Max Strus is a 6’6” wing for the DePaul Blue Demons. The former DII standout at Lewis University has been DePaul’s go-to scorer the past two seasons following his transfer, and was recently named to the All-Big East Conference Second Team. Strus has grinded to make the climb from a formerly underrecruited prep to being on the doorstep of getting a legitimate shot at the NBA.
Tale of the Tape
Shooting Off Movement
DePaul runs a high volume of floppy sets featuring Strus, an action which exemplifies Strus’s offensive strengths. He does a great job using fakes and jabs to get his defender moving one direction before quickly accelerating, causing his defender to trail, then maneuvering tightly past the screener. His ability to come full speed off this action, fluidly hop into his shooting motion, decelerate his lateral momentum and transfer it vertically into his jumper is highly functional and makes him a potentially translatable off-motion shooter.
Strus makes quality reads and is a versatile threat as an off-ball screen recipient. At the outset of floppy sets, Strus is decisive and explosive in his decision to run off the single screen or the stagger screen. While coming off the screen, Strus also does a nice job of reading the reactions of both his defender and the screener’s defender. Strus will counter defensive adjustments by altering his route into a bump and fade, curl, or other movement to free himself up for an open look.
Strus is a 74th percentile off-screen scorer by converting at a rate of 1.058 PPP. On guarded catch-and-shoot looks, which in Strus’s case often come off-movement, Strus ranks in the 76th percentile by converting at a rate of 1.138 PPP. These numbers are particularly impressive given the context of the attention that Strus demands within the confines of the DePaul offense. Strus is the clear primary scoring option for the Blue Demons with not particularly ideal floor spacing at any given time. Strus’s off-movement shooting prowess has the potential to flourish even more at the next level in a lower usage role alongside other great shooting threats.
In the clip below, we will highlight Strus’s versatility as an off-movement shooter.
Strus is in incredible shape which makes him capable of consistently sprinting through these actions without wearing down over the course of a game. Strus plays nearly 37 minutes per contest and his endurance enables him to go full tilt each possession, eventually allowing for more open looks as his match-up inevitably runs out of energy down the stretch.
For a further PBC deep-dive into off-movement shooting, click here.
Post-Ups: Punishing Mismatches
Max Strus is a strong wing with a sturdy frame and broad shoulders. At DePaul, Strus has shown functional back-to-the-basket acumen as a means of exploiting mismatches.
The number of screens that Strus runs off of frequently results switch scenarios for the opposition. When Strus gets matched up with a shorter or thinner defender, he quickly identifies the mismatch, seeks out the ball, and initiates a mid-post back down. Strus has a combination of lower body, core, and upper body strength that he can use to either cause his defender to give ground en route to the basket or bump them off their spot before rising up for a pull-up jumper.
On post-ups this season, Strus ranks in the 79th percentile by converting at a rate of 1.115 PPP. This is a strong mark for 6’6’’ wing in a play type typically dominated by bigs. Strus’s strong conversion rate as a post-up scorer reflects his opportunistic approach to identifying mismatches and taking advantage of them to create quality looks.
In the modern NBA, traditional big-on-big post-ups have been diminishing, but the prevalence of switch-heavy defensive schemes opens up some potential susceptibility for smaller guards to be situationally exploited. Strus’s frame and offensive game are conducive to creating such looks at the next level when the situation calls for it.
In the clip below, we highlight Strus’s knack for exploiting mismatches in the post.
Strus briefly tested the 2018 NBA Draft waters and received valuable, candid feedback from NBA personnel. Entering the 2019 pre-draft process, Strus is a bit more of an established prospect and could generate some intrigue from quite a few teams. His combination of confidence, feel, shot-making, strength, plus 4” wingspan, competitiveness, vertical bounce, and endurance will certainly give him a chance of sticking. Strus projects as a likely Portsmouth invitee, potential high performer at NBA Summer League, and as having a chance of earning a two-way contract.
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