Walker Kessler was the lone highlight in an otherwise terrible outing against the Atlanta Hawks

The Utah Jazz at least saw Walker Kessler have the best game of the season against the Atlanta Hawks.
Feb 27, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) dunks against the Atlanta
Feb 27, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) dunks against the Atlanta / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz's most recent outing against the Atlanta Hawks was one of the worst performances the team has had all season. There's no real surprise as to why. The veterans have thrown in the toll because the leaders did. When you see your better defenders traded away, it's hard to see the reason to compete. If the team isn't serious about competing why should players be?

Now, you should always do your job, but it's understandable why a guy like Lauri Markkanen, who's never been to the playoffs, isn't having his best outings. While we haven't been the biggest Jordan Clarkson fans in the world this season, he's 31. How many more good years does he have to chase a ring? We get the frustration. Then you combine it with the youthful frustration that comes with playing three rookies, all at varying stages of their careers so far, and yeah. You're going to have a lot of lethargic outings.

Which is why we're pretty happy with Walker Kessler at the moment. Will Hardy has done a bad job with him, sacrificing his playing time for guys like John Collins and Taylor Hendricks, neither of whom are performing better than Kessler? Yet, against the Hawks it looked like Hardy finally let Kessler off the leash, so to speak.

In his home state of Georgia, a byproduct of Auburn University, Kessler went off, having arguably the best performance of the entire Jazz squad against the Atlanta Hawks. He racked up a double-double, putting up 14 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. All while shooting 6-8 from the floor and tacking on an additional two blocks to his stat line.

Yet, it wasn't the stat sheet that impressed us most with Kessler, it was his energy. While even the commentators mentioned how sluggish and disengaged the Jazz looked, especially to start the game, the minute Kessler got in he was tearing up the court.

That energy was effective as it helped the Jazz claw back into the game somewhat. Turnovers, poor shot selection, and a general disinterested demeanor caused the Jazz to get blown out.

For the sake of Danny Ainge, Justin Zanik, and Hardy, you better hope that these outings aren't frequent to close out the season. Ryan Smith didn't spend all that money on this team to see a potential winner wasted for an outside shot at a draft pick.