Walker Kessler has massive shoes to fill for the Utah Jazz. Not only was he one of the assets that got traded for Rudy Gobert but he is the defensive stalwart's likely replacement.

Kessler, a rookie out of Auburn drafted with the 22nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, is joining a team whose defense relied heavily on Gobert. Although he was a fantastic interior defender in college, his ability to defend will be tested mightily. Not only will have to get used to better competition but he is joining a team whose defensive infrastructure around him is highly questionable.

The 7-foot-1 center had a major impact at the college level. As he helps usher in a new era in Utah, he could be a key player right away. Here are three bold predictions for Walker Kessler's rookie season for the Jazz.

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3 bold predictions for Walker Kessler in his rookie season with Jazz

3. Kessler becomes the starting center all season

Although the Timberwolves drafted Kessler a week before news of the Gobert trade broke, it can be safe to suggest that Utah had an interest in Kessler. The Jazz traded their star big man to Minnesota and only got one center in return. They also have not signed a center in free agency.

The only other center currently on Utah's roster is Udoka Azubuike, who has played just 32 games in two seasons so far. Kessler, being younger and having more defensive potential, should be able to win out the starting spot. No addition in free agency, save for Deandre Ayton, would 100 percent jump Kessler on the depth chart right now.

The only reason Kessler doesn't start is that Utah still tries to remain competitive. They are reluctant to trade Donovan Mitchell even though he is still not untouchable in trades, so they may want a more experienced center alongside him.

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2. Walker and Jalen Duren go neck-and-neck on the rookie double-double leaderboard

Walker seems like a likely pick to lead all rookies in double-doubles. Given his size, he should have plenty of 10-point, 10-rebound games. The one player who could challenge him the hardest is Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren, who was drafted with the 13th overall pick.

Duren isn't as big as Walker but is noticeably more mobile, which should give him an advantage on longer rebounds. At 6-foot-11, the soon-to-be-19-year-old big man has a strong motor and long arms that will make him a pest on the boards.

Chet Holmgren will most likely be a contender on the leaderboard but still has to put on some muscle before he can be a true board crasher. Walker and Duren should be strong rebounders from the get-go. So long as they get the opportunity to play all season long, they will be competing tightly on the double-double leaderboard for first-year players.

1. Kessler becomes one of the league leaders in field-goal percentage 

The simple reason Kessler can have one of the highest field-goal percentages is that almost all his shots will be close to the hoop and/or assisted. Although this achievement may not be super impressive, it is something Kessler can do that will help the Jazz.

The Jazz can use Kessler just as they used Gobert: a constant screener and roller to the hoop. He has the touch around the rim to convert close shots that he can't dunk. Though he isn't exactly a post-up scoring machine, he was very efficient around the hoop in college.

In all likelihood, Kessler will end up shooting somewhere in the 60-percent range on around six attempts per game. It may not make him one of the most entertaining rookies but it should allow him to cement a spot as Utah's center of the future.