If you haven't noticed yet, great 3-point shooting is quite significant in the NBA. Shocking, right?
Spacing the floor is as important as any strategy in the modern game, and with the attention that Steph Curry draws on offense, a few spot-up shooters surrounding him can make the Warriors dangerous.
Concerns about Draymond Green's 3-point shot over the last few years have heightened the need for other deadly shooters to share the court with him and Curry. Of course, the perfect complement to the star tandem is the eventual return of historically great sharpshooter Klay Thompson. Andrew Wiggins set a new career-high with a solid 38 percent clip from deep, and depending on how the Warriors strategize the starting lineup, James Wiseman could end up being a capable stretch five to help space the court.
The bench, however, is where 3-point specialists can thrive, and the Warriors actually had quite a few players that succeeded in that role last season. Despite what many have thought, the Warriors as a team shot well from deep in the 2020-21 season, hitting 37.6 percent of their long-range shots, good for ninth-best in the NBA. Off the bench, the Dubs had key contributors in Kent Bazemore (41 percent 3-point shooting), Damion Lee (40 percent) and Mychal Mulder (40 percent). Others, such as Juan Toscano-Anderson (40 percent) dramatically improved their outside shooting to become real threats from distance.
So where can the Warriors add more shooters to their bench to become a more dynamic offense? One idea that has excited the Warriors fan base is adding 2020 second-round draft pick Justinian Jessup to the mix.
The 6-foot-7 forward played in Australia's National Basketball League (NBL) for the Illawarra Hawks, and started red hot out the gates from 3-point range. However, in the second half of the season, Jessup went cold, finishing the year at 34 percent overall from deep in 35 games. Jessup showed a more refined offensive game than many expected while in Australia, and his defense improved as well, but at 23 years old and still finding his way, there is reason for skepticism that he is ready to contribute much off the bench for the Warriors as soon as next season.
"He's an exciting prospect, especially considering we got him late in the second round," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks" show in April. "You see the impact that shooters have around the league, especially guys with size.
"We'll see whether he comes over this year or next year. My assumption is next year would be when he would come back."
The Warriors might get a closer look at Jessup if he were to play in the Las Vegas Summer League or even in training camp, but unless he were to show tremendous growth that prevents him from being denied a roster spot, it is likely that he will not make the squad just yet.
At this juncture, the Warriors might be better served giving Mulder, and his non-guaranteed contract, the spot in which Jessup could realistically contend for towards the end of the bench. Mulder's familiarity with the coaching staff and team, as well as the growth in his game at the NBA level, despite some inconsistency, should automatically give him a leg up on Jessup.
Bob Myers and Kerr, in the meantime, have stressed that the team could use more veterans on their roster, especially at the stretch-forward position. Unrestricted free agents like Rudy Gay, Paul Millsap and Kelly Olynyk come to mind, if any of those players were to fall in the Golden State price range. The hope for Myers and Kerr is that added levels of veteran experience on and off the court should foster a more postseason-ready team than the year before. Adding the youthful, inexperienced Jessup would essentially have the opposite effect.
The future is bright for the young prospect, and the Warriors are keeping a close eye on him. But it might be another year before Jessup has a real opportunity to flourish at Chase Center.