Leaving the second half of Sunday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets with a head injury, Utah Jazz rookie center Walker Kessler will be evaluated for a possible concussion (h/t Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune). With just four games remaining, that could spell the end of the big man’s season.
He had six points and eight rebounds — including four offensive rebounds — in 21 minutes before exiting the contest. It was his first game without a block since Feb. 10.
Kessler has been a revelation for the Jazz this season, which is what makes his potential absence so significance. Although Utah was expected to tank after trading away Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and most of their veterans from last season, the Jazz aren’t even out of playoff contention at 36-42.
However, while the improvement of Lauri Markkanen has been the primary factor in their success, one could argue that Kessler has been the singular most important player for Utah outside of the Finnish forward.
He averages 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 72.0 percent from the field, a superb interior force on both ends of the floor. In an era where a lot of centers have a guard skillset, Kessler keeps it simple, being the team’s safety net around the rim whether they’re on offense or defense.
Honestly, Kessler could already be the fourth best shot-blocker in franchise history behind former defensive star Mark Eaton, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and three-time All-Defensive selection Andrei Kirilenko.
Thats what makes him so fascinating, let alone relevant.
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