Kessler recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal to help the Jazz to a 123-102 win over the Denver Nuggets at Vivint Arena. He had seven points in the second half and went a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in 23 minutes of work.
With the performance, Kessler became the first rookie in team history to produce a double-double in his first game. He was also the first rookie ever to record a double-double while shooting 100% from the field in a debut.
“That’s pretty neat,” Kessler told the Utah Jazz Radio Network. “That was a blast. The environment was incredible. We had so many scorers. I don’t know how many guys we had in double figures — it must have been at least six or seven. I love this team. I love this place.”
The performance came after Kessler had a strong run with the Jazz in the preseason. He averaged 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in four games off the bench. He emerged as a strong rebounder and rim protector and showed that once again on Wednesday.
Kessler was active defensively and had a number of nice finishes on offense, including a few over Nikola Jokic. He was ultra critical of his free-throw shooting, after going 2-of-6 from the line, but hilariously vowed to correct that moving forward.
Walker, asked about his “apology” for missing FTs: “Ok — about that: I said, ‘Coach, I gotta hit more FTs.’ Does that sound like an apology?”
Told that it kind of does, he laughed: “There goes the media, twisting my words!”
— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) October 20, 2022
Kessler was among the standouts in training camp and could emerge as an impact player on both ends of the court off the bench this season. He will likely still have some growing pains but looks to have a bright future ahead in Salt Lake City.
Utah returns to action on Friday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.