SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Walker Kessler has been rewarded for an outstanding first season with the Utah Jazz, earning All-Rookie First Team honors on Monday.
Kessler is the eighth rookie in franchise history to be named to the squad, which honors first-year NBA players’ standout seasons.
Kessler joins Donovan Mitchell (2018), Trey Burke (2014), Deron Williams (2006), Andrei Kirilenko (2002), Karl Malone (1986), Thurl Bailey (1984), and Darrell Griffith (1981) as the eighth Jazzman to make the All-Rookie First Team.
Kessler played in 74 games (40 starts), averaging 9.2 points on 72.0 percent from the field, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.0 minutes per contest. His 2.3 blocks per contest led all rookies and ranked fourth among all NBA players in 2022-23, with his 8.4 boards ranking second among all first-year players. After the All-Star break, the 21-year-old owned averages of 12.4 points on 73.6 percent shooting, along with 10.8 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game, which was the most swats per contest in the NBA during that span.
Kessler became only the eighth rookie in NBA history to record at least four games with seven-or-more blocks in a single season and first since Tim Duncan in 1997-98, also joining Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93), Alonzo Mourning (1992-93), Manute Bol (1985-86), Hakeem Olajuwon (1984-85), Mark Eaton (1982-83), and Terry Tyler (1978-79).
On the road against Minnesota on Jan. 16, Kessler became the first rookie in team history to log a 20-20 performance, totaling 20 points, 21 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. It was the first 20-20 performance by a rookie in the NBA since 2014. He also totaled a career-best 31 points on 14-of-16 (.875) field goals, along with 11 boards and a block at Sacramento on March 25, becoming the fourth rookie in NBA history to log a 30-10 double-double while shooting over 87 percent from the field (Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Brooks, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
On December 2nd against Indiana, the 21-year-old was when he posted 20 points on 7-of-7 from the field and 11 rebounds, becoming only the fourth rookie in NBA history to record a 20-point, 10-rebound game without missing a field goal.
NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams, Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin and Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray join Kessler on the All-Rookie First Team.