Washington

Jalen 'Stix' Smith could be first Terp to win a ring in 16 years

Washington

The Phoenix Suns punched their ticket to the NBA Finals Wednesday night for the first time since 1993, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers handily on the road in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. 

The Suns are looking for their first title in franchise history, and them winning would be a cause for celebration in the DMV as well. 

Jalen Smith, who the Suns took in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft, would become the first ex-Maryland basketball player to win an NBA championship in 16 years. The last to do it was Tony Massenburg with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005.

Other past Terps who have been a part of NBA championship teams are Adrian Branch (1987 Lakers) and Keith Booth (1998 Bulls). 

Smith has had a limited role on the Suns this year thanks to DeAndre Ayton becoming one of the best young bigs in the NBA and Phoenix's commitment to Jae Crowder and Dario Saric at the power forward spot. Smith may find his way onto the court in the Finals, though, as these playoffs have proven to be unpredictable when it comes to injuries to key players. 

In another local twist to this year's NBA Finals, Suns head coach Monty Williams has ties to PG County. He went to Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, Md. before going on to play for Notre Dame in college and five different NBA teams in a nine-year span.