Julian Strawther’s NBA preseason performance a sign of great things to come

After three seasons in Spokane with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, junior forward Julian Strawther declared for the 2023 NBA draft and was taken at the end of the first round, 29th overall, ultimately ending up with the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets are littered with talented wings, but Strawther has done all that he can – and more – to earn a spot in the team’s rotation to start the season. Through his first three NBA preseason games Strawther is averaging 19.7 points while shooting a blistering 50% (12-24) from beyond the arc, all in barely 20 minutes of action per night.

Strawther is doing most of his damage as a catch-and-shoot three point specialist, but he’s showcased a handful of other skills to the delight of Denver fans – and not to the surprise of anyone who watched the Las Vegas native during his time in Spokane.

Strawther is moving well without the ball, finding gaps in the defense where he can set his feet and launch a three with his lightning quick release. He’s also showcased backdoor cutting, which will work wonders alongside elite passer Nikola Jokic, and his floater has played well in his first preseason action as well.

Denver has a type, based on the last few NBA drafts. They took UCLA wing Peyton Watson and Kansas wing Christian Braun in 2022 and Strawther in 2023 – clearly prioritizing college wings from prominent hoops programs. Braun was instrumental in Denver’s run to the NBA Finals last year, and Watson is expected to take a jump in his second season.

Still, Strawther’s size, outside shooting, and ability to move without the ball should make him a rotation piece in his first season – and will frustrate many around the NBA who have to watch the Nuggets continue to add talented players to their roster using late first round picks.

Denver’s next preseason game is Tuesday, October 17 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off is 7:30 PM.

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