Justinian Jessup Scouting Report
By: Alex Brown @AhbAnalytics
2020 Draft Age: 22.1 Years
Measurements: 6’7 (potentially over-listed), 202 lbs, Wingspan N/A
Background: Born on May 23, 1998, Justinian Jessup holds the Mountain West Conference Record for 3pters made over a career, surpassing Utah State’s Sam Merrill and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.
Injury Report: Knee Surgery in 2018 (piece of bone that was tearing tendons was removed). He played through injury for a long time during his collegiate career.
Personality: Jessup is quite mentally and (surprisingly) physically tough despite the lack of actual physicality. He is not the type of guy to complain in the locker room or want any special treatment. He has that blue collar mentality, so to speak. Jessup is also a high IQ player that understands his role, and has a bit of that classy “always make the right play” attitude. The value that has in a potential role player is significant. Other than that, like many players, he can sigh, hang his head, or get frustrated with himself after missed layups, but nothing significant that you wouldn’t expect. He is not arrogant or cocky, as he just shows up and get his work in.
Athleticism: Jessup does not play above the rim, only throwing down 4 dunks all year (3 in transition). He severely lacks vertical pop, and gets up very slowly. His speed and acceleration are also questionable, and certainly not pluses. He lacks burst and lower body strength, potentially due to the injuries he has experienced hindering his lower body development. What he lacks in athleticism he attempts to make up for in effort.
Projected Role: Off-Ball 3pt Specialist
Projected Draft Landing: Undrafted Free Agent
- High: Bottom to Mid-Rotation – Volume 3pt Threat
- Provides a winning impact in the NBA as a rotation volume movement & spot-up 3pt threat with high off-ball value. Provides little to no value as a slasher, but makes intelligent cuts. Shows intelligent on/off ball defense, but can get exploited athletically in POA.
- Medium: Bottom of Rotation | Two-Way | Euro-pro in ACB – Volume 3pt Threat
- Provides value as a volume movement & spot-up 3pt threat. Provides little to no value as a slasher. Shows below average on ball defense with intelligent off-ball defense, and can get exploited athletically more than others.
- Low: Two Way | Euro-pro in ACB – Volume 3pt Threat
- Athleticism fits better in Europe, and allows him to play off schemes constantly as a volume movement & spot-up 3pt threat. Provides little to no value as a slasher, below average (but intelligent) on/off ball defense, and often can get exploited athletically. Defense is more impactful overseas.
The video below includes Jessup’s coach’s view of his on-court play.
Projected Role: Off-Ball 3pt Specialist
- 3pt Specialist Fit: Jessup has a career 63.4% 3PTAR, and during this season he made 3.1 per game on 7.7 attempts per game (39.7%, 48% uncontested). Jessup has always been successful as a volume shooter from deep, and that is where his offensive value will be at the next level. Wings with positional size that can be volume shooters from deep continue to find their way into impact roles (Svi Mykhailiuk, Duncan Robinson). Jessup has excellent footwork as a spot up threat as well, as he sets his feet well in advance and gets his release off rather quickly. This allows him to need very little space to get off his shot. He was also quite good in transition as a 3pt shooter, making 15/23 3pters.
- Off-Ball Perimeter Play: Extending from what is noted above, Jessup has excellent footwork when acting as a spot-up shooter, as he gets set well before the ball arrives and can go directly into his shooting motion with little to no adjustments necessary. He is always poised and ready to fire. His smooth lefty stroke is also quite versatile and consistent, allowing for really effective movement shooting off screens and as a result of miscellaneous off ball movement. He has range that extends quite easily to NBA range, and didn’t regress much with the extended line and added volume this year. He will have a lot of value at whichever next level he lands due to his ability to make shots off-screens and in catch and shoot scenarios, (1.14 PPP in Catch and Shoot (InStat), 1.074 in Spot-Up, 1.156 PPP in Off-Screens).
- Elite Free Throw Shooter: Despite a very low 18.1% FTAR (mostly due to not slashing, contact averse, sitting on perimeter), Jessup’s free throw shooting is at a blistering 96% (70/73) this year (career 83.1%). Should Jessup become more effective slasher and get to the line more often, his offensive game could really benefit (though I doubt it gets a whole lot better). This is just another indicator regarding his touch as a pure shooter.
- P&R Handler Efficiency: With elite shooting, Jessup was able to provide value as a tertiary P&R handler despite the lack of burst, among other issues. He can hit those pull-up or off-dribble 3pters consistently enough to keep defenses from going under screens, giving Jessup a way to consistently generate some potential defensive breakdowns. While Jessup is much better suited to off ball play, the fact that he ranked in Synergy’s 91st percentile is promising. His second largest play type was a P&R ball handler, where he shot 27.6% from deep and 39% at the rim, which still generated roughly 0.9 PPP despite the poor percentages, per InStat. This is mostly a result of him taking a ton of threes out of P&R, raising the overall PPP. Removing or lessening this aspect from Jessup’s offensive attack could actually increase his efficiency and PPP and keep his focus off the ball. If he needs to though, he can get to this.
- Bad Finishing: The biggest negative to Jessup’s offensive attack is his poor finishing. He does not have good touch around the rim and occasionally misses near wide open layups that just cannot be missed. He is likely limited to being a volume outside threat at the next level and not much else. Furthermore, he struggles majorly against contact, and is most certainly not an NBA level finisher. He often avoids contact and gets caught falling away from the rim on most tight finishes (part of low FTAR). This is quite a weakness for Jessup, as it means that defenders can really play him tightly without worrying much about his slashing due to low potential for finishes and high recovery potential. He really needs a floater game if he wants to do any damage within the arc.
- Slashing and Driving: Jessup pretty much only gets downhill attacking aggressive closeouts or in P&R situations. He cannot really create much for himself in the lane, and despite his touch, the floater game has not been productive. The lack of vertical pop and contact-averse style heavily negates his upside as a finisher. On the other hand, he does cut well, and often can be seen making smart backdoors for open layups when defenders play him too tightly on the perimeter. The lacking burst and overall athleticism is the biggest negative here, and Jessup will likely never be a plus finisher around the rim. His only real chance is developing a great floater game.
- Lacking Creative Handle: Handle is nothing special, and despite the solid off-dribble shooting I am skeptical that he would be able to create his own shot using his handle. He flashes nothing beyond basic dribble moves. I believe that a role that would limit his handle would be the most efficient.
Synergy Profile: (Lots of noise, but extra information).
Projected Role: Intelligent Perimeter Team Defender
- Defensive Awareness and IQ: While Jessup is not a major positive on the defensive end due to lacking athleticism, he can consistently make the correct reads in order to help his team. He is a high IQ defender, and battles when he needs to. He seldom gives up or leaves his teammates hanging out to dry. His head is on a swivel and he makes intelligent and timely rotations (relative to his speed). He can generate a few extra possessions by reading passing lanes in advance and occasionally poking a ball away on the ball. He makes genuine effort to stick with his man off the ball.
- Positive Impact: Jessup has a +2.1 DBPM and generated 1.8 defensive win shares this year, showing that he can be a positive (or at least, not negative) defensive presence. He may not be a defensive playmaker, but you can rely on him to be in the correct spots and make the effort plays necessary. I do not think you could sell him based on defensive impact, but it is not a negative as of now. He was really nothing special, and surely didn’t make any headlines in the analytics department. Yet, he made a positive impact.
- Rim Protection: Not a reliable rim protector for a wing, as he has a sub 2% BLK% and blocks 0.5 per game despite the positional size. His lack of length and vertical pop negates his ability to capitalize on his intelligent rotations, but he can still get one or two here and there. While this is not exactly what is expected of him, it surely will not benefit a team to have a wing who can’t contest on rotations effectively.
- Slower Hands: Jessup is not very disruptive, and has rather slow hands defensively when attempting to poke balls loose. He puts in the effort, but the hand speed just is not really there to compensate for his lack of athletic tools. This is a limiting factor regarding his defensive upside.
- Overall Upside: Jessup does not project to get much better on the defensive end, and makes the current impact that he does based off of sound fundamentals making up for lacking athleticism. He likely will be near average defensively at whichever next level he lands. He will likely be a neutral or below average defensive presence on stat sheets.
Justinian Jessup has the chance to be an impact NBA player if he reaches his ceiling. He likely lands or starts in the G-League or on a Two-Way deal, and could see eventual NBA minutes due to the shooting value he provides. He could also end up overseas, where his athleticism can be masked a bit easier while his volume shooting retains its value. The poor value he provides as a finisher is unfortunate, but it is not what he will need to do to provide NBA value. He needs to bury volume three pointers, and that he can do.
Major Swing Factors: Strength, Lower Body Development.
Major Hindering Factors: Finishing, Athleticism.