Walker Kessler Out At Least Two Weeks With Elbow Sprain

Second-year center Walker Kessler suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will be reevaluated in two weeks, the Jazz announced in a press release.

According to the Jazz, Kessler initially sustained the injury during the team’s season opener on October 25. However, the injury wasn’t formally diagnosed until recently, when the 22-year-old underwent an MRI. He had been playing through discomfort the past couple weeks.

While it’s obviously unfortunate that Kessler was injured, it doesn’t sound like the UCL sprain will require surgery. The 7’1″ big man will be resting and participating in non-contact activities over the next two weeks in order to facilitate his recovery process, per the team.

Tony Jones of The Athletic first reported that Kessler would likely be out multiple games with an elbow injury.

Kessler, the 22nd overall pick in 2022, was an All-Rookie First Team selection in 2022/23 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting after averaging 9.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 2.3 BPG while shooting 72.0% from the field across 74 games (40 starts, 23.0 MPG). He was particularly effective in the second half of last season once he became Utah’s full-time starting center, averaging 11.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 2.9 BPG in 34 games (29.0 MPG).

The Jazz have gotten off to a slow start in 2023/24, currently sitting with a 2-6 record. Kessler’s numbers are down compared to his rookie season as well — he has averaged 8.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 2.1 BPG while shooting 54.9% from the floor through eight games (24.0 MPG). Obviously, the elbow injury may have been negatively impacting his performance.

With Kessler sidelined for at least the next seven games, frontcourt players like Kelly Olynyk, Omer Yurtseven and Luka Samanic figure to move up on the depth chart.

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