By now, you’ve heard everyone’s opinion on the Rudy Gobert trade. It’s been widely panned in the national media, and many fans are concerned about its long-term ramifications for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But Bill Simmons poured some salt in the wound on his latest podcast with Kevin O’Connor and Tate Frazier. He said Walker Kessler, who the Wolves took 22nd overall, would be a top-5 pick in a redraft.
It all started with a compliment for fan-favorite Luka Garza and went downhill from there.
“In the Sunday games, Luka Garza came in for Minnesota and had like a little drop-step,” said Simmons. “He had a put-back. I was like, let’s go!! Centers, Walker Kessler, centers might come back.”
“Did you know that Walker Kessler was gonna be Bill Russell last year as you were watching?” he asked Tate.
Tate Frazier, a die-hard UNC fan, responded by saying he was upset that former Tar Heels coach Roy Williams buried Kessler on the bench in college.
“Unbelievable,” Simmons exclaimed. “Like if we had redrafted that, he’s one of the top five picks from last year, there’s no question.”
“Definitely top ten, right?” Kevin O’Connor responded.
“Like with Kessler, Kyle Mann and I discussed this on…our live show we did in Utah. He’s a top high school player. He’s a top college player. Wins Defensive Player of the Year. And yet, you couldn’t have expected him to be this amazing this soon in the NBA.
“For Utah, he’s better than Rudy Gobert ever was offensively because he has ball skill, like you said, Tate. He can handle a little bit, he can pass out of short roll a little bit, even shot a three the other night.”
“Yeah,” Tate responded. “That’s why he transferred out of Carolina because he was like, ‘I wanna shoot threes,’ and they were like, ‘That’s not what we want to do here.’”
Simmons gave Tate a hard time about UNC basketball, saying that ‘Uncle Roy’ Williams botched his handling of Kessler.
“Kessler should watch Lopez tape and just try to emulate that game,” said Tate. “And I feel like if he does that, we’re talking about –”
“How about Brook Lopez should watch some Walker Kessler tape?” Simmons asked, cutting Tate off.
Is Walker Kessler the next Bill Russell? Probably not. But he’s having an incredible year for Utah, while the Wolves have fallen to .500 after the Gobert trade. The Jazz probably wouldn’t trade Kessler for Gobert straight-up right now, and Minnesota mortgaged their future for Gobert. Safe to say, this trade hasn’t aged very well.