Walker Kessler Perfected Shot Blocking Watching Gobert

Jul 11, 2022, 2:11 PM
Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – It would be unfair to expect rookie Walker Kessler to fill the enormous void left empty by Rudy Gobert, but the newest Utah Jazz center didn’t pretend he was unfamiliar with the former Jazzman’s game.

Kessler was introduced by the Jazz officially on Sunday after he was acquired in the six-player, four-draft-pick blockbuster trade that sent Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

One of the most prolific shot-blockers in NCAA history, Kessler discussed his game, and how it was influenced by Gobert.

“Growing up, Rudy Gobert is one of the greatest shot blockers to ever play the game,” the fresh-faced 20-year-old said.

While Jazz fans may object that Gobert has been around long enough for any NBA player to have grown up watching him, Kessler was just 11 years old when the team traded for the future defensive superstar on draft night.

Kessler, influenced by his father, uncle, and brother who all played high-level college basketball at Georgia, became a blue-chip recruit and committed to play basketball at North Carolina.

After his freshman season with the Tarheels was marred by COVID restrictions, Kessler transferred to Auburn to be closer to home and quickly developed into the top defensive player in college basketball.

“Coach Steve is an assistant coach at Auburn,” Kessler explained, “So Coach Steve and I really just harped on being the best defender I could be and not just defending my man, but preventing a whole team from doing what they want to do.”

Kessler averaged a staggering 4.6 blocks in just over 25 minutes per game as a sophomore, breaking former Jazzman Hassan Whiteside’s block percentage rate for the new single-season record.

Standing seven feet tall with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Kessler has the ideal frame for blocking shots, but he insisted there’s more to the science of defense than just long arms.

“I think that I approach the defensive side of the game a lot differently than a lot of other players,” Kessler said. “It’s not just about blocking shots. It’s about how you block those shots.”

His approach sounds remarkably familiar to Gobert who despite his three Defensive Player of the Year awards and six All-Defensive first-team nods only led the NBA in blocked shots once with the Jazz.

So while it may be unfair to compare Kessler to one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history, the Jazz rookie hopes that time spent studying Gobert will ease his transition to the NBA.

“Watching him, how he attacks the ball and his timing, it’s not just about his size and length, but there’s a lot of mental components to his shot-blocking ability,” Kessler said. “So I’ve definitely been watching him and [I’m] excited to be in a place where I could emulate that potentially.”

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings drives toward the basket as Walker Kessler #24 of the Uta...
Ben Anderson

Kessler Career-High Not Enough As Jazz Fall To Kings

Walker Kessler scored a career-high 31 points but it wasn't enough as the Utah Jazz fell to the Sacramento Kings 121-113. 
2 days ago
Ben Anderson

Jazz Fall To Kings In Battle Of Shorthanded Rosters

The Utah Jazz fell to the Sacramento Kings 121-113 despite a career-high 31 points from rookie Walker Kessler.
2 days ago
Brian Preece

Walker Kessler Scores Career-High, Utah Jazz Battling Kings In Third

After scoring 19 points in the first half, rookie center Walker Kessler has a career-high 25 points against the Sacramento Kings.
2 days ago
Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler dunks...
Brian Preece

Rookie Walker Kessler Leads Utah Jazz To Halftime Lead In Sacramento

Rookie center Walker Kessler continues to grow by leaps and bounds, outplaying All-Star Domantas Sabonis in the first half.
2 days ago
Jarrell Brantley - Utah Jazz - San Antonio Spurs...
Brian Preece

Jarrell Brantley Keys Second Quarter Run, Utah Jazz Lead Sacramento

Jarell Brantley is showing why the Utah Jazz brought him back to the franchise where he made his NBA debut with in 2019.
2 days ago
Brian Preece

Utah Jazz Rookie Johnny Juzang Gets Second Chance Bucket

Utah Jazz rookie forward Johnny Juzang picked up his own mess before finishing at the rim against Sacramento.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Walker Kessler Perfected Shot Blocking Watching Gobert