ESPN published their annual ranking of the Top 25 Players Under 25 Years Old. The Jazz have had a few player appearances on this list through the years, and this rendition is no different. Fresh off a summer that included Team USA appearances, Walker Kessler is viewed as a rising player in the NBA ranks.
Kessler came in at 20th this year, and at just 22 years old, he’ll likely be a feature on this list for a few more years! Here’s what they had to say about the Sherriff:
20. Walker Kessler | C | Utah Jazz
Age: 22 years, 104 days
2023-24 stats: 7.3 PPG | 6.9 RPG | 1.9 BPG
When Kessler stepped into the starting lineup last season, he quickly established himself as one of the league’s better defensive centers. 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. If he’s ever able to add a reliable 3-point shot, he could jump way up this list. Even if he doesn’t, Kessler is a worthy heir to Rudy Gobert as the anchor of Utah’s defense.
Walker will be the first to admit that this season has not started the way he would have wanted. All of his stats are down from a season ago when he was honored as an All NBA Rookie. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted his personal frustrations in a piece published just a few days ago.
This slow start has not impacted Will Hardy’s belief in him as a foundational piece on the roster. Walker is hard on himself, so it will take some time to overcome that feeling of underperformance and increased pressure. As he works through that, his perception around the league is still that of a budding young star learning to take that next step in the league.
How high can he climb in next year’s ranking?