Rookies from the 2022 NBA draft haven’t even played their first NBA regular season game yet, and already the mock draft enthusiasts are out in full force looking ahead to 2023.
The fine folks over at USA TODAY’s Rookie Wire put together their first official mock draft for 2023, and Gonzaga forward Julian Strawther was mocked to the Suns at No. 26 overall.
Strawther was viewed as one of the top returning players after withdrawing from the draft. He averaged 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and one assist last season and scored in double figures 21 times. He emerged as a great shooter with the Zags and looks to continue to improve on offense. Teams will also likely want to see him take the next step as a defender. If he can do that, he should be a lock as a first-round pick next year.Cody Taylor, Rookie Wire
Strawther was expected to be a second round pick last year, although his strong performance at the NBA draft combine could have vaulted him into the first round conversation.
However, a strong year as Gonzaga’s likely No. 2 scoring option behind Drew Timme should help Strawther boost his stock even further, and if he shows improvement as a defender (particularly a post defender if he’s asked to fill that role) and consistency as an outside shooter he could easily climb as high as the lottery in next year’s class.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.