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Three former IU basketball players in NBA Finals, set to win ring regardless of result



Three former IU basketball players are in the NBA Finals and set to win a ring regardless of result. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

No matter what happens in the 2023 NBA Finals, at least one former IU basketball player will walk away with a championship ring.

Following the Miami Heat’s Game seven win on Monday night, Cody Zeller (Heat), Victor Oladipo (Heat) and Thomas Bryant (Denver Nuggets) will square off in the Finals. The Nuggets defeated the Los Angles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Game one of the NBA Finals will is on Thursday, June 1 at 8:30 pm ET.

Cody Zeller enters this matchup with the biggest role out of the three former Hoosiers. After signing with the Heat in late February, Zeller carved out a nice reserve role throughout the remainder of the season and playoffs. He played in 15 games (two starts) during the regular season and averaged 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. In the postseason, Zeller has played in 16 games averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 9.2 minutes a game.

Zeller was drafted No. 4 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

A teammate of Zeller’s is Victor Oladipo. Unfortunately, Oladipo suffered a season-ending injury earlier this postseason which will keep him out of the NBA Finals. Oladipo has struggled with injuries over the last few years but had found a home with the Heat.

A critical member of their bench rotation earlier this year, Oladipo averaged 10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 26.3 minutes per game during the regular season. He played in 42 games with two starts. In the postseason, he played in just two games, averaging 11.5 points in 22.5 minutes per game.

Oladipo was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Opposite of Zeller and Oladipo is Thomas Bryant. Bryant was acquired midseason by the Nuggets after a successful first half of the year with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 41 games (25 starts) with the Lakers, Bryant averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Following the trade to Denver, Bryant saw action in 18 games (one start) in the regular season. He averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. Bryant has not played in the postseason.

Bryant was drafted No. 42 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.

There have been seven former IU basketball players to win an NBA Championship. The last to win was OG Anunoby in 2019. This will be the second season in a row with a former IU basketball player in the Finals. Juwan Morgan represented the Hoosiers last season with the Celtics.

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s going to be my job to bridge the gap’: Mike Woodson’s vision for IU basketball is coming to life

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.