UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Rookie Walker Kessler Speaks On Rising Stars Selection, Rookie Wall

Feb 14, 2023, 3:02 PM | Updated: Feb 15, 2023, 10:00 am

SALT LAKE CITY – In a recent interview, Jazz Rookie Walker Kessler talked about his Rising Stars selection and the infamous ‘rookie wall’.

Kessler said that he’s looking forward to playing in the Rising Stars challenge in front of the Utah crowd.

“It was, obviously, a great honor. I’m really excited about it,” Kessler said. “Going into this year, I just focused on trying to learn as much as I can. But, I’m super excited and super thankful. I’m excited to represent Utah.”

Kessler was traded twice before he played a game. Jazz fans should be ecstatic that the Auburn big man ended up in Utah.

“I’ve been on three teams already,” Kessler said. “It’s been unbelievable. I’m so thankful to the staff here, my teammates, the state, and the city. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them. I’m just continuing to focus on trying to win and doing what I do.”

Coming into an organization with a lot of moving pieces, a lot of things were unknown for Kessler and the Jazz. Once he hit the starting lineup, theres been no looking back.

“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t know what my role was going to look like,” Kessler said. “Obviously, protecting the rim and being a presence on the glass. Since I’m starting now, it’s evolved a little bit. I’ve had more asked of me.”

Kessler has had multiple games with 6-7 blocks. He said that getting a triple-double with blocks is a goal of his.

“No question,” Kessler said. “Hopefully I’ll get one this year. I think I’ll for sure get one next year with blocks. We’ll see what happens.”

Many rookies go through a so-called ‘wall’ in their debut season. This could be a mid-season shooting slump or even lingering stamina issues due to the long season. Kessler said that he hasnt had any issues yet.

“I think it’s more of a mental thing, I haven’t hit it,” Kessler said. “Everyone has done a great job helping me through it all, so I don’t feel like I’ve hit it. I feel like what has helped me is focuind on keeping a routine and taking it one day at a time. I can definitely see how it’s real. But, knock on wood, I haven’t hit it yet.”

Walker Kessler As A Rookie

RELATED: Jordan Clarkson Excited For NBA World To Experience Utah

The former Auburn Tiger has had impressive stats in his rookie campaign. He is averaging 7.7 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 71.5%.

Kessler’s 2.0 blocks per game is good for fourth in the NBA. He only trails Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton, Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, and Indiana’s Myles Turner.

Walker Kessler came in and filled the hole left by Gobert nicely. Despite averaging more blocks than him this year, Kessler has said that he appreciates Gobert’s game and even modeled his defensive game after him.

Kessler flew under the radar at first, but his impact has since gained league-wide attention. Kessler was recently top-3 in the Rookie of the Year ladder.

Chandler Holt is a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter at @ChandlerHoltKSL.

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Jazz Rookie Walker Kessler Speaks On Rising Stars Selection, Rookie Wall