball evolved. There are just a handful of bruisers left as AAU and prep schools prioritize face-to-the-basket bigs who can shoot, dribble and create. Strawther is also underrespected as a defender and rebounder. He had a defensive rating of 93.9 last season and the third-highest rebounds per game last season at 5.4.

It will be interesting to see how Strawther’s game progresses and what he’s exactly asked to do in a larger role. Last season he was mostly used as a shot-creator, grinding his way to a good look off the bounce or an assisted open look around the perimeter. His 1 assist per game reads more as a reflection of his role than necessarily a tendency. He’s a plus decision-maker as well, with a turnover rate of just 9.3%, best on the team and the 52nd lowest in the country for major minute earners.

If all goes according to plan, Strawther is the co-leader on offense and shows a switchability that is highly coveted at the next level. With his shotmaking, size and defense fully showcased, there’s little doubt that an NBA team is going to call that man in June.