A pair of former Illini now with the Miami Heat will take part in the 2020 NBA Finals, as the Heat face the Los Angeles Lakers.
Meyers Leonard is in his eighth NBA season after being selected at No. 11 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft lottery. He is in his first season with the Heat after spending the first seven years of his pro career with the Portland Trail Blazers. Leonard averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds during the regular season, shooting nearly 51 percent from the field and better than 41 percent from 3-point range. He scored a season-high 21 points in a win over Houston (Nov. 3) and grabbed a season-best 14 rebounds in a victory at Orlando (Feb. 1).
Leonard played two years at Illinois from 2011-12. He averaged 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds (third in Big Ten) and 1.9 blocks (first in Big Ten) as a sophomore, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. He ranked 11th in the nation in field goal percentage (.584) and tallied 60 blocked shots, which remains the third-highest single-season total in school history.
Kendrick Nunn was a first-team All-Rookie selection after averaging 15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists for the Heat during the regular season. He scored in double figures 52 times with 19 outings of 20-plus points, led by a career-high 36 in a win over Atlanta (Dec. 10).
Nunn played three years at Illinois from 2014-16. He was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection, averaged 11.1 points as a sophomore, and was second on the team in both scoring and rebounding as a junior, averaging 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Nunn transferred to Oakland University and played there as a senior.
Leonard and Nunn are the first Illini to compete in the NBA Finals since Deron Williams appeared with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017.
Former Illini in the NBA Finals
1955 – John Kerr, Syracuse Nationals #
1955 – Wally Osterkorn, Syracuse Nationals #
1955 – Andy Phillip, Fort Wayne Pistons
1956 – Andy Phillip, Fort Wayne Pistons
1957 – Irv Bemoras, St. Louis Hawks
1958 – Andy Phillip, Boston Celtics
1974 – Steve Kuberski, Boston Celtics #^
1975 – Nick Weatherspoon, Washington Bullets
1976 – Steve Kuberski, Boston Celtics #^
1994 – Derek Harper, New York Knicks
1995 – Nick Anderson, Orlando Magic
2004 – Brian Cook, Los Angeles Lakers
2017 – Deron Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers
2020 – Meyers Leonard, Miami Heat
2020 – Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat %
# Team won NBA championship
^ Finished college career at Bradley
% Finished college career at Oakland
2020 NBA Finals Schedule (All Times CT and Televised on ABC)
Game 1 – Sept. 30, 8 p.m.
Game 2 – Oct. 2, 8 p.m.
Game 3 – Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m.
Game 4 – Oct. 6, 8 p.m.
*Game 5 – Oct. 9, 8 p.m.
*Game 6 – Oct. 11, 6:30 p.m.
*Game 7 – Oct. 13, 8 p.m.