The NBA Playoffs Have Taken On A Decidedly Michigan Tone
There is one thing every team remaining in the NBA Playoffs has in common.
All Four Teams In The Conference Finals Have a U of Michigan Player On Their Roster
As the NBA Playoffs advanced to the Eastern and Western Conference Final stage this week, it's clear that for the first time since 2013, the University of Michigan will have a world champion basketball player to tout.
All four remaining teams have at least one former UM player on their roster, thus guaranteeing the school a player on the title team. The last UM player to earn a NBA championship was current coach Juwan Howard, who earned a ring as a member of the 2013 Miami Heat, who defeated the San Antonio Spurs is six games to win the title.
Here are this year's UM title contenders and their respective teams:
Boston Celtics -- Nik Stauskas
Nik, who began his 2021-22 season right here in Grand Rapids, playing for the Gold of the G League, was picked up late in the season by the Celtics.
Stuaskas was drafted eighth overall in the NBA draft after his sophomore season at Michigan by the Sacramento Kings, where he failed to make an impact. After shuffling around the NBA and the minor G League, he was picked by the Denver Nuggets, who assigned him to their affiliate in Grand Rapids, where he found new life.
Stauskas scored 57 points in a game for the Gold against the Wisconsin Herd. He was a member of the NCAA Runners-up for Michigan in 2013, his freshman year. He was recruited to Michigan by then coach John Beilein. He is originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Miami Heat -- Duncan Robinson
Boston's opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals will be the Miami Heat, led by former UM sharpshooter Duncan Robinson. Robinson, who transferred to Michigan from Division III Williams College, immediately had an impact for the Wolverines, leading the Big Ten in three point shooting.
He was on the Wolverines team that lost to Villanova in the NCAA Finals in 2018. He went undrafted, and signed a Summer League contract with the Heat in 2019. He immediately had an impact for the Heat as a sixth man.
Dallas Mavericks -- Trey Burke
Trey was a superstar at Michigan, leading the Wolverines to the NCAA title game in 2013 (with Stauskas), where they fell to Louisville. He was Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten and then left school and was picked ninth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, landing with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who then trade him to the Utah Jazz.
He finished third in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, and then was traded to the Washington Wizards.
Like Stauskas, Burke was well traveled in the NBA being released and traded several times before returning to the Dallas Mavericks in 2020 as a back up point guard. In his first game back with the Mavericks, he scored 31 points and made a career high 8 three pointers in a 153–149 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Golden State Warriors -- Jordan Poole
Poole, a high school standout from Milwaukee is best known by Wolverines fans for his last second buzzer beater against Houston in the 2018 NCAA Tournament that propelled them to the title game, where they lost to Villanova.
Like Robinson, Poole was best known for his three point shooting, and after his sophomore season in 2019, he left for the NBA, where he was drafted 28th overall by the Warriors.
Poole got his first big break when starting shooting guard Klay Thompson went out with an injury in the 2021 season, giving Poole the starting job. He was relegated back tot he bench early his season, but still made an impact, scoring over 30 points twice, and was in the running for the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
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