On Monday, Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz became the first NBA rookie to record at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a single game since Gorgui Dieng in 2014.
The Utah center is also the first rookie to finish a game with a 20/20 stat line on 65% shooting from the field since 1993. Plus, the 21-year-old is the first rookie in Jazz franchise history to log at least 20 points and 20 boards in a contest.
Referring to multiple NBA betting sites, Walker Kessler and the Jazz have the eighth-lowest odds to win the championship. A couple of sportsbooks are showing greater playoff odds for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers.
Walker Kessler continues to hoop this season. Tonight vs. Minnesota:
20 points (9/13)
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) January 16, 2023
In Utah’s 126-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, Walker Kessler finished his performance with 20 points, a season-high 21 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in 31 minutes of action. He finished 9-of-13 (40.9%) shooting from the floor.
“I was only here for like two days, but those guys were nothing but polite to me,” Kessler said of being traded from the Timberwolves to the Jazz. “My grandad and my dad are from Minnesota. I’ve got some extended family here I’m going to go say hey to, but it was fun. It was a lot of fun to play here.”
Jazz center Walker Kessler is the first NBA rookie to record at least 20 points and 20 rebounds on 65% shooting from the field since 1993
Minnesota fans and even casual NBA viewers are now skeptical of the Rudy Gobert trade. In July, the Timberwolves traded Kessler, Patrick Beverley (now with Lakers), Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, and five future first-round draft pick to the Jazz for Gobert.
Though, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has underperformed this season. Gobert’s averaging 1.3 blocks per game, the lowest since his rookie season. He ranks 17th in defensive rating (109.1). On another subject, with Walker Kessler and breakout star Lauri Markkanen, the Jazz could still potentially make the playoffs.
Walker Kessler is the first rookie in Jazz franchise history to record 20+ PTS and 20+ REB in a game.
He's also the first rookie to drop 20+ PTS and 20+ REB on 65%+ shooting since 1993. pic.twitter.com/KswOeUU1xD
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) January 16, 2023
Moreover, through 43 starts of his rookie season, Walker Kessler is averaging 7.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 19.5 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 71.9% from the field and 55.8% at the foul line. Not to mention, the center has recorded seven double-doubles as well.
“He’s shown so much growth on both ends of the floor, but I think defense probably comes natural to Walker in a lot of ways,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said of Kessler. “His ability to learn on the fly on the offensive end has just been tremendous.”
While Gobert is struggling, Kessler is surprising some Jazz fans. The No. 22 overall pick of last year’s draft ranks fourth in blocks per contest, third in total blocks (85), and 15th in offensive rebounds (112).
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