The Golden State Warriors have just won the title of NBA champion 2022. Within them, there are three very young players who have, discreetly, marked history by their simple presence in the group coached by Steve Kerr. Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman all made the top 15 youngest players to win a title. This is what this list now looks like where precocity is rewarded.
15- Phil Walker (Washington), 22 years and 79 days (1978)
An anecdotal university career in the small college of Millersville in Pennsylvania, a Draft in relative anonymity in the 2nd round in 1977, but… an NBA championship title during his only season played in the elite of world basketball. Nicknamed “Grump”, Walker made 40 regular season appearances with the Washington Bullets during his rookie season and 4 in the playoffs as a shooting guard, obviously overshadowed by Elvin Hayes, Bob Dandridge and Wes Unseld. That year, the franchise from the federal capital won the Finals against the Sonics after game 7, after being led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2.
14- Jamaal Wilkes (Golden State), 22 years and 23 days (1975)
Here is already with a former player of the Warriors and a sacred size. Wilkes is probably too little known to the general public, but we are still talking about a fairly phenomenal player and a Hall of Famer (2012). Before this title of 1975 with the Warriors of Rick Barry, the one which allows him to be present in 15th place, the Californian winger had already won two NCAA championship titles under the orders of the great John Wooden at UCLA.
In ’75, the then rookie winger (and voted Rookie of the Year), actively participated (11.5 points and 9.8 rebounds on average) in the Dubs’ coronation in the Finals against the Washington Bullets. His defense on Elvin Hayes, one of the biggest clients at the time, had been fantastic and acclaimed, although Barry obviously caught the light and was voted Finals MVP.
Later, Jamaal Wilkes joined the Showtime Lakers and gleaned three new titles between 1980 and 1985, although he did not participate in the playoffs last season due to a knee injury.
13- Rick Weitzman (Boston), 22 years and 2 days (1968)
When Rick Weitzman, a young back from Massachusetts and a member of the US Jewish Athletes team, was drafted in the 110th position and in the 8th round of the 1967 Draft by the Celtics, he did not necessarily imagine he would last long in the NBA. And yet, his only season with the Boston superpower allowed him to win a title before falling back into anonymity.
Weitzman made 25 small appearances alongside stars Bill Russell and John Havlicek, for 1.3 points per game on 26% shooting, before observing the 1968 Finals from the front row. The Celtics there dominated the Lakers (4-2) by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Today, Rick Weitzman can tell his grandchildren that he played a game in the Finals and that he scored the only basket he attempted. Not all grandfathers have such stories to tell their descendants!