UTAH JAZZ

Kessler Flashes Jump Shot, But Jazz Like His Low Post Aggression

Jan 12, 2023, 2:59 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 9:44 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Walker Kessler turned some heads when he comfortably knocked down a shot-clock-beating 18-foot jump shot in the Utah Jazz win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

Of Kessler’s 172 field goal attempts this season, only 10 have come outside of five feet. And, for the most part, they’ve been unsuccessful.

Before Tuesday’s game the Jazz rookie was just 2-9 from beyond five feet, including a slightly concerning 2-8 from 5-9 feet.

RELATED: Markkanen Holds Steady In Second Round Of All-Star Voting

If Kessler hopes to be a more respected offensive player in the NBA, his ability to knock down a jump shot outside of the restricted area will have to improve. That’s why his baseline jumper against Cleveland was a breath of fresh air for fans who have tracked his development.

Unlike longtime Jazz center Rudy Gobert whose scoring game barely developed beyond dunking the ball, Kessler has a background as a jump shooter.

The Auburn product talked about it in an interview with Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone on Thursday.

“Coming out of high school, I was an offensive player,” Kessler admitted. “I didn’t care about defense, I was a stretch big.”

That aspect of Kessler’s game never materialized in college as he knocked down just 11 of his 54 three-point attempts at North Carolin and Auburn before entering the NBA Draft.

This season Kessler has yet to attempt a three-pointer, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the cards.

“I see Walker’s game being able to build out in the future,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “That situation was such a short clock and he ends up catching the ball — of course, you’ve got a green light.”

Though Jazz fans may want to see more jump shots from the promising rookie, Hardy said there’s a reason the team has focused on other things.

“I don’t want him to get distracted by adding too much to his game right now and lose focus on the things that he’s really still trying to shore up,” the Jazz coach said. “His pick and roll defense, protecting the rim, being a great screener because right now that’s how you can help us win these games, and ultimately, that’s going to be the backbone that his games built on.”

Kessler Shows Physicality Against Grizzlies

While Kessler’s jump shot drew the attention of many Jazz fans, it was a more subtle finish he had against Memphis Grizzlies last Sunday that had the organization more excited.

Early in the second quarter Kessler caught the ball in a pick and roll with Nickeil Alexander-Walker, turned his shoulder into Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. to create space before finishing the easy hook shot.

“That play offensively really stood out to a lot of people on our staff like, ‘Wow, that’s real growth,'” Hardy said. “Because that’s not something that we’ve seen him do, but it’s also a moment for Walker to feel good like ‘Oh, I can be physical also. I don’t just have to be the defensive player that guys are constantly crashing into.'”

Kessler has already become one of the league’s elite shot blockers, averaging 1.9 rejections per game. But, unlike some of the league’s most threatening defenders, Kessler has allowed his gentlemanly persona off the floor to follow him onto the court, limiting his physical nature.

The next step for the Jazz rookie is to embrace that nastiness on both sides of the ball.

“He’s a great guy,” Hardy said, “and that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little bit of a different persona when you play the game.”

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz vs. Memphis Grizzlies...
Ben Anderson

Donovan Mitchell, Dillon Brooks Ejected After Fight

Former Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks nearly came to blows in Cleveland Thursday night. 
1 day ago
Lauri-Markkanen-Utah-Jazz-Chicago-Bulls-NBA...
Ben Anderson

Lauri Markkanen Named To First All-Star Team

Lauri Markkanen will represent the Utah Jazz in front of a home crowd after being selected to his first All-Star team.
1 day ago
Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...
Ben Anderson

Jordan Clarkson Takes Nasty Fall In Utah Snow

It's safe to say Jordan Clarkson is an official Utahn after taking a nasty fall in the winter snow in a video posted on Instagram.
1 day ago
Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen shoots against the Dallas Mavericks...
Ben Anderson

Yes, Lauri Markkanen Will Be An All-Star

The NBA is set to announce the All-Star reserves tonight and Utah Jazz fans should expect Lauri Markkanen to hear his name called.
1 day ago
Utah Jazz Center Walker Kessler goes up for a shot...
Ben Anderson

Jazz Overcome Raptors Rebounds, Kessler Dominates

Walker Kessler had one of his best nights as a pro as the Utah Jazz downed the Toronto Raptors 131-128 in Salt Lake City.
2 days ago
Utah-Jazz-Lauri-Markkanen-Houston-Rockets...
Ben Anderson

Markkanen, Kessler Outduel Raptors In Jazz Win

Walker Kessler and Lari Markkanen had big performances to carry the Utah Jazz to a win over the Toronto Raptors.
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.
Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...
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.
jimmy-buffett-tour-art...
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.
Kessler Flashes Jump Shot, But Jazz Like His Low Post Aggression