The Atlanta Hawks should make a push for Utah Jazz C Walker Kessler

The Hawks should target a trade for Utah Jazz big man Walker Kessler, who comes from Atlanta, which would make him a fan favorite.
Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets
Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks have already made some serious moves this offseason, none bigger than when they traded Dejounte Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans for two first-round picks, Dyson Daniels, and Larry Nance Jr.

Despite their blockbuster deal with the Pels, the Hawks are not done making a splash. It is no secret that Atlanta is actively shopping Clint Capela’s expiring contract. If they do trade Capela, the Hawks will need a replacement big man.

Ideally, the Hawks could attempt to snag a center more aligned with the timeline of No. 1 overall pick Zaccharie Risacher and young star Jalen Johnson.

Enter Walker Kessler.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Kessler played high school basketball at Woodward Academy in College Park, GA – where Atlanta’s G League team, the College Park Skyhawks, is located. Kessler placed third in Rookie of the Year voting last season, averaging 2.3 blocks in only 23.0 minutes per game for the Utah Jazz. 

In 40 games as a first-year starter, Kessler posted averages of 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks. The Auburn product shot an incredible 72.0% from the field.

Walker Kessler fits the Atlanta Hawks’ timeline and could be available for trade

At 22 years old with only two years of NBA experience under his belt, Kessler would fit Atlanta’s timeline perfectly. The seven-footer suffered somewhat of a sophomore slump last season thanks to the logjam of big men in Utah. After drafting Kyle Filipowski in June, the Jazz only added to their plethora of young bigs. 

The NBA rumor mill has run rampant with Jazz-related trade talks involving Kessler and star forward Lauri Markkanen. While Markkanen has the most value of any Utah player, both he and Kessler would likely require serious draft capital in a potential deal.

Kessler’s defensive prowess and offensive upside make him a dream trade target for the Hawks. With a 30-year-old Capela slowly declining on both ends of the floor, Kessler could come in and give Atlanta a serious jolt of energy. 

Kessler even sank a handful of threes last season. If the young big man can become somewhat of an outside threat, he would bring a floor-stretching element to Atlanta’s center position that they have never gotten from Capela. Capela has only attempted five 3-pointers during his 10-year career.

The Atlanta Hawks could cook up an enticing deal for the Utah Jazz

With the arrival of Risacher, the Hawks have much less use for a player like De’Andre Hunter. Atlanta could whip up a package including both Hunter and Capela to make a push for Kessler.

On top of Kessler and Markkanen, several Jazz players have popped up in trade rumors this offseason. With All-Rookie point guard Keyonte George settled in as Utah’s floor general of the future, the Jazz may be willing to move some of their other guards for a significant return of players and picks.

This Soaring Down South trade scenario would be an absolute home run for the Hawks if they were willing to part with several future picks.

Hawks-Jazz (BG)

This deal would send first-round picks in 2025 (top-12 protected via SAC) and 2029 along with second-rounders in 20205 (via MIN), 2027 (via LAC), and 2028 (via HOU) to Utah while giving the Hawks two young talents in Kessler and Collin Sexton, along with a microwave bench scorer in veteran shooting guard Jordan Clarkson.

In addition, a rebuilding team like the Jazz would likely value Capela’s expiring contract and the kind of cap space it could lead to the following summer.

The Jazz also lack true small forwards like Hunter on the wing.

The No. 12 seed often rolled out unorthodox lineups with three guards or three big men on the floor at once. This move for Utah would pave the way for George to flourish in his sophomore season alongside a more experienced group of teammates with greater defensive discipline.

Whether they go all-in for a blockbuster deal or try to get Kessler in a simple 1-for-1 trade with picks involved, the Hawks need to consider pursuing one of the most promising rim protectors in the NBA.