The Denver Nuggets bolstered their wing depth on Thursday evening by drafting Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther with the 29th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Strawther is a 6’7 forward that spent three years at Gonzaga University. He projects as the ideal multi-dimensional floor-spacing forward, and he improved his three-point stroke in each of his three college seasons. In his junior year, he averaged 15.2 points and shot 40.8 percent from three. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and dished 1.3 assists. His impressive season in 2022-23 resulted in a First-Team All-WCC (West Coast Conference) selection. Strawther is just 21 years old with room to grow.
Nuggets’ general manager Calvin Booth was busy leading up to draft night. First, he and his front office made an ultra-rare trade during the NBA Finals and acquired the 37th overall pick in the 2023 draft, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Denver’s 2029 first-round pick.
Denver then made a secondary deal and used that 2024 first-rounder from Oklahoma City and their own second-round pick at #40 to acquire the 29th and 32nd overall picks from the Indiana Pacers.
Both deals were done to maximize Denver’s title window with Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray by infusing the roster with young talent. Strawther at pick #29 has a great chance to add to that championship core.
He’ll fit snuggly next to Jokić and Murray’s two-man game as an off-ball player because of his three-point stroke. Strawther’s also got a reliable in-between game. If he’s run off the three-point line, he can utilize that strong floater to beat aggressive closeouts.
Defensively, he’s a strong on-ball defender that can match up with opposing guards thanks to his 6’9 wingspan. As he puts on more size, weighing in at 205 pounds on draft night, he’ll be able to slide down the positional scale to defend bigger forwards. Draft experts touted Strawther for his off-ball awareness. His ability to know his rotations should aid him with learning nuanced NBA defensive schemes.
To get a better feel for his game, here are Strawther’s highlights from the NCAA tournament.