With the San Antonio Spurs potentially winning their way to a play-in game, they could be moving down in the draft. However, they are guaranteed a couple of picks in the second round of the draft and that’s where we turn our gaze this week. A big man who should find himself available to the Spurs in the second round and that’s Walker Kessler of Auburn. The 7-foot-1, 245-pound sophomore has turned into a rim-protecting machine.
Kessler has been impressive in his first year at Auburn after barely seeing the floor at UNC in his freshman year. He leads the SEC in blocks and is second in the country in that category.
Now that he’s had the chance to shine and play a much bigger role, he’s proven to be an integral part of Auburn’s 22-1 record so far on the season. Here are his stats so far this season.
- 11.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 4.2 BPG
- 63.3 FG%, 17.6 3P%, 68.1 FT%
- 32.1 PER, 129.0 ORtg, 82.2 DRtg
The sophomore big man has shown much more of what he can do at Auburn and that has made him a viable draft prospect, likely landing in the late stages of the first round or the early stages of the second.
He can play with his back to the basket as well as shoot it in the mid-range a little bit. He’s capable of taking slower defenders off the dribble, but shouldn’t make any moves fancier than a straight-line drive to the rim or he tends to lose the ball.
Kessler has had a triple-double with blocks already this season and it’s easy to see why. He is disciplined when it comes to pump fakes. He doesn’t jump on them and he’s excellent at keeping his hands straight up to make shooters get their shot over him.
So even when he isn’t blocking shots, he’s altering them with his 7-foot-6 wingspan. He’s a bit heavy-footed so he shouldn’t get out on the perimeter to guard wings, but he can certainly keep up with bigger forwards and true centers.
While Kessler does quite a few things well, he will have to fix up a few fundamental issues to stay on a roster. He has to correct his shooting mechanics, which are a bit clunky and make his shot slow. He also needs to work on his foot speed so he can guard those quicker forwards and stay in front of them.
The last thing he needs to work on is improving his playmaking, including passing out of double teams and tightening up his handle.