Grant Williams Among Tennessee-Based Players In NBA Finals

Posted on June 15, 2022

Only two teams remain on this year’s tumultuous road to the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors meet for a sixth game this Thursday.

Our hometown Memphis Grizzlies may be long out of the running, but there’s still plenty of local representation out there on the court. Let’s take a look at the players on each NBA Finals team who have ties to Tennessee.


Boston Celtics players representing Tennessee in NBA Finals

Grant Williams — F

Grant Williams

First and foremost, I’ll start off with my favorite player making this list — none other than University of Tennessee alum Grant Williams. The young star averaged 15.7 points per game as a Vol.

As a pro, he made an astounding debut last year. Moreover, he’s already made history in the NBA Playoffs by breaking Steph Curry’s record for attempted three-pointers in a Game 7 matchup.

Williams is one of the many talented Tennessee Volunteers now in the NBA. And if his achievements continue to peak, he could very well become the League’s next Curry.

In a fitting battle between fresh blood and seasoned talent, Williams and Curry are pitted head-to-head in this Finals faceoff. A win for the Celtics means Williams could soon reign supreme as the new Tennessee king of the NBA.


Luke Kornet — F

Luke Kornet

Williams isn’t the only one of Boston’s players in the NBA Finals with a fondness for Tennessee.

Forward Luke Kornet was born north of the Volunteer State in Lexington, KY. Before launching into his pro career, though, he found a home for himself in Nashville while attending Vanderbilt University.

Kornet made his NBA debut in 2018 as a New York Knick and has since been shuffled from team to team, returning to the Celtics for this NBA Finals stretch.

Although he only saw one minute of play during the Celtics’ most recent Game 5 bout with the Warriors, he made it a productive one, scoring three points and snagging one rebound.


Matt Ryan — F

Matt Ryan

Fellow forward Matt Ryan also joined the team this year after spending a stint in the great Volunteer State.

Ryan was born in White Plains, NY, going on to play college basketball at Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. During his senior year at Chattanooga, he averaged 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 30.6 minutes of playing time in the 33 games he played.

He made his first official NBA appearance as a Celtic this past April 10 against the Grizzlies. He saw just over five minutes of play in this debut performance, logging three points and a steal.

Unfortunately, Ryan has yet to return to the floor and is currently listed as inactive.


Jaylen Brown — SG

Jaylen Brown

While not technically a player with Tennessee ties, Jaylen Brown grew up just south of the border in Marietta, Georgia. The five-star recruit played for the California Golden Bears before being selected as the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

This is Brown’s sixth season as a Celtic, but it’s his first year visiting the NBA Finals. Brown made his entrance in grand fashion, helping the Celtics secure a Game 1 victory by contributing 24 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists within his 28 minutes on the floor.

He’s continued to be a valuable asset for the team, playing an entire 44 minutes in Monday’s Game 6. In all, he’s averaged 38 minutes, 21.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his five Finals appearances so far.


Golden State Warriors from the Volunteer State

James Wiseman — C

James Wiseman

Born right here in our very own Nashville, 21-year-old point guard James Wiseman remained true to his Tennessee roots in college by joining the Memphis Tigers. He might’ve only played one season there before joining the big leagues, but he made sure to make his short, three-game college stint a memorable one. During the 69 minutes he played, Wiseman logged a whopping 59 points.

The Warriors then quickly selected Wisement No. 2 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. He’s now played for the Warriors and their G-League counterpart for the past two seasons.

Unfortunately, Wiseman suffered a knee injury back in April and has not seen the court since. Before that, the 7’0″ center was averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

He’ll remain sidelined for the remainder of the Finals. However, Wiseman will likely return to the court this July as Summer League begins.


Chris Chiozza — PG

Chris Chiozza

Point guard Chris Chiozza is Golden State’s other west Tennessee native. Born in Memphis, Chiozza attended high school at White Station in Shelby County. He ultimately played college ball for the Florida Gators — though we won’t hold that against him.

Chiozza has yet to see any time on the court during the Finals, however. In fact, he hasn’t played since the end of March, when he posted 20 minutes and logged 6 points against the Grizzlies.


Warriors vs. Celtics: Game 6 NBA Finals odds

The Warriors and Celtics return to the court this Thursday for Game 6 of this nail-biting back-and-forth.

Golden State leads the series 3-2, meaning they only need one more win to lock in the championship. The Celtics, on the other hand, will need to secure two more victories in order to claim dominion.

The series moves to Boston’s own TD Garden for Game 6, where the Celtics hold a 28-13 home record for the season. The Warriors carry a 22-19 away record — slightly worse than Boston’s 23-18 away game record for the 2022 regular season.

Oddsmakers situate the Warriors with a -point spread deficit going into the game, making Boston the favored team here. The Celtics may be one game behind in the series, but they’re favored in this upcoming matchup with a moneyline of  odds.

The over/under for this game sits at points — a relatively high number given the two teams averaged 204.8 points in the previous five games. The only game to hit the over so far would have been Game 1, where the Celtics rallied for a 120-108 victory.


Photo by AP/Mark Humphrey
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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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