The NBA Finals are set — the Denver Nuggets will face the Miami Heat starting on June 1. As we patiently await the Finals, let’s take a look at the four former Washington Wizards who will be playing, all for the Nuggets.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2021-22)
Caldwell-Pope, a champion with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, was shipped to the Wizards in the infamous 2021 trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Lakers. KCP averaged 13.2 points while starting in all 77 of his games for Washington, but GM Tommy Sheppard traded him to the Nuggets in 2022 in exchange for Will Barton and Monte Morris. Morris is a serviceable starting point guard, but Barton was bought out during his first year in Washington and currently resides at the end of the Raptors’ bench (I dove deeper into this trade in a piece earlier this week).
KCP has been everything the Nuggets could have hoped for, starting all 76 of his games this year while shooting a blazing 42.3% from deep. His consistent shooting and stifling point-of-attack defense have made him a key piece of the Nuggets’ success, and he will likely be rewarded with another championship ring.
Jeff Green (2018-19)
Uncle Jeff suited up for the Wizards for one season in his illustrious 11-team journeyman career. During his season in Washington, he averaged 12.3 points and four rebounds per game for a team that finished 32-50.
At 36 years old, Green is now the second guy off the bench for a Nuggets team playing in the NBA Finals. Green played 20 minutes per game during a regular season in which the Nuggets spent much of the year coasting, but he has dialed up the heat in the playoffs so far. Green is averaging just four points per game in the playoffs, but he has been pivotal to the Nuggets’ outstanding defense. Check out this athletic block on LeBron James from Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals:
Thomas Bryant (2018-22)
Here’s where we get to the part of the list where the players are “playing” in the Finals. Thomas Bryant spent four seasons with the Wizards before signing with the Lakers last offseason and then being traded to the Nuggets at the deadline. Bryant had a quiet season and has been out of the Nuggets’ rotation for most of his tenure. In fact, he has not entered a single game this postseason, but he probably won’t be too upset about that fact in the strong likelihood he wins a ring in the coming weeks.
Ish Smith (2019-21, 2022)
Ish Smith, the journeyman who has played for a record 13 different NBA franchises, was traded to Denver alongside KCP after spending parts of the last few seasons with the Wizards. Smith, like Bryant, has not really been a part of the Nuggets’ Finals run, as he has not played since the second round, where he logged 7 total minutes. That being said, Smith winning his first ring on his 13th team would be a great way for him to wrap up his career.