The NBA playoffs get under way this week, and Arizona will once again be well-represented. Six former Wildcats are on teams competing for the NBA title – five if you don’t count Andre Iguodala, who is nursing a fractured left wrist.
Here are the former Arizona Wildcats to watch out for in the NBA playoffs.
Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets
Gordon is the second-leading rebounder and fourth-top scorer for the Nuggets, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Gordon averaged 16.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3 assists during the regular season. He shot a career-high 56.7% from the field.
On paper, Gordon has the best chance to reach the Finals of any former UA player. The Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic, have been the best team out west for most of the season. Denver’s postseason history is murky, however, as the Nuggets have never won a conference championship.
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Ayton averages 18 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Suns, the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Ayton has averaged a double-double all five seasons he’s been in the NBA. Phoenix will play the No. 5 seed LA Clippers in the opening round. The series begins Sunday, April 16 in Phoenix.
Zeke Nnaji, Denver Nuggets
Nnaji has emerged as an important role player for the top-seeded Nuggets, averaging 5.2 points and 2.6 rebounds on 56.1% shooting. In Denver’s season-finale against Sacramento, he scored 18 points on 8-16 shooting, which should give the 22-year-old some confidence heading into the postseason.
Christian Koloko, Toronto Raptors
Koloko played in 58 games for the Raptors in the regular season, averaging 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14 minutes. Koloko leads the team in blocks with 1 per game. Though Koloko’s minutes went down as the season progressed, he provides significant size for the Raptors, which could come in handy if they make a playoff run. Toronto, the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference, plays Chicago Wednesday in the NBA Play-In Tournament.
Dalen Terry, Chicago Bulls
Terry averaged 2.2 points and 1 rebound for the Bulls, playing in 38 regular season games. Chicago put Terry to use (while resting starters) in its last two games, as he played a combined 31 minutes. It would be surprising to see Terry get much playing time should the Bulls make a run in the playoffs, but the experience should nevertheless behoove him going forward.
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
It’s doubtful that Iguodala will make much of an impact for the Warriors this postseason as he’s still recovering from a March wrist surgery. Iguodala has publicly stated that this is his last season in the NBA, so it’s likely that we’ve seen the last of Iggy’s professional basketball days. Still, Iguodala has a chance to win a fifth NBA title if the Warriors were to go on a run and repeat as champions. Golden State faces Sacramento in the first round, beginning Saturday.