NBA Hype vs NBL Reality: Justinian Jessup

Justinian Jessup has impressed during his time in the NBL as a Next Star. But can he make the leap to the NBA? (Photo: Illawarra Hawks)

In the NBL, we always hear about the “NBA Potential” of players that come to the league. We have seen this with LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and more recently Josh Giddey. While players like these have now set themselves up for a successful career in the association, some others like Brian Bowen II and Terry Armstrong have not had the same impact.

In this series, we will explore some of the current NBL players and their NBA credentials, to see if they will have an NBA career like some of the aforementioned “Next Stars”.

In this episode of the NBL News Podcast; Evan, Ai-Dan and Jackson review the action of Round 12, Talk about Adelaide’s potential signing of Scotty Hopson and their sacking of Jeff Van Groningen, Indigenous Round, a potential NBL All-Star Weekend and so much more.

Today’s player of discussion:

Justinian Jessup

Taken with the 51st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Jessup was ‘draft-and-stashed’ by the Golden State Warriors and was sent to Wollongong to play under coach Brian Goorjian and his Hawks.

Jessup was signed to a ‘Next Star’ deal by the Hawks before he was even drafted which was a confusing move at the time.

He is a pure shooter. Playing at the two and sometimes at the three for Illawarra, Jessup was the Hawks second option on offence last season.

Averaging 13.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 30.9 minutes a game in NBL21. While shooting at 41.9% from the field and 34.1% from the three.

While his role on offence has diminished from last season with the arrivals of Boomers’ bronze medalist Duop Reath and import Xavier Rathan-Mayes. He has still held his own on the offensive end this season and has only added more to his defensive game, which he severely lacked last season.

He is currently averaging 12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.4 minutes a game in NBL22. While shooting at 43.9% from the field and 31.7% from the three.

Why he will be in the NBA

Well… he technically is already. He was drafted by Golden State in 2020 and his draft rights are still owned by the Warriors. So it is only a matter of time until he is officially picked up by them.


Ignoring all that. His shooting will fit the NBA extremely well, let alone the Warriors. He won’t be a walk up starter, but he can be a bench Klay Thompson. Not to the extent of either his shooting or defence, but he fits that mould.

Catch and shoot, moving off-ball, long distance shooting, he can do it all. He just needs to be put in the right positions.

Why he will not be in the NBA


While his defence has improved, it hasn’t improved to the extent that he is a lock to go to the NBA next season. He can guard decently on-ball but against most of the leagues premier guards, he gets lost in the shuffle. Off-ball he’s not too bad but he is prone to back door cuts.

Crystal Ball

You can lock Jessup in to play in the Summer League next season and he will at least sign a two-way deal with the Warriors.

He could have been signed by Golden State last year, and barring any catastrophe, he will be in the NBA next season.

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