UTAH JAZZ

Kessler Climbs Near Top Of NBA Rookie Rankings

Jan 25, 2023, 2:06 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz rookie Walker Kessler has catapulted up near the top of the NBA’s latest rookie rankings.

The first-year center reached number three on the league’s rookie ladder after moving into the starting spot for the Jazz in place of the injured Kelly Olynyk earlier this month.

Kessler sits behind Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers sixth man Bennedict Mathurin.

Kessler Rookie Rankings

Kessler sat at number five in last week’s rookie ratings before jumping up to the third spot past the midway point of the NBA season.

The Jazz rookie has made seven straight starts for the team since Olynyk left the lineup with an ankle injury on January 8, and has averaged 11.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.

Despite his aggressive shot-blocking instincts, he’s managed to stay out of foul trouble averaging just 2.4 personal fouls per game.

Last week Kessler trailed both Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Jaden Ivey of the Detroit Pistons but jumped them both in the latest rankings.

A testament to Kessler’s improvement this season, the Jazz center is the only player ranked in the top 12 of the NBA’s rookie ladder that was drafted outside of the top 17 picks.

Kessler was the 22nd pick by the Memphis Grizzlies before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night. The shot-blocking wunderkind was then redirected to the Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade.

Kessler Has Had Historic Rookie Season

Kessler’s momentum on the NBA’s rookie ladder is no surprise for those who have tracked him since the regular season began.

The Jazz rookie because the first player in league history to record a double-double while shooting 100 percent from the floor in their NBA debut.

Earlier this month, Kessler became the first rookie since 2014 to record a 20/20 game when he scored 20 points and grabbed 21 rebounds against the Timberwolves in an impressive road win.

Kessler also added a career-best four assists against the Timberwolves hinting there may be another level to his offensive game.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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