UTAH JAZZ

Walker Kessler Shows No Signs Of Slowing For Jazz

Dec 8, 2022, 1:54 PM

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Walker Kessler of the Ut

SALT LAKE CITY – Walker Kessler continues to show strong development early in his young NBA career, and it was highlighted in his first start for the Utah Jazz.

With Lauri Markkanen scratched from the lineup due to illness, Kessler made his first start for the Jazz and recorded a 10-point, 12-rebound, five-block double-double in just 22 minutes of action.

It’s the latest in the long line of positive signs that Kessler has the chops to stick around as an NBA rotation player, and has far outperformed his 22nd overall draft position.

Kessler Begins Season Strong For Jazz

Kessler opened the season with a bang for the Jazz, making history in his rookie debut.

The first-year big man recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while shooting a perfect 5-5 from the floor against the Denver Nuggets.

Kessler is the only player in NBA history to record a double-double while shooting 100 percent from the floor in their first NBA game.

The Auburn product was a mainstay for the Jazz over the first 14 games of his career, averaging 5.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 15 minutes per game while shooting 65 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the free throw line.

However, over his last ten outings, Kesler has clearly taken another jump in his NBA career.

Kessler Continues To Make Strides

Since November 19 when the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers on the road despite losing Mike Conley to an injury in the second half, Kessler has seen his minutes and production increase.

Over his last 10 games, the rookie is averaging 6.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in 17.4 minutes per contest while shooting a staggering 93 percent from the floor.

In fact, Kessler is shooting an unfathomable 29-31 from the floor during the stretch and has knocked down 75 percent of his free throw attempts.

That stretch includes two double-doubles which he’s posted over his last three outings. Since the beginning of the month, Kessler is averaging 12.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in 22 minutes per game while shooting 94 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the stripe.

Kessler is unlikely to remain in the starting lineup when Markkanen returns to the floor for the Jazz, and coach Will Hardy still opted to close Wednesday’s win over the Golden State Warriors on the bench, instead favoring Kelly Olynyk at the center position.

However, Kessler is already the team’s best rim protector and offers badly needed defensive rebounding. With his surprisingly rapid growth as a rookie, Jazz fans should expect to see Kessler’s role continue to grow this season.

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