After an exciting week of THE TIPOFF action, the real important matches begin with the start of the NBA 2K League regular season on Friday and Saturday.
Last week answered a lot of what was on the mind of NBA 2K League fans heading into the season, but it also brought up plenty of questions. We’ve got 10 of them right here. Some of these won’t be answered until the champions get their rings in August, and some of these may be answered in the first week. Either way, it’s gonna be fun.
These aren’t all the questions we have, but they are some of the immediate ones that pop to mind. Let’s get into it.
1. Can 76ers Gaming Club sustain their TIPOFF success?
Radiant showed out, ZDS was a breakout star and the rest of the 76ers GC cast played their parts perfectly.
It was an incredible week of NBA 2K for THE TIPOFF champions 76ers Gaming. The team took an early loss to Blazer5 Gaming in Group C then rattled off five straight wins to hoist ⅓ of THE BANNER CHAIN.
No one really saw it coming. Most preseason predictions put the 76ers somewhere in the middle of the league, at best. But a system of heavy ball movement along with individual performances that added up to a great team performance made them look like the best team in the league.
Will we see more of that dominant 76ers Gaming or will there be a hangover from last week?
2. Was Heat Check Gaming’s THE TIPOFF performance a fluke or a sign of things to come?
On the flipside of what 76ers GC did is what Heat Check Gaming did.
Considered an early contender, the team took big losses in Group D and barely snuck out a win against Grizz Gaming. The offense was fine, but Heat Check gave up more points per possession than any other team in the tournament.
Was it an aberration or is this what we should expect from this team?
Early money is on the former. This Heat Check team has talent and it’s likely FamousEnough has been obsessing over the film and figuring out a way to get this team back on its feet.
But then again, early money was also on them winning THE TIPOFF. If last week taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed in this league.
3. Can teams find a way to stop Hood?
The Cavs Legion small forward averaged a league-leading 36 points per game using the Shotcreating Slasher build and running a 5-Out offense. He was a human (virtual?) highlight reel, dunking over one, two and sometimes three defenders at a time on seemingly every possession.
Will he keep that up or will the league find a way to stop this man? I think Blazer5 Gaming laid out a rough blueprint in their semi-final matchup: put a power forward on Hood to get the size advantage and make him settle for jumpers. That’s easier said than done, though. DatBoyShotz played tremendous one-on-one defense and anyone who hopes to stop him in the future will have to do the same. But if you try and double-team Hood or play any sort of help defense, Hood will find one of a myriad of shooters that Cavs Legion employs on the floor. If those shooters are hitting, you’re going to lose.
There might be other ways to stop him beyond hoping he has a bad night. But it took awhile in THE TIPOFF for any team to find a way, and it might be awhile before any team finds a way in the regular season.
4. Will teams copy the Cavs Legion formula?
On that same note, with the success of Hood, will teams copy what Cavs Legion did during THE TIPOFF?
There were calls from the community on Twitter that it might be best for most teams to just put their point guard on the small forward and let them go to work. I don’t doubt that some teams will at least give it a shot. We already saw a few teams try something similar during THE TIPOFF, with varying success.
It’s hard to imagine any player pulling it off quite like Hood, though. The top candidate to match that kind of output would probably be Yeah I Compete, who has experience running the Point Forward in Pro-Am. It also looks like there may be a bit of a lineup change in Utah, which could be a signal that Compete is making the switch.
It might not be for everyone, though. Dimez, oFAB and a few others would probably be best served to stick to their point guard builds. But expect some variations from other teams on what Cavs Legion is doing.
5. How will teams continue to build their identity?
The four teams that made the semi-finals of THE TIPOFF—76ers GC, Blazer5 Gaming, Cavs Legion and Pistons GT—each had a unique identity that helped them get as far as they did.
Other teams, like Grizz Gaming and Magic Gaming, didn’t seem to have much of a gameplan and suffered for it.
But whether it was bully ball, 5-Out, or something in between, it’s time for these teams to build on their identity. Will Cavs Legion add a more prominent secondary ball handler or will they continue to let Hood run the show? Can Pistons GT make their bully ball work while still working in some outside shooting? Those kinds of things will be one of the more interesting storylines as the season rolls along.
6. How will oFAB respond to not making it out of group play?
Despite a 3-1 record in Group D, second overall pick oFAB and CLTX Gaming failed to make it to the playoffs last week on point differential. They would have gone undefeated in the “Group of Death” had they not blown a 20-point lead against Mavs Gaming.
In week one, CLTX Gaming goes up against Raptors Uprising and Wizards District Gaming, who have two first-round point guards of their own in Kenny and Demon JT, respectively. That’s two tough matchups for oFAB. The success of the C’s doesn’t lie entirely in how he plays, but he may have something to prove after having first overall pick Dimez come back against him and make it into the quarter-finals. If oFAB can put together two dominant performances on Saturday, it could mean a new-found focus for him which would be a problem for every other team.
7. How do week one’s rematches go?
The first week of the regular season gives us a few rematches from last week’s THE TIPOFF.
Knicks Gaming and Warriors Gaming battle it out in a Group B matchup on Friday along with Blazer 5 Gaming and Magic Gaming from Group C. Then Pacers Gaming and Grizz Gaming are the first game of Saturday’s slate in a Group D rematch while Cavs Legion and Jazz Gaming close things out in a quarter-finals rematch.
There are a couple of obvious favorites and a couple of close battles among those rematches. Going 0-2 on the year against the same team would be a bit of a blow to your confidence, but getting some revenge from THE TIPOFF could set an early tone for the season too. It’s something worth keeping an eye on.
8. Can THE TIPOFF’s bottom-dwellers steal some wins?
Grizz Gaming and Magic Gaming were the only two teams who failed to secure a win last week.
The NBA 2K League didn’t make things easy for them in their first regular season matches. Magic Gaming will take on finalists Blazer5 Gaming while the Grizz will have to go against Pacers Gaming.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks they’ll pull it off against two top teams. A win for either Magic Gaming or Grizz Gaming could signal the start of a turnaround surprise campaign, though. All it takes is one game to change the entire narrative. If there are any teams that should be hungry to prove the people wrong, it is these two. Losses wouldn’t exactly help their perception among the community, though.
9. Who will get a jump start on their MVP campaign this week?
There are some early favorites for regular season MVP already. Guys like Hood, Radiant, WoLF, Dimez and oFAB will all likely be in the best player talks as the season goes on.
With only 14 regular season games to make their case, it is important to get a head start on the rest of the field with a week one performance that will get people talking. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see someone other than the five aforementioned players show out and make a case of their own.
Their main focus will be getting wins, but the MVP race is definitely in the back of everyone’s mind. And if you win while dropping 35 points, that just makes everything all the sweeter.
10. What kind of production improvements will we see?
The NBA 2K League production values only got better as time went on last week. We can only hope the trend continues as the regular season gets underway.
Not only will there potentially be new features (*crosses fingers* in-game stats, in-game stats, in-game stats) but there may be a shakeup in the commentary, unless Dirk is playing some cruel trick on us.
Related to the production will be the viewership numbers. After Tuesday’s peak of just below 15,000, viewership plateaued at around 5,000 to 7,000 the rest of the week. That’s a lot lower than the league wants, but tonight will be the first time the games won’t have to compete with the NBA playoffs, which undoubtedly pulled views away from them. I expect viewership to rise as the weeks go on and the NBA wraps up, but the league will want to see more immediate increases those numbers.
Week One Predictions
76ers Gaming over Bucks Gaming, Friday, 7 p.m. ET
If 76ers GC does indeed keep up what they did at THE TIPOFF, they should be more than this Bucks Gaming team can handle.
Knicks Gaming over Warriors Gaming, Friday, 8 p.m. ET
This is going to be a close one, and the Knicks won this battle last time out.
Blazer5 Gaming over Magic Gaming, Friday, 9 p.m. ET
This didn’t end well for Magic Gaming when these two played in Group C, and I can’t imagine it ends well for them now.
Pacers Gaming over Grizz Gaming, Saturday, 11 a.m. ET
Another rematch, this time from Group D. Pacers Gaming looks like a top-5 team right now while Grizz Gaming does, uh, not.
Mavs Gaming over Raptors Uprising, Saturday, noon ET
This looks to be a tough Raptors Uprising defense, but Dimez, Dayfri and the three-point shooting of Mavs Gaming is a threat to every team.
CLTX Gaming over Wizards District, Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
This will depend on which Wizards District offense shows up: the one that can’t miss from three or the one that freezes up and gets away from what works.
Kings Guard over Jazz Gaming, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
One of the closest matchups of the week. If Kings Guard learned a thing or two from their TIPOFF games then they’ll do just fine.
CLTX Gaming over Raptors Uprising, Saturday, 5 p.m. ET
Brutal opening schedule for Raptors Uprising. Kenny won’t have too much fun having to guard oFAB right after guarding Dimez.
Heat Check Gaming over Pistons GT, Saturday, 6 p.m. ET
My least confident prediction. I have no clue if Heat Check Gaming will come out a lot stronger than their TIPOFF performance. But if the talent all comes together then this is a dangerous team.
Cavs Legion over Jazz Gaming, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
A quarter-finals rematch. Jazz Gaming came close last time out but Hood is just too good.