Utah Jazz Center Walker Kessler Starts Hot In Oklahoma City

Mar 3, 2023, 6:23 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – On the heels of being named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month for February, Walker Kessler scored the Jazz’s first six points Friday night.

The Jazz (31-32, 9th in West) begin a six-game road trip with two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder (28-34, 13th in West).

After back-to-back buckets helped keep Utah close while OKC started fast, a pair of Jazz rookies combined for a highlight dunk.

Rookie guard Ochai Agbaji drove to the hoop before dropping off a perfect pass for his fellow rookie. Kessler

Kessler is averaging 8.2 points, eight rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as a rookie. He already has six points, three rebounds and a block tonight against the Thunder.

Utah trails Oklahoma City 19-12 with 6:55 left in the first quarter.

RELATED: Playoff, Draft Position At Stake As Jazz Open Series With Thunder

Ryan Smith Talks Next Jazz TV Broadcast Deal

In an interview with Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone, Smith laid out his thoughts on the Jazz TV broadcast negotiations.

“I want every single Jazz fan, no matter where they are in the state and beyond, to be able to watch our games in any format that they want to,” Smith said, “and I want it to be easy.”

The Jazz’s current contract with AT&T SportsNet expires this offseason. The team will have a new broadcast partner next year.

“I think our partnership with AT&T has been great,” Smith said. “At the same time, [only] being able to provide our games to 30, 40, 50 percent of the possible fans in the state is not ideal for anyone.”

RELATED: Jazz Center Walker Kessler Named Rookie Of The Month

While the team’s broadcast future remains up in the air, Smith said he’s taking a hands-on approach with the next contract.

“These partnerships need to be journeys together, as opposed to — we signed a deal and we don’t look at it for 10 years — that never goes well,” Smith said. “I think we’re entering a new phase of these types of partnerships and I’m excited  [about] where it’s going to be.”

Is OKC Tanking?

Like the Jazz, the Thunder must decide which direction they plan to take to finish the season. Chasing the playoffs or improving their draft stock.

The Thunder are just 2.5 games back of the 10th and final spot in the play-in tournament and own the fourth easiest schedule to close the year.

OKC could increase its playoff odds considerably with wins over the Jazz this weekend. To do it, they would risk harming their draft position.

RELATED: Ryan Smith: I Want Jazz Fans To Watch Games ‘In Any Format’

The Thunder currently own the seventh-worst record in the NBA and could set themselves up to add another valuable top-10 draft pick to an already talented roster before making a true playoff push next season.

Utah Jazz Vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder game is being televised on AT&T SportsNet. It can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

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