Warriors draft pick dazzles with hot shooting in debut in Australia

As the Warriors anxiously await the debut of No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman Tuesday night, one of their draft picks has already been putting on a show nearly 8,000 miles away.
Justinian Jessup, who was the Warriors’ second second-round pick last month, has turned heads in his first three professional games with the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League.

The 6-foot-7 shooting guard from Boise State has been dazzling during the Hawks’ preseason games while averaging 19.7 points on 49 percent shooting, including 39 percent on 3-pointers.
Jessup’s NBL debut last week was an eye-opening one as he scored a team-high 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting — including 4-of-9 on 3-pointers — in a 91-83 loss to Perth.

That’s NBA range on the step back from Justinian Jessup #IllawarraProud pic.twitter.com/lfFVqrNDBd
— Hawks Basketball (@thehawks) December 20, 2020

The 22-year-old followed that up by scoring 14 points with six rebounds and two steals in the Hawks’ 82-74 win over Perth two days later.
In Illawara’s last preseason game on Saturday, Jessup again showed a smooth touch — he shot 9-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-7 on 3-pointers, scoring a game-high 21 points — while scoring on an array of shots in a loss to Sydney.
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Justinian Jessup of the Hawks controls the ball against Mitchell Norton of the Wildcats during the NBL Pre-Season match between the Perth Wildcats and the Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena on December 15, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Justinian Jessup of the Hawks controls the ball against Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats during the NBL Pre-Season match between the Perth Wildcats and the Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena on December 15, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsPERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Justinian Jessup of the Hawks puts a shot up during the NBL Pre-Season match between the Perth Wildcats and the Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena on December 15, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Justinian Jessup of the Hawks controls the ball against Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats during the NBL Pre-Season match between the Perth Wildcats and the Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena on December 15, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 17: Justinian Jessup of the Hawks looks for options to pass while being defended by Bryce Cotton of the Perth Wildcats during the NBL pre-season match between the Perth Wildcats and The Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre on December 17, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 17: Justinian Jessup of the Hawks takes a 3 point shot during the NBL pre-season match between the Perth Wildcats and The Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre on December 17, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)Show Caption of Expand
Jessup, though, won’t be in a Warriors uniform anytime soon. This past summer he signed a one-year deal with the Hawks, where he wanted to work on his game before launching an NBA career.
By signing a contract before the Nov. 18 draft to play in Australia, Jessup was an attractive draft-and-stash pick for the Warriors, who were in a roster crunch after already drafting Wiseman and Nico Mannion.
In an interview with reporters last month, Jessup said being drafted by the Warriors while already starting his pro career was a “blessing in disguise.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity to acclimate to the professional level,” Jessup said. “Just being able to add to my body, work on my game, and just play.”
In college, Jessup was a consistent threat from distance. He made 40.7 percent of his 3-point attempts during his four years at Boise State. A career 83.1 percent free-throw shooter, he also set a school record by shooting 96 percent (70-of-73) on free throws a year ago.
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The left-hander was one of the better shooters available in the draft, but scouts mostly viewed him as an off-ball 3-point shooter whose lack of quickness and athleticism may limit his effectiveness.
Then again, as Miami’s Duncan Robinson showed in the NBA bubble last season, being a good spot-up 3-point shooter can be a valuable weapon off the bench.—

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