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Six Players With Local Ties To Play In NBA Conference Finals

Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets congratulates Damian Lillard #0 the Portland Trail Blazers on their win during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semi-Finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on May 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Only four teams are left in the NBA Playoffs as the Conference Finals begin, six players participating in the two series have ties to the state of Utah, whether they played for the Utah Jazz or college basketball in the Beehive state.

Just one player with ties is playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, while five players are in the Western Conference Finals.

Three players are playing for the Portland Trail Blazers and two for the Golden State Warriors.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

The former Weber State Wildcat helped the Blazers reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. Lillard is averaging a career-playoff-best 28.4 points per game this postseason. He is also posting 4.8 rebounds and 6 assists per game in the 12 playoff games thus far.

Lillard has scored over 30 points in five playoff games this year, including 50 points in Game 5 of the first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, when he hit a 37-foot buzzer beater to send the Blazers to the second round.

For the regular season, Lillard averaged 25.8 points, 6.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.

The Blazers were swept in the first round in both the 2017 and 2018 playoffs before winning two series this season.

Rodney Hood, Portland Trail Blazers

Hood has been a key player off the bench for the Trail Blazers in the second round of the Playoffs. The former Jazzman is averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in the postseason.

He scored just 16 points in the five game series with Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, but has scored in double figures in 5 of the 7 games against the Denver Nuggets in the second round. Hood’s best playoff performance this season was in Game 6 against the Nuggets when he scored 25 points.

The four-year veteran has recently been bouncing around the NBA since he was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 2014 draft. He played two and a half seasons with the Jazz before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. After 45 games with the Cavaliers this season, Hood was traded to Portland.

While he was with the Jazz, Hood averaged 13.1 points and 3.1 rebounds.

He left Game 7 of the Blazers win over the Nuggets with a hyper-extended knee and is listed as day-to-day.

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers

Kanter was waived by the New York Knicks after 44 games in the Big Apple this season. When he signed with the Trail Blazers, it turned out to be one of the more important signings. That’s because the Blazers lost starting center Jusuf Nurkic for the season with a broken leg.

The former Jazzman has easily had his best playoff season of his career. He is in his fourth postseason and averaging 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Kanter was drafted by the Jazz with the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He spent three and a half seasons with the Jazz and averaged 9.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

On March 6, 2019, former Ute Andrew Bogut was signed with the Golden State Warriors. It was to help bolster the front court and provide depth for the big men. The longtime NBA veteran is in his fourth postseason with the Warriors, including winning a championship in the 2014-15 season. This year, Bogut is averaging 3.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 11 minutes per game in the playoffs.

Jonas Jerebko, Golden State Warriors

Former Jazzman Jonas Jerebko is in his first season with the Warriors. In the Playoffs, he has appeared in 8 games and has posted 1.1 points per game. He spent last season with the Jazz, playing in 74 games and recorded 5.8 points per game.

George Hill, Milwaukee Bucks

The NBA veteran and former Jazzman started the 2018-19 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being traded to Milwaukee after 13 games in Cleveland. He has averaged 12.1 points and 3 assists per game during the Bucks playoff run.

He spent the 2016-17 season in a Jazz uniform and averaged 16.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.