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Should Walker Kessler be calling out defensive coverages?

Former Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell offered the Jazz big man some friendly advice when the teams met last week. Here’s what he told him.

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Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler battles for position with New Orleans forward Naji Marshall in Salt Lake City, Dec. 13, 2022.

Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler battles for position with New Orleans forward Naji Marshall in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Following Donovan Mitchell’s return to Utah last Tuesday, he was spotted on the court having a quick post-game chat with Jazz rookie Walker Kessler.

When Mitchell was asked what the two talked about, he kindly obliged by saying that he was telling the young center not to let the opposing team know what kind of defensive coverage he was going to play.

“He calls out what coverage he’s going to be in before he is in it,” Mitchell said. “So, he called ‘drop’ which means you’re going to be back so I’m like, cool, I gonna shoot a 3. ... I told him ‘guys who shoot 3s off the dribble, they’re gonna go at you, but don’t tell them the answer to the exam before it comes.’ But he’s gonna be really good, man. He’s a really humble kid, he’s gonna be really solid.”

The thing is, players call out what kind of defensive coverages they’re going to be in everyday in the NBA.

When Mitchell and Jazz coach Will Hardy talked after the game, Mitchell told Hardy what he’d said to Kessler, and Hardy has a different take on the situation.

Is Walker supposed to be calling out the defensive coverage?

“Yes,” Hardy said. “I would say 98% of the players in the NBA call out the defensive coverage. Teams say ‘ice,’ teams say ‘red,’ teams say ‘blue, teams say ‘drop.’ Donovan is really good. I wish we could have a code that he wouldn’t know.

“... He’s not wrong, that it did tip him off to what was going on but, we’re at a different stage with Walker and with our team in terms of we need to just make sure that we know what we’re doing before we try to disguise from the other team. Donovan played great, so I’m not sure that us saying any confusing words would have stopped him.”

Maybe in the future the Jazz might try to be a little more subtle, but there’s just so many other things that they’re focused on in developing the young players and trying to figure out what works best for them. So, Kessler isn’t in any trouble just yet.

New with the Jazz

Last week in Jazz history

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This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew welcomes special guest Tom Sexton to talk about Kentucky basketball, Jarred Vanderbilt, the upcoming trade deadline and Donovan Mitchell’s return to Vivint Arena.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

Stat of the week

On Tuesday, Jordan Clarkson scored nine points in 40 seconds, leading the Jazz in a comeback win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished the night with 32 points.

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Extra points

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Jan. 16 | 2 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves | AT&T SportsNet

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Jan. 20 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Brooklyn Nets | AT&T SportsNet