The first week of the NBA 2K League regular season is in the books, and we learned a lot last Friday and Saturday.
There were surprise performances, incredible comebacks and teams that already look vastly changed from THE TIPOFF.
Let’s break down all the games, with power rankings to follow.
Bucks Gaming 71-80 76ers Gaming Club
There were a couple things that jumped out at me about this game.
We’ll start with a big change in the Bucks Gaming lineup: xxSTL2LAxx gets moved to the bench, BigMeek comes on in his place and PeroXide, who served at power forward during THE TIPOFF, moves to small forward on the Shotcreating Slasher build and has the offense run through him. It was obvious after the success of Hood and WoLF from THE TIPOFF that teams were going to imitate what they were doing with that Shotcreating Slasher build, but I didn’t have the Bucks pegged as one of the teams that would try it. Still, PeroXide goes off for 41 points, which is good.
Or is it? Here’s the thing about math: I’m not good at it, but I’m positive that three is bigger than two. While PeroXide is scoring at the rim at will, 76ers Gaming Club is draining threes like the NBA Golden State Warriors. Despite PeroXide getting a bucket almost every possession, Bucks Gaming is losing by double digits at halftime because the 76ers are 6/10 from three while the Bucks are 1/4.
What was curious about all of this to me was that 76ers GC originally had Newdini guarding PeroXide, but then switched him off and put ZDS on him. ZDS is a good defender, but putting a Pure Sharpshooter shooting guard onto that Shotcreating Slasher is going to end in trouble. Why not get the size advantage and put Feast on PeroXide and dare the Bucks’ sixth man BigMeek to beat Newdini? Lo and behold, PeroXide had 24 points on 12/15 shooting at halftime. But it was actually a blessing for 76ers GC because PeroXide doing so well down low meant Bucks Gaming kept going to him instead of trying to take three-pointers. I was close to attributing putting ZDS on PeroXide as 76ers GC Head Coach Jeff Terrell playing some sort of 3-D chess and baiting the Bucks into taking all those twos because they were outscoring them with all their threes. I’m not sure about that anymore, but either way, it worked in the end for them. Once Bucks Gaming started taking more three-pointers in the second half, they cut back into the lead. It was too late, though, and they took their first loss of the regular season.
Knicks Gaming 77-74 Warriors Gaming Squad
I picked the Knicks heading into this one, but it was one of my least confident picks. A last-second three for the win shows why. These two teams are close.
It was certainly a game of runs. Iamadamthe1st was a turnover machine early and it led to one of the biggest early leads seen in the NBA 2K League. Shawn Win—on a small forward Sharpshooting Shotcreator, a build I like for him because it allows him to be aggressive, which he was—shot it early and often, hitting some threes and causing problems for the Knicks defense.
But Warriors Gaming got away from what worked in the first quarter. LYKaPRO had a good game on paper, but the offense was run through him just a bit too much in the second quarter. Shawn Win didn’t get many touches, LYKaPRO turned it over a few times and suddenly the Knicks were back in it. GOOFY757, at center instead of his usual power forward, was a force down low. IdrisDaGoat6 was parked on the power forward and mostly tasked with sitting in the corner to allow GOOFY757 space to operate in the paint. And it worked. Vert, also switching from power forward to center for the Warriors, could do little on defense against the natural scorer. Eventually, YEYnotGaming, who got more shot attempts than in any game during THE TIPOFF probably, hit the game-winner with just seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. There were some grumblings on Twitter about celebration animations causing Warriors Gaming to not be able to get back on defense. Looking at the replay, they may have a case, and if it’s true the league should fix that immediately. But what ultimately might have lost the Warriors this game was the play of Sleep, who slipped into the lineup in favor of Type and didn’t have a good performance by any stretch. Just 5/13 from the field and 2/7 from three (for what it’s worth, those two threes were big ones down the stretch) won’t get it done in this league. I’ll go ahead and say it wasn’t entirely his fault because there were a few small, nibbling problems that did the Warriors in, but I’d favor Type in the lineup going forward if I were head coach Rustin Lee.
Blazer5 Gaming 81-72 Magic Gaming
Progress for Magic Gaming! Color me impressed with the way this team played against one of the best teams in the league. I’ll even go out and say that if the Magic were playing a middle-of-the-road opponent, they would have won.
There was off-ball movement, they were running in transition (it’s what got them their early lead) and even when Blazer5 came storming back they kept it close until the very end. KontruL looks like he can run this offense and Marley213s might be the most underrated center in the league (18 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocks in week one).
There are still issues. A few of them. SUPREMEPULLER and UCManny haven’t moved the needle much at small forward and power forward, respectively. The entire team looked disorganized in transition defense, and NachoTraynor was a mess both in transition and in halfcourt D, letting GRANT MONSTER, the most dangerous three-point shooter on the team, get wide open way too many times as he finished 5/7 from deep. And while the offense looked much improved against one of the league’s best defenses, it still looked a little lost at times, with poor execution and turnovers in the final minutes doing them in.
But this team should be proud of their performance. This is something to build on. Magic Gaming’s progress throughout the season will be something I’ll be keeping an eye on every week.
As for Blazer5 Gaming, the Magic being improved probably won’t soothe them after a game they could have easily lost.
Dat Boy Shotz and Mama Im Dat Man took over, and they had to because OneWildWalnut was unusually quiet. But they were out-rebounded, out-assisted and out-shot by the Magic. I don’t think this is a trend for them, I think this was just a trap game where they didn’t take their opponent seriously enough and almost paid for it. But as the team with the most talent, they pulled it out in the end.
Pacers Gaming 57-64 Grizz Gaming
What an unexpected game.
Grizz Gaming caught a lot of flak from the community after going 0-4 in THE TIPOFF and looking real bad while doing it (I had them 17th in my power rankings and gave them a lot of flak myself).
Suddenly, they’re 1-0 to start the season and beat a team that looked top-5 in the league to me. There are a couple caveats, and I’ll get into those, but it is still a victory this team can be proud of and build on.
The key to this win for Grizz Gaming was the adjustments made by both sides. The Grizz made good ones. Pacers Gaming did not.
The big change for Grizz Gaming was moving AuthenticAfrican from center to small forward and onto the Shotcreating Slasher build. AuthenticAfrican is the clear-cut best player on this team at the moment, so why not put the ball in his hands more and let him make something happen? It worked, and he put up 24 points to go along with seven assists. Winner Stayz On looked great as a Pure Sharpshooter, AyeTHREAT hit a big shot and the Grizz got the win. Good looks. If Phenom vv gets going, this team will be even better.
On the flip side, there was Pacers Gaming. I’m confused at what they were trying to do, and I definitely am not the only one. Coming off the success of THE TIPOFF where they looked like one of the scariest teams in the league, they decide to switch everything up and do some experimenting (?) against Grizz Gaming. WoLF gets moved from small forward to shooting guard on the Sharpshooting Lockdown build, Swizurk gets moved to power forward and vGooner becomes the primary ballhandler. Why, why, why? Was it cocky experimentation or is this what we’re supposed to expect for the rest of the season? WoLF was a force on offense at small forward. He didn’t need a lockdown build to play defense, either. Why move him? All it did was displace Swizurk from his natural position of shooting guard to power forward. Swizurk ended up having a monster game, but WoLF was non-existent on offense, and it was apparent vGooner isn’t quite ready to run this team. The UK point guard still didn’t look comfortable on the league build and had an inefficient scoring night. If this is what Pacers Gaming is going to do for the rest of the season, he needs to get acclimated fast. I don’t want to take too much away from the Grizz, but the Pacers lost this game almost as much as Grizz Gaming won it.
Mavs Gaming 75-53 Raptors Uprising GC
Not much went right for Raptors Uprising in this one. The offense looked disjointed, they shot 4/15 from three, Kenny looked out of the game and you’d be hard-pressed to remember any sort of impact Detoxys or TsJosh had in this one.
For Detoxys, the struggles continue. The second-round pick has had little impact through two weeks and has failed to meet expectations. It’s not entirely his fault. Raptors Uprising are using him as a cone in the corner to space the floor for Yusuf. But that backfires when Yusuf is struggling against a Pure Rim Protector like he did against Mavs Gaming and Dayfri. It might be time to try a two-big attack a la Blazer5 Gaming and put Detoxys on the Rebounding Athletic Finisher. Two shots are not enough for the 25th overall pick.
Meanwhile, Mavs Gaming is a well-oiled machine. I found it a little odd that Dimez was on the Sharpshooting Playmaker instead of the Playmaking Shotcreator which is how he has earned his bread to this point. He only had 10 points but did have 15 assists. I still think he just operates better sitting in that midrange and forcing defenders to either commit to stopping him from scoring or staying on his teammates. He only took one shot from three-point range, so it wasn’t like giving him more outside shooting made any difference.
But the scary thing is Mavs Gaming doesn’t even need Dimez scoring to be an effective offense. Dayfri dominated Yusuf down low and made sure his opponent knew it. BallLikeSeem and Devillon remain hands down the best sharpshooting pair in the league (6/6 combined from deep in this game). There are a lot of scary offenses in this league and this may just be the scariest.
CLTX Gaming 79-78 Wizards District Gaming
Even in a league where no one can hold onto a lead, Wizards District gave us one of the worst late-game collapses in the NBA 2K League’s young history.
The Wiz had a 78-71 lead with 1:17 left in the game after a xGREATxGILLY13 bucket. After a bucket from CLTX Gaming to cut it to within five points, the next three Wizards DG possessions went like this: oFAB steal into oFAB fast break basket, MelEast steal into oFAB fast break basket and missed three into oFAB fast break basket. To top it off, Demon JT had a three-pointer blocked as the shot clock expired on the Wizards final possession of the game. By far the worst minute-and-a-half stretch the league has seen.
But let’s also talk about the positives, because it means something that they held a lead throughout the game in the first place.
Jin looked comfortable running the offense on the Shotcreating Slasher (22 points) and it gives the Wizards a lot of flexibility because the offense also looked good during THE TIPOFF when Demon JT was running it. Boo Painter still looks like a top-3 power forward in this league (30 points and 9 rebounds) and was attacking the baseline and scoring at will. Their defense also looked solid early on and they were able to jump out to an early lead because of tight paint defense that had even oFAB and Arsonal X struggling.
You can’t hold oFAB and Arsonal X for too long, though. The duo combined for FIFTY-SIX points with oFAB dropping TWENTY-THREE dimes. Those two figures out-did both the entire Raptors Uprising team against Mavs Gaming and the Cavs Legion team against Jazz Gaming. I can hardly wrap my mind around those numbers.
Jazz Gaming 66-68 Kings Guard Gaming
You could see the utter relief on the faces of Kings Guard Gaming after getting this win. This is a team with a lot of expectations put on them and getting one over a TIPOFF playoff team to start the season was exactly what they needed.
They made a couple of adjustments, the biggest being CowboyCollazo on the Shotcreating Slasher small forward build. He showed out, scoring 22 points, but I have concerns that sometimes he relies a little bit too much on the build and puts up shots that he shouldn’t. The build is good, but you still need to be smart with it.
Mootyy having his best performance of the season went a long way. The fourth overall pick was hot early and ended up shooting 50% from three and pitching in a healthy four assists to go along with his 18 points. That’s exactly what Kings Guard will need more of in the future.
For Jazz Gaming, there wasn’t really anything they did wrong to lose this. It was just an evenly matched game that they lost. There was no Tifeworld this week, for reasons unknown, but Stambreezy may have played even better than him in this one. Tifeworld struggled with his shot in THE TIPOFF while Stambreezy was perfect from the field and played suffocating defense on the sharpshooting Safiya4ya. MrSlaughter01 continues to impress and looks to be well worth the second-round pick so far.
Raptors Uprising GC 69-80 (OT) CLTX Crossover Gaming
This was a brutal opening schedule for Raptors Uprising, and you can’t blame them for going 0-2 to start.
They had things right for most of the game in this one. They gave CLTX Gaming a heaping serving of Yusuf down low, dominating Arsonal X in the post. On the other end, they didn’t let Arsonal X get going on offense himself. KingQuai614, subbing in for TsJosh, filled in nicely and was both efficient and aggressive.
For CLTX Gaming, they only stayed within striking distance because of their deadly fast break. If you get oFAB the ball in transition with numbers, he’s either going to get it to the man at the basket or take it to the bucket himself and score. There are no official numbers, but I’d be willing to bet this is the best fast break team in the league.
And as always, do not count CLTX Gaming out of any game. They will make you look silly. Their ability to stay just within striking distance then find an extra gear in the 4th quarter is unmatched. That’s exactly what happened in this one, and Raptors Uprising just seemed nervous in overtime and folded.
By the way, another quiet outing for Detoxys in this game. The team needs to have a conversation with each other about how to get him in the game and give him a role in the offense beyond “go sit in the corner and space it for Yusuf.”
Heat Check Gaming 62-70 Pistons GT
This was a winnable game for Heat Check Gaming, who look like they desperately need to win a game right now. There was a cut to the player cameras late during this game. Pistons GT was talking and full of energy. Heat Check looked nervous and unsure of themselves.
It was a close game until late. Then Lets Get It Ramo took over for the Pistons with some timely steals on defense and offensive rebounding to extend possessions. He had been relatively quiet to that point but came alive when it mattered.
The star of the day for Pistons GT was iiNsaniTTy. The small forward was getting to the basket at will and even running the offense for a few possessions at a time. His mid-range game is good enough where you have to respect it, but play him to close and he’ll blow by you.
As for Heat Check, they just didn’t have enough on the day. Hotshot was moved to power forward (to create a mismatch against Rux, I think) but didn’t have the kind of production you’d want from the seventh overall pick. Majes7ic looked sharper than he did during THE TIPOFF and was hot from deep, but he also looked a little lost on defense trying to guard Im So Far Ahead. The team continues to get little production from the shooting guard position, and it might be time for FamousEnough to bring in Jalen and see what he can do in place of Hyper Is Pro.
Cavs Legion GC 51-59 Jazz Gaming
This was a shell of the offense we saw from Cavs Legion at THE TIPOFF.
Scoring 51 points won’t get you many wins in this league. I don’t know if the Cavs felt their 5-Out Hood attack might have been figured out by other teams or if they just wanted to try a system where everyone else got more involved. Either way, it didn’t work on Saturday.
There was a lot more off-ball movement this week. They were setting screens and getting it to Sick x 973 down low. The ball was still in Hood’s hands plenty, too. But they changed the formula and it led to their first loss of the regular season.
To Jazz Gaming’s credit, they played some incredible defense. Hood had 19 points, which is low for him, as impressive as that statement is. TURNUPDEFENSE and ToXsiK were non-factors. Meanwhile on the offensive end for the Jazz, they were hitting their threes, Smoove continues to be an efficiency machine and Yeah I Compete dominated from the mid-range. This was a good win for them, and an important one too with their earlier loss to Kings Guard.
Cavs Legion will have to decide if Saturday was just a bad offensive night for them or if they need to make the switch back to what they were doing at THE TIPOFF.
Lots of movement, which was always to be expected. As always, these aren’t entirely based on a team’s win-loss record. Regular season records are listed first while regular season plus TIPOFF records combined are listed in parentheses.
17. Magic Gaming, 0-1 (0-4), Last week: 16
They move down in the power rankings, but they were a better team on the court than they were at THE TIPOFF. Now they just need to build on it.
16. Heat Check Gaming, 0-1 (1-4), LW: 15
At some point, the production will need to match all the pre-season hype and talk surrounding this team.
15. Grizz Gaming, 1-0 (1-4), LW: 17
I’m cautiously optimistic. They got a good win but Pacers Gaming also shot themselves in the foot. I eagerly anticipate how they will play next week against Cavs Legion.
14. Raptors Uprising GC, 0-1 (1-3), LW: 11
Brutal opening schedule, but they were non-competitive against Mavs Gaming and blew it against CLTX Gaming.
13. Bucks Gaming, 0-1 (1-3), LW: 14
The offense looked good with PeroXide running it, but they may also want to find a way to fit oLARRY into it.
12. Wizards District Gaming, 0-1 (1-3), LW: 12
Plenty of positives from their game against CLTX Gaming. But blowing that late lead is inexcusable.
11. Warriors gaming Squad, 0-1 (2-3), LW: 10
I think they need to put Type back in the lineup and focus their offense through their frontcourt again.
10. Knicks Gaming, 1-0 (2-2), LW: 13
I like how the offense is coming together. They added some three-point shooting and it helped a lot.
9. Kings Guard Gaming, 1-0 (2-2), LW: 9
Another close game, but this time they pulled it out. Still need a coach, I think.
8. Pacers Gaming, 0-1 (3-3), LW: 5
I’m only putting them here because I don’t think what we saw on Saturday is the Pacers Gaming team we’ll see the rest of the season. If it is, though, this team will probably slip.
7. Cavs Legion GC, 0-1 (3-3), LW: 3
If they can’t get back to what worked for them on offense at THE TIPOFF or at least make their current system work, this could be a disappointing season for them
6. Jazz Gaming, 1-1 (3-3), LW: 8
Scoring can come from a lot of different places on this offense, and their defense is pretty impressive, too.
5. Pistons GT, 1-0 (4-2), LW: 7
Pulled out a win against Heat Check Gaming. I like the improvements and adjustments they made on offense.
4. Blazer5 Gaming, 1-0 (6-1), LW: 2
Almost slipped up against Magic Gaming. Need to start out stronger against Knicks Gaming this week.
3. CLTX Crossover Gaming, 2-0 (5-1), LW: 5
Letting their opponents get late leads on them will come back to bite them if they keep doing it, but oFAB and Arsonal X are just absolutely deadly.
2. Mavs Gaming, 1-0 (4-2), LW: 4
This offense might be the best in the league. Had their game won against the Raptors by the 2nd quarter.
1. 76ers Gaming Club, 1-0 (6-1), LW: 1
THE TIPOFF champs and took care of business this week. No reason to move them.