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Walker Kessler makes the NBA All-Rookie First Team

A very deserving award for a stellar rookie season

Utah Jazz v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA announced the 2023 All-Rookie teams and Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz was named to the 1st team.

It’s another impressive recognition for Kessler, who had one of the most surprising seasons in the league. As a rookie, he got better each month and eventually supplanted Jarred Vanderbilt in the starting lineup. That development allowed the Jazz to eventually trade Vanderbilt and get yet another 1st round pick (a top-4 protected pick from the Lakers).

Even with limited minutes to start the season, Kessler was one of the best shot blockers/rim protectors in the league. In his rookie season, Kessler was the #4 shot blocker in the entire NBA at 2.3 blocks per game. That number is astounding, considering Kessler was coming off the bench for nearly the entire first half of the season.

Kessler was also a dominant force rebounding the ball. In the last 15 games, Kessler was the #15 rebounder in the league at 9.7 per game. Again, that is an impressive number considering he was averaging 27 minutes per game in that stretch. You can do the math of what he’d do with even more minutes.

The raw numbers jump off the page, but watching him play, he passes the eye test in a major way too. Kessler is a force on the offensive glass and changed games with his ability to create extra possessions. He has special hands, and if a ball is near him, he gobbles it up. The obvious area he shines is on the defensive end, where his knack for defensive positioning, as well as impeccable timing, will make him a candidate for DPOY and All-Defensive teams for years to come.

Speaking of All-Defensive teams, you can bet this will be the last season that Kessler isn’t a part of these teams, his defensive prowess will demand recognition in years to come.