Julian Strawther mocked in first round of latest 2023 NBA mock draft at The Athletic

The 2022-23 college basketball season has yet to officially get underway, but that has not stopped the mock draft creators from taking a stab at what the 2023 NBA draft could look like.

While we can put Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson in the top two spots already, it’s anyone’s guess how things are going to shake out after that.

Gonzaga fans will certainly have a handful of names to keep an eye on this draft season, with 4-5 different players already being discussed as potential NBA draft picks next summer.

The most discussed potential 2023 draftee is Julian Strawther, who showed up at No. 23 in Sam Vecenie’s latest mock draft at The Athletic, joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

Strawther is a 6-foot-7, floor-spacing wing who can knock down shots at a high level and attack closeouts off the bounce. He needs to read defenses a bit better and be more dangerous as a passer, and he could stand to improve his defense. But floor spacing with size is always a premium skill in the NBA, and Strawther can bring that.

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic

Vecenie also mentions Gonzaga’s track record of developing wings into first round talent, a la Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert, and notes that Strawther projects on a similar path.

We’ve seen Strawther gradually slip into the first round conversation, and the recent revelation he will play more of a small-ball four role should only increase his draft stock. More opportunities around the rim and at the free throw line will afford him more chances to score, and improvements on the defensive end of the floor will be critical to his rising draft stock.

Strawther is not the only Gonzaga player in Vecenie’s mock draft. Drew Timme went No. 45 to the Atlanta Hawks, six spots behind Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe but ahead of Armando Bacot and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Timme’s NBA future has always been predicated on his outside shooting and defensive mobility, two areas he’ll need to show improvement in this season if he wants to hear his name called on draft night.

One other WCC player showed up on Vecenie’s mock: Maxwell Lewis, a 6’7 sophomore forward from Pepperdine who went No. 40 to the Lakers, where he’d compete alongside Strawther for minutes on the wing.

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