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Walker Kessler Made NBA History With His Jazz Debut

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SALT LAKE CITY – Walker Kessler made history for the Utah Jazz in his first rookie game.

The first-year tall player had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while shooting a perfect 5-5 from the ground.

Kessler is the only player in NBA history to shoot a double-double while shooting 100% off the field in his first rookie game.

A remarkable feat for the rookie coming out of Auburn. More than 4,700 players have set foot on an NBA court, and none have matched his stat line.

Even more impressively, much of Kessler’s work has come against two-time MVP Nikola Jokic in the Jazz’s season opener defeat of the Denver Nuggets 123-102.

“You’re in your first NBA game and with Nikola Jokic on the court, it’s a whole different deal,” said Jazz coach Will Hardy. “And we had a lot of senior guys who really helped him with that. And Walker was great, he did it, he made a lot of great plays.”

Kessler also thanked the Jazz veterans who helped him with his historic debut.

“Playing with Mike [Conley] Pick and roll is like the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kessler said. “Being patient with it and keeping her man away, so it helped me a lot.”

Before the game, Kelly Olynyk, who started in the Jazz, explained the difficulties Kessler will face in his first game.

“It’s going to be a lot of learning for him,” Olynyk said, “to learn on the fly and move on to the next game and not go up and down too much no matter what.”

Although Kessler made history for the Jazz, he wasn’t perfect. Center shot 2-6 from the free throw line and misplaced himself on several of the team’s offensive positions.

The rookie, who apologized to the coaching staff for missing free throws after the match, did not notice his mistakes.

“This is just a kid like him,” Hardy said. “He works really hard, he wants to win and he’s trying to learn. Double-double and your first NBA game is really great.”

The rookie also became the first player in Jazz history to score a double-double in his first game.

Before Kesler Joined Jazz

Kessler was one of five players traded to the Jazz by the Minnesota Timberwolves for Rudy Gobert.

The tall man was one of the nation’s top recruits who graduated from high school and was appointed to the University of North Carolina in the summer of 2020. After seeing limited minutes with the Tar Heels as a freshman, Kessler transferred to Auburn and blossomed quickly. In Bruce Pearl’s system.

In his sophomore year, Kessler averaged 11.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and a staggering 4.6 blocks, shooting 60 percent off the ground in just 25 minutes per game.

Last season, Kessler was named Naismith and the NABC National Defensive Player of the Year and set a one-season college record with 155 blocks.

The Auburn product was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 22nd overall pick before being diverted to the Timberwolves on draft night.