by Conrad Brunner
June 2, 2003
By the Numbers: Averaged 6.5 points and 2.9 assists in 71 games, including 10 starts. Shot .388 from the 3-point line, second-best on the team and 24th in the NBA. … Averaged 12.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds as a starter, shooting .458 from the field. … His overall field goal percentage of .429 was the second-best of his career. … His assist-turnover ratio of 2.13 was the third-best among all players with at least 100 assists.
Playoffs: Totaled 42 minutes in five appearances, averaging 4.2 points and 1.6 assists.
Plus-Minus: Ranked ninth during the regular-season at plus 60 (plus 0.8 per game). Ranked fourth during the playoffs at minus 9 (minus 1.8 per game).
Contract Status: Free agent.
Quote: “I want a home. I want someplace I can believe in, and they believe in me. Those are the things I'm going to be the most adamant about this summer. I'd love to give it another go with these guys, I really would. This team has a lot of potential to be a team of the future, it really does.”
Analysis: His quest for security is understandable, the way things have gone in recent seasons. After averaging 9.8 points in his first four NBA seasons, all with Dallas, he has bounced from New Jersey to Vancouver to Boston to Indiana in the past three. At age 29, he is ready to settle down. Signed as a combo guard capable of handling the point for extended stretches, Strickland was far more comfortable as a shooting guard, which happened to be a position where coach Isiah Thomas had plenty of other options. A streaky perimeter shooter whose rainbow 3-pointer is a thing of beauty when it goes in, Strickland provided aggressive defense and his usual all-out hustle. Athletic ability crosses sports boundaries, as he played two seasons of minor league baseball (batting .262) and was an all-state selection in football, baseball and basketball in high school.
Crystal Ball: He has a lot of qualities the Pacers need – leadership, passion, energy and aggression. But he isn’t a true point guard, which is an even bigger need off the bench.
Final Grade: B-minus.