Why isn’t Walker Kessler playing for the Utah Jazz in the Summer League?

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Walker Kessler isn’t playing for the Utah Jazz this Summer League, but why?

Walker Kessler is one of the key pieces of the Utah Jazz’s future. He quickly became one of the defensive anchors of the team, and despite being just one year into his career, he’s already among the NBA’s best defensive centers. He finished sixth in defensive RAPTOR, ahead of Jaren Jackson Jr., Jarrett Allen, and Bam Adebayo. Kessler is already among the league’s best defensive bigs.

Despite already being among the league’s best interior defenders, he still has room to grow as an offensive player, so getting some work in during the NBA’s Summer League wouldn’t have been the worst idea. After all, it’s not uncommon for second-year guys to play in the Summer League, even if they’re already a starter.

Former Utah Jazz legend Deron Williams played in two Summer Leagues in his career. Sure, he only played in two games the second time around, but he still suited up to get some work in. So why didn’t Kessler?

Well, if you didn’t know, Kessler is in fact spending his summer playing for Team USA in the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

While it isn’t the same as playing with his future teammates and working on his craft, playing for Team USA is not only an honor but one that will bring him some much-needed seasoning. One of the reasons that foreign players come in and perform as well as they do is because of international play.

Kessler will likely get some minutes when the FIBA World Cup kicks off on Aug. 25, and considering a lot of the guys he’ll face aren’t NBA players, that means he’ll get to see an entirely different style of basketball.

Since FIBA has some different rules than the NBA, most notably the lack of a three-in-the-key rule, Kessler is going to be able to not only work on his defensive techniques, having to play more reactionary but also will get to work on improving his offensive game.

He’ll have to adapt to a new set of rules, and that will force him to work on his technique and fundamentals. Will it turn him into Tim Duncan or Joel Embiid? No, but it’s not crazy to think that he’d turn into a better version of Mark Eaton.

Next. 5 Trades to clear the Utah Jazz’s big man logjam. dark