Justinian Jessup might be a rookie, but the Warriors draft pick came up clutch late in the National Basketball League (NBL) playoffs Thursday.
With under a minute and a half remaining in the first of a three-game series in the NBL Semifinals, Jessup came off a screen with his Illawarra Hawks trailing by two, and hit a clutch stepback 3-pointer to put his team ahead.
Jessup also was fouled with nine seconds left and the Hawks leading by a point. The 23-year-old made one of his two free throws, and Illawarra hung on for a 74-72 victory in Game 1. Jessup finished with 17 points and four rebounds.
The Warriors drafted Jessup at No. 51 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, with the expectation that he would play at least one full season in Australia. The Boise State product averaged 13.2 points and 3.6 rebounds with the Hawks this season, and clearly is a player they trust to play important minutes down the stretch of playoff games.
Jessup has a solid 3-point shot, which many Warriors fans believe could help the bench in the 2021-22 season.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers told 95.7 The Game earlier this month that Jessup at least will get an opportunity in Summer League before a decision is made on his NBA future.
"Right now, his best skill is shooting," Myers said. "And he's pretty big, 6-7, 6-8. To shoot at that size as well as he does -- he's a knock-down shooter. But until we see him do it at the game speed of the NBA -- I think the plan is for him to come over here for Summer League, which isn't the NBA but it's better to see him in person -- then we can make that call."
The Warriors might be more interested in veteran contributors off the bench next season with championship aspirations, but Jessup should at least get a chance to prove himself against American competition after a year in Australia.