Walker Kessler has blocked 158 shots this season.
How big of a number is that?
- That’s fourth place in the league this season.
- Since 2000, only four rookies have matched or exceeded that number. (Pau Gasol, Mitchell Robinson, Andrei Kirilenko, Walker Kessler)
- Rudy Gobert has only matched or exceeded that number four times in his career.
- Only seven other Jazz players have blocked over 150 shots in a single season.
Clutch blocks... that's Walker Kessler's thing.— NBA (@NBA) March 21, 2023
The @utahjazz rookie center helps seal a second-consecutive game on the defensive end! pic.twitter.com/PS1f5ToYVU
With such a historic start to his career, it’s natural to wonder if Kessler might be on pace to break Utah Jazz records for blocks. Unfortunately for the rookie, he happens to play for a franchise that had the legend Mark Eaton for eleven years. Eaton’s 3,064 blocks tower over Andrei Kirilenko’s 1,380 and Rudy Gobert’s 1,357 on the figurative leaderboard, like Eaton towered over his opponents. Eaton, Tim Duncan, and Hakeem Olajuwon are the only players to record more than 3,000 blocks with one team.
Even those stats don’t truly show how unbreakable Eaton’s record is. Let’s put it into perspective.
For Walker Kessler to break Mark Eaton’s Jazz block record, he would have to average over 200 blocks per season for 15 years. I’m not sure that’s even possible with the way the game is played today. Very few players historically have played 15 seasons with one team, and it’s been six years since the last time any player blocked 200 shots in a season (Rudy Gobert, 2016-17).
Blocks are becoming more rare each passing year in the modern NBA, so it’s unsurprising that block records set in the ‘80s and ‘90s are looking insurmountable. For Kessler, he’ll have better luck shooting for second place in Utah’s record book. At his current rate of 2.3 blocks per game, it would take him just over 531 more games (6.4 seasons of 82 games) to surpass Gobert and Kirilenko. That per-game average could even be higher since he spent much of this year on the bench. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could challenge those records by the end of his second contract.
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
The Utah Jazz have a long history with great rim protectors, and Walker Kessler is making his mark on it.