ESPN Names Walker Kessler To Top 25 Under 25 List

Nov 7, 2023, 3:28 PM

Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) jumps to block a shot attempt by Phoenix Suns forward Torrey C...

Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) jumps to block a shot attempt by Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (0) during an NBA game against the Phoenix Suns (Credit: Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

(Credit: Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler was named to ESPN’s Top 25 NBA Players Under 25 list for the 2023 season.

The second-year big man made the list after earning All-Rookie honors last year as he quickly developed into the Jazz’s starting center of the future.

ESPN releases the Top 25 Under 25 list every year, though no Jazz player made the cut last season.

Walker Kessler Named To ESPN Top 25 Under 25

Kessler was one of only four centers to make the list. Ranked number 20 among all top 25 players, the Auburn product was ahead of Alperen Sengun (25th, Houston Rockets), and Jalen Duren (21st, Detroit Pistons), but behind rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama (3rd, San Antonio Spurs).

“When Kessler stepped into the starting lineup last season, he quickly established himself as one of the league’s better defensive centers,” Tim Bontemps of ESPN wrote. “The Jazz were a full 6.5 points worse per 100 possessions with Kessler on the bench as a rookie, and he is a perfect long-term building block next to Lauri Markkanen in Utah’s frontcourt.”

Kessler has gotten off to a slow start in his sophomore season averaging 8.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks, all lower than his rookie season numbers.

He’s also shooting just 55 percent from the floor after nearly leading the NBA last season at 72 percent.

“If he’s ever able to add a reliable 3-point shot, he could jump way up this list,” ESPN added. “Even if he doesn’t, Kessler is a worthy heir to Rudy Gobert as the anchor of Utah’s defense.”

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic topped the list, while Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards was ranked second.

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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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ESPN Names Walker Kessler To Top 25 Under 25 List