Mid-May is one of the best times of the year in the sports calendar, as the MLB season is in full swing, plus the NBA and NHL playoffs are also ongoing.
There’s only four teams left in the NBA playoffs, and all four of those teams have a former Wolverine on them. Michigan is the only university that can say they have a former player on each of the remaining teams.
There’s quite a few former Michigan Wolverines to root for in these playoffs. Here’s a run down of who to root for U-M fans.
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
Poole has been a key piece for the Golden State Warriors and in his first 12 playoff games, he has already made his presence felt.
Jordan Poole said “I’m really Him! I’m really Him!” pic.twitter.com/EJWCQ9UEtZ— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) May 8, 2022
Poole has scored 20 points or more in six of those games, including 30 points in Game 1 win against the Denver Nuggets and 31 points in Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies. He also had 19 points off the bench in their Game 1 win in the conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
The young guard has grown into one of the go-to scorers for the Warriors. If they go on to win another NBA Championship, he’ll play a huge part in it.
Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat
After going off for 27 points and eight-made threes against the Hawks in the first round, Robinson really hasn’t played much.
He’s sadly racked up a few DNP-CD’s, including not seeing the floor in three games against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, only seeing the floor for 19 minutes total in that series. And he remained on the bench for the entirety of Game 1 against the Boston Celtics last night.
Robinson has seen his minutes being given to Max Strus, a better, more sturdy defender who has made 41.0% of his threes this season. Hopefully Robinson gets to see the floor more as the playoffs goes along.
Nik Stauskas, Boston Celtics; Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks
While it’s great to see all three of these former Wolverines still in the playoffs, none of them have really played many minutes, if at all, in these playoffs.
Stauskas has only seen the floor in garbage time. Burke has appeared in eight of the Mavericks’ 13 playoff games, but he’s only gotten more than five minutes once, and that was in the Game 7 blowout of the Phoenix Suns.
After having left foot surgery, Hardaway Jr. hasn’t appeared in these playoffs at all and it seems unlikely he’ll return.
Andrew Cogliano, J.T. Compher, and Jack Johnson, Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are the best team in hockey having gone a perfect 5-0 so far in the NHL playoffs, but that does not guarantee them a Stanley Cup. As they can attest.
Two Wolverines will have a large impact on their ability to sustain success en route to the Cup: Andrew Cogliano and J.T. Compher.
Cogliano and Compher have most recently been fourth- and third-line forwards respectively in the postseason. Compher has filled in as second-line center for Nazem Kadri when injured and appeared in every game of the playoffs. While only appearing in two games so far, the veteran Cogliano has provided great depth for this team and rotated in the fourth line, most recently in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues.
Combined thus far in the playoffs, the duo has accounted for two goals, two assists and total points.
Defensemen Jack Johnson has been a healthy scratch during the playoffs, but has been a bench leader and culture guy for the young Avalanche team. At age 35 and having appeared in more than 1,000 games, Johnson is still chasing that elusive Stanley Cup. The closest he came was In 2012, but Johnson was traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Columbus Blue Jackets months before the Kings would embark on an underdog journey to the Stanley Cup.
The Avalanche currently hold a 1-0 series lead over the St. Louis Blues.
Andrew Copp, New York Rangers
Ann Arbor native and University of Michigan graduate Andrew Copp has been an invaluable trade deadline acquisition for the New York Rangers. In their opening round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Copp averaged a point per game, totaling four goals and three assists during their 3-1 series comeback victory.
New York became the first team in NHL history to rally from a 3-1 deficit AND trail in Games 5, 6 and 7. The Rangers have fully embraced their mantra of #NoQuitInNY.
Zach Hyman, Edmonton Oilers
For the first time in his young NHL career, Oilers superstar Connor McDavid is advancing to the second round of the playoffs. One of the biggest reasons why this finally came to fruition is the consistent play of offseason free agent signing Zach Hyman.
While his contract term of seven years was initially worrisome, Hyman posted career highs in goals (27), assists (27) and points (54) during the regular season to ease concerns. In the opening round series against the Kings, Hyman chipped in a pair of goals and assists in Edmonton’s 4-3 series win.
Hyman’s physical blue collar style of play has been a great complement alongside McDavid and Leon Draisaitl all season and will be at an even higher premium against the Calgary Flames. Hyman will be an X-factor tasked with slowing down the stellar, physical offense of the Flames with a trip to the conference finals on the line.
Jack LaFontaine, Carolina Hurricanes
Backup goaltender Jack LaFontaine has not appeared in the postseason for the Carolina Hurricanes and barring injury or disaster, will not this season.
LaFontaine’s name might appear foggy in your memory of Michigan’s Frozen Four appearance in 2018, but it was LaFontaine who split time with Hayden Lavigne during the first half of the season before ceding the starting job to Lavigne permanently down the stretch.
LaFontaine left the Michigan program following that season and eventually settled into a starting role with the Minnesota Golden Gophers where he became and All-American in the 2020-21 season.
His decision to join the Hurricanes this past January — in the middle of college hockey season — was controversial, as he left a team that would eventually reach the Frozen Four.