At the NBA Finals, you can always expect to see incredible performances by various talented players, effortless passes, and enthusiastic spectators. You may even bear witness to history being made.
Yet there’s one thing you might not think about when it comes to the NBA finals, and that is the age of the players. Just about any professional player can make their way to the NBA finals, but there’s something quite special about rookie players that you just have to learn about.
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Date: June 10, 2004
Age: 18 years and 356 days
Serbian player Darko Miličić did not have much overall playing time throughout his rookie season with the Detroit Pistons (03-04). Despite this, he became the youngest player to reach the NBA Finals and play in multiple games for the Pistons.
At the tender age of 18 years old, Miličić played in Game 3 of the 2004 NBA finals in June 2004. After achieving lots of success during these championship games, the Pistons won the 2004 NBA championship only five days later after managing to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not many players can say that they won a championship at the age of 18! To this day, he still holds the record for the youngest player to win an NBA championship.
Date: June 7, 2000
Age: 19 years and 129 days
Indiana has a detailed basketball history. However, the Indiana Pacers – the state’s professional franchise – has only reached the NBA Finals once – in 2000.
Jonathan Bender is one of the most recognizable names in Indiana Pacers history. The small forward set quite a few important records throughout his professional career.
To start, Bender was one of the youngest players ever to be drafted for the NBA at only 18 years old. He also remains one of the youngest players to ever reach the NBA Finals.
Jonathan Bender posted his most points in an NBA Finals game versus the Los Angeles Lakers on June 7, 2000, with 4 points.
Date: June 2, 2022
Age: 19 years and 239 days
Golden State Warriors Forward Jonathan Kuminga is a name to remember. Aside from being known for his impressive and explosive approach to playing, Kuminga has made lots of important history throughout his rookie season.
His playing has been a little up and down which is something you’d expect from a rookie trying to keep up in the world of professional basketball. However, Kuminga’s start in his first postseason has been anything but boring.
He made history in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies by becoming the youngest player to start a playoff game since the 70s. He was aged just 19 years, 213 days old.
Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals saw Kuminga playing with the Warriors against the Boston Celtics. Though the Warriors lost, Kuminga has made it to the list as one of the youngest ever players to reach the NBA finals.
Date: June 2, 2022
Age: 20 years and 2 days
Another one of the youngest players to reach the NBA finals is Moses Moody.
There is little doubt that Golden State Warriors rookies Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga will learn lots of important things about playing in the NBA from making it to the finals.
Not many rookies get to experience the NBA finals so fresh in their career, but shooting guard Moody is an exception. Moody has proven himself to be an exceptional asset to the Warriors throughout his career so far, especially throughout the 2022 NBA playoffs and finals.
Moody is a naturally hard worker that has taken on lots of responsibility and gained lots of trust with the Warriors. With such skill at a young age, we can only hope to see his talents grow as he progresses.
Date: May 22, 1977
Age: 20 years and 131 days
The final player on this list is Darryl Dawkins, one of the most outrageous characters that the NBA has ever seen. Dawkins was intimidating, large in stature, and possessed lots of raw and authentic talent when it came to playing basketball.
He was best known for his dunking abilities and his strong frame which allowed him to be one of the most efficient and imposing centers the NBA has ever seen.
Daryl Dawkins achieved over two steals in an NBA Finals game. He was aged 20 years and 131 days during Game 3 of the NBA finals this year — when the Philadelphia 76ers battled the Portland Trail Blazers.
Though the sixers generally played cohesively, it was the Trail Blazers who went on to clinch the championship title in 1977. However, Dawkins’ record as one of the youngest players to reach the NBA finals stayed intact — even to this day!
These are 5 of the youngest NBA players to reach the finals. While each of these rookie players has unique characteristics that set them apart from one another, they are united in their youth.