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Wolverines in the NBA: Two set for play-in tournament, seven locked in for playoffs

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie04/15/24


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Michigan Wolverines basketball will be well-represented in the NBA postseason. The play-in tournament to decide the final two seeds in each conference will begin Tuesday night (April 16), and two former U-M standouts will be fighting for playoff bids this week.

Former Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin and the Atlanta Hawks are the No. 10 seed in the East and will play the ninth-seeded Chicago Bulls Wednesday night (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Bufkin has dealt with injuries this season but is healthy at the right time, averaging 6 points in 13.4 minutes per game in eight appearances this month to close out the regular season.

Former Michigan forward Duncan Robinson and the Miami Heat will also be in action Wednesday night, the eighth seed taking on the No. 7 seeded Philadelphia 76ers (7 p.m. ET on ESPN).

The sharpshooter ranks second on his team with 2.8 made threes per game. He’s been dealing with a back injury as of late, forcing him to miss the final four regular-season tilts.

“I’m trying to just take it day by day right now and keep an open mind to just how I feel and everything,” Robinson said of his injury April 9. “But the most important thing is just trying to get to a point where I can be available to help us in any capacity, whatever that looks like going forward.”

Here’s a simple explanation of the play-in tournament, from “The tournament begins with the seventh-placed team in each conference playing the eighth-placed team while the ninth-placed team plays the 10th-placed team. The winner of the 7-8 game will secure the seventh seed in the playoffs, while the loser will meet the winner of the 9-10 game for the eighth seed.”

Meanwhile, seven other former Michigan players have cemented their spots in the playoffs.

The four Wolverines on the Orlando Magic — Jett Howard, Caleb Houstan, Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner — earned the No. 5 seed in the East. They’ll play a first-round, best-of-seven series with former U-M guard Caris LeVert and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Two former Michigan players will go head-to-head in the West, with forward Moussa Diabate and the fourth-seeded Clippers set to take on guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and the fifth-seeded Mavericks.

Here are final regular-season stats for every former Michigan player in the NBA.

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Kobe Bufkin (played at U-M from 2021-23), G, Atlanta Hawks

The former Michigan guard appeared in 17 games off the bench, averaging 11.5 minutes per contest … Put up 4.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 37 percent overall and 22.5 percent (9-of-40) on three-pointers … The Hawks are 10th in the East at 36-46 and will play the No. 9 seed Bulls to begin the play-in tournament.

Moussa Diabate (2021-22), F, Los Angeles Clippers

Averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per game with 11 appearances for the 51-31 Clippers, who earned the No. 4 seed in the West and will take on fifth-seeded Dallas in the first round.

Tim Hardaway Jr., (2010-13), G, Dallas Mavericks

Started 12 of 79 contests, averaging 26.8 minutes per night, his lowest amount since the 2015-16 season with the Atlanta Hawks … Registered 14.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while connecting on 40.2 percent of his overall shots and 35.3 percent of his three-point tries … The Mavericks finished 50-32 and are the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.

Caleb Houstan (2021-22), G, Orlando Magic

The former Michigan guard averaged 4.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game with 59 appearances and 13 starts … The Magic were 47-35, earning the No. 5 seed in the East and a matchup with No. 4 seed Cleveland.

Jett Howard (2022-23), G, Orlando Magic

Spent his rookie season up and down between the NBA and the G League’s Osceola Magic … Appeared in 18 clashes, totaling 29 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 67 minutes.

Caris LeVert (2012-16), G, Cleveland Cavaliers

The former Michigan guard registered 14 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 28.8 minutes per tilt, playing in 68 games with 10 starts … Shot 42.1 percent overall and 32.5 percent from long range … The Cavaliers concluded 48-34 and earned the No. 4 seed in the East.

Isaiah Livers (2017-21), F, Washington Wizards

Traded from the Detroit Pistons to the Wizards Jan. 14 but didn’t play for his new team, missing most of the season with a hip injury.

Jordan Poole (2017-19), G, Washington Wizards

Started 66 of 78 games for the 15-67 Wizards (14th of 15 teams in the East) … Averaged 17.4 points (second on team), 4.4 assists (second) and 2.7 rebounds per contest, while shooting 41.3 percent overall and 32.6 percent from three-point distance … His 2.4 made triples per game led the squad.

Duncan Robinson (2013-17), F, Miami Heat

The former Michigan sharpshooter averaged 12.9 points, 2.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 28 minutes per game with 68 appearances and 36 starts … Shot 45 percent overall and 39.5 percent on threes, making 2.8 triples per game to rank second on the team behind Tyler Herro (3.1) … The Heat are 46-36 — eighth in the East — and set to take on the No. 7 seed Philadelphia 76ers to begin the play-in tournament.

Zavier Simpson (2016-20), G, Memphis Grizzlies

Signed a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies to conclude the season, after playing for the G League’s Motor City Cruise all year … He appeared in seven contests for the 13th-place team in the West … Averaged 6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 23 minutes per game … Made 31.5 percent of his field goal attempts and 29.4 percent of his three-point tries.

Franz Wagner (2019-21), F, Orlando Magic

The former Michigan standout started all 72 games in which he played, averaging 32.5 minutes per night … Put up 19.7 points (second on team), 5.3 rebounds (third), 3.7 rebounds (second) and 1.1 steals (second) per game … Connected on 48.2 percent of his overall shots and 28.1 percent of his three-pointers.

Moritz Wagner (2015-17), F/C, Orlando Magic

Played in 80 games with one start, averaging 17.7 minutes per clash … Recorded 10.9 points, 4.3 boards and 1.2 assists per clash, while shooting 60.1 percent overall and 33 percent on threes … His 60.1 field goal percentage lead the team among those with over 4 attempts per contest.

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