According to ESPN, Walker Kessler is #10 in their NBA rookie rankings this week.
The best shot-blocker in college basketball last season, Walker Kessler has made the transition to the NBA look seamless, already ranking as the NBA's most prolific shot-blocker with a gaudy 4.3 blocks per 40 minutes. ESPN rookie power rankings: https://t.co/djrJUS6alz pic.twitter.com/uA69CDbJtK— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) December 5, 2022
Here’s what Jonathan Givony had to say about the Utah Jazz’s surprising rookie.
Kessler has been a pleasant surprise for the Jazz, who acquired him a week after the draft in the Rudy Gobert trade. The best shot-blocker in college basketball last season, Kessler has made the transition to the NBA look pretty seamless, already ranking as the NBA’s best rim-protector with a gaudy 4.2 blocks per 40 minutes. Kessler has shown a good understanding of how to be effective within Utah’s drop defensive scheme, showing good timing playing cat-and-mouse games with guards and using verticality and his 7-foot-4 wingspan to his advantage.
Offensively, he’s a low-usage option for the Jazz but does a good job of crashing the offensive glass and presenting himself around the basket as a rim-runner, cutter or pick-and-roll finisher, setting screens quickly and diving to the rim with purpose. Kessler will need to improve his passing ability, show some range on his jumper and increase his 57% free throw percentage to show he can shoulder a bigger offensive role, but he has been effective in the role he’s asked to play.
Givony is right with everything he says here, but what probably needs to be added here is the poise and demeanor of Kessler. He doesn’t look lost or nervous when he’s on the court and you can tell he knows he belongs there. It’s a blast to watch and let’s hope that he can keep this level of play up as he continues to grow in his role with the Jazz.