Home Entertainment Rising stars Scottie Barnes and Walker Kessler join Raptors Jazz

Rising stars Scottie Barnes and Walker Kessler join Raptors Jazz

by Ana Lopez
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Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes learned Tuesday that he would travel twice in February, even though Eastern Conference teams only make a trip to Salt Lake City once a season to play the Utah Jazz. The first visit is for the Jazz game on Wednesday night.

Then, on February 17, Barnes will return to the Beehive State to compete in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. According to the NBA Utah will also participate in the Rising Stars competition, hosting it for the second time. The Jazz’s Walker Kessler was one of 11 rookies chosen for the annual award.

The 2021-2022 Rookie of the Year, Barnes, 21, averages 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game this year. After contributing 24 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots in Toronto’s 129-117 loss to Golden State last Friday, Barnes recently received some high honors from Warriors star Draymond Green.

Green told The Athletic:

“He could be much better than me. “I recently saw a tweet that said ‘Scottie Barnes’ floor is Draymond Green.’ And that’s a damn good floor. And I believe it. He’s such a special talent.”

It is common for the 7-foot Kessler to be compared to Rudy Gobert, the All-Star player he took Rudy Gobert’s spot in Utah. Kessler has impressed in his first NBA season despite falling short of Defensive Player of the Year by blocking an average of two shots in 20.2 minutes per game.

Rising stars Scottie Barnes and Walker Kessler join Raptors Jazz
Rising stars Scottie Barnes and Walker Kessler join Raptors Jazz

In addition to averaging 7.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, Kessler, who is 21, also shoots an impressive 71.5 percent from the field. He was selected by Memphis last summer with the 22nd overall pick and after being traded twice since the draft, has established himself well in Utah.

Kesler said:

“I am grateful to my teammates and coaching staff. “I couldn’t do it without them. Very, very excited. Very, very grateful. Very blessed. I keep rambling on, so I better stop, but I’m very grateful.”

Since Gobert’s offseason sale to Minnesota, the Jazz’s defense hasn’t been nearly as strong, but Kessler has filled more of that vacuum than expected. And he was a relatively small part of the draft Utah received in exchange for Gobert.

Jazz coach Will Hardy said:

“The physical tools he has give him the opportunity to be successful. “He has shown so much growth on both ends of the floor. I think defense probably comes naturally to Walker in a lot of ways, but his ability to learn offense on the fly was tremendous.

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In his 15 starts, Kessler has increased his output to 10.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 26.0 minutes. The Raptors are 2-2 to begin their seven-game road trip heading into their Wednesday matchup. Fred VanVleet told reporters after Monday’s 114-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns:

“We need every win we can get. It’s just tight time. “It’s not the time for us to try to get moral victories. We need real victories.”

See tweet below:

Utah has won four last six games, including a 108-100 victory over Dallas on Saturday. Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points to lead the Jazz, and Kessler finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds in addition to five blocks.

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