By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Shortly after the completion of the season Olympiacos decided to make a move for his acquisition and signed him for two years – with a release clause in the summer of 2016 – without delay. DJ Strawberry (30 years old, 1m.96) is the definition of a team player, an “instrument” that supports the goals of chemistry, of team cohesion and is embedded excellently alongside scorers – leaders like Vassilis Spanoulis.
He started off very strongly in his school years, he quickly acquired the reputation of a great defender of the ball and he would have done even greater things at Maryland if he hadn’t suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in January of 2005, an injury that set him back him considerably. He was selected at number 59 of the draft by the Phoenix Suns, he trained with 2-3 teams from the NBA (Rockets, Hornets) but actually never got the chance to play. So, the wandering began. He has played in 6 European clubs (two times in Cibona), in Puerto Rico and the NBA D-League, until he signed with Olympiacos to compete for the first time in a club at the top level in Europe.
Key for the big leap
Karsiyaka’s unbelievable run and the championship title in Turkey, definitely played a role in the choice that the Greek team made. The spotlight was on Bobby Dixon, but Strawberry and Palacios were two very big keys (along with Gabriel and Diebler) with Olympiacos’s new player doing everything on the court and increasing his productivity and his contribution throughout the playoffs. He completed with 12,5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and almost 2 steals! He raised his percentages in the crucial series against Fenerbahce and Efes and he had 54% in two-point field goals, 39% in three-point field goals and 66% in free throws, where he’s not particularly dependable for a backcourt player.
The prediction: Barometer – Economical player
With the style of basketball advocated by Olympiacos and Giannis Sfairopoulos and the way that DJ Strawberry plays, it’s a given that the American’s performance will be an important barometer for the reds. His role? In the overwhelming majority of cases he will mark the most gifted backcourt player of the opposing team, while he will contribute consistently in rebounding, stealing and facilitating.
It’s a big plus that he can mark effectively all three positions along the perimeter. Another “weapon” is that, in offense, he can perform at a good level with the ball in his hands – as a facilitator – as well as winger on the weak side. You won’t see him taking many shots. His points are “quiet” and come from an economy of efforts and usually good choices. On a good day he can produce even more and in the past few years in Europe he exhibits an important virtue. He usually scores most of his points as the games move towards their end.
He will prove a very useful signing for Olympiacos, especially if the American guard that will be acquired can threaten systematically and open up spaces. He makes a good match with Spanoulis and even on a bad day, he will offer elements that coaches appreciate.