Week three was the craziest of the NBA 2K League’s young history. There were upsets, comebacks and plenty of surprises that proved the narrative can wildly shift with every new week.
That of course means we have to talk about every single game and try to make sense of it all. Let’s break it down.
Bucks Gaming 64-78 Blazer5 Gaming
Another week, another Bucks Gaming lineup change. It’s getting to be a bit much now, isn’t it? To paraphrase something Dirk said in his cameo as color commentator next to Scott Cole, there’s no consistent lineup and no consistent scorer with this team, and both of those things are hurting the Bucks. In their latest iteration, XxSTL2LAxX took over the point guard duties, Game6Drake was moved to a Pure Sharpshooter at shooting guard, KinG PeroXide returned to small forward and Big Meek and oLARRY were back at their usual positions of power forward and center, respectively, which meant there was no Procis1on again this week.
As I said last week, I don’t know why Procis1on is sitting. If he’s forced out by some personal issue, that’s a tough break for Bucks Gaming. If it’s a tactical decision, it’s misguided. And while I’ve brought up Game6Drake’s shot selection issues, I don’t think moving XxSTL2LAxX to the one is the answer at all. He didn’t look comfortable trying to be the primary playmaker, and he didn’t shoot particularly well either (three-for-eight from the field). Second round pick oLARRY going three-for-eight as well and being almost invisible on the court wasn’t good for the Bucks as well. Add in 15 turnovers and it was easy to see why Bucks Gaming lost this one.
There were bright spots for them, though. Big Meek has an absolute burner from range and could be in the conversation for the best stretch bigs in the league. PeroXide played decently, too, although he was on the Sharpshooting Shot-Creator this time around. And the three-point shooting was good. Twelve-for-nineteen from deep is the kind of production any team in the league would be happy with. But like every other week, while some of the pieces are there, Bucks Gaming can’t put it all together. Cut down on the turnovers, get Game6Drake back to point guard, get Procis1on back in the lineup if possible, keep up the three-point shooting and find a way for oLARRY to work within this offense. That’s the recipe for this team if they want to start winning.
For Blazer5 Gaming, this was the most balanced effort from their big three that I can recall. Dat Boy Shotz had 22 points, Mama Im Dat Man had 21 and OneWildWalnut had 19. They were grabbing offensive boards like madmen, forcing turnovers and moving the ball around. My one gripe would go to Walnut, who was a machine on the glass but was throwing up some questionable put-backs, especially against the Pure Rim Protector oLARRY. You don’t have to put those up just because you’re on an offensive center build. Kick it back out to Mama more and let the offense reset. Overall, though, a well-rounded performance from one of the best teams in the league.
Mavs Gaming 70-61 Heat Check Gaming
I said in my week three preview that a loss for Heat Check Gaming on Saturday wouldn’t mean much. It’s still true after they fell to a good Mavs Gaming team in a game that was closer than the score would have you believe.
The gameplans for these two teams were vastly different. Heat Check funneled the ball down low to Hotshot and 24k Dropoff while Mavs Gaming had probably their most balanced attack to date. All five Mavs Gaming starters ended with double-digit points, a league-first as I believe Dirk pointed out. And it wasn’t just a three-point barrage from the Mavs role players, either. They were getting to the rim. It was truly an attack from all angles.
Heat Check’s strategy had mixed results early on. Hotshot, who was at power forward, was tasked with sitting in the paint while Dropoff, on the Pure Rim Protector, sat on the baseline to give his frontcourt partner some space. Dropoff was efficient early while it took Hotshot until the second quarter to start heating up. Sprinkled in were some Majes7ic drives to the rack, but it was mostly the big man show in Miami. But while it kept them in the game for the most part, it also did them in in the fourth quarter. Dropoff fell a little too in love with the baseline midrange jumpers and a couple of turnovers to go along with some lapses in defensive coverage helped the Mavs break away at the end.
But the Heat Check gameplan wasn’t a bad one. While some power forwards like GOOFY757 and Lets Get It Ramo have made the switch to center, FamousEnough has flipped the script the past couple of weeks and moved the natural center Hotshot to power forward and put Dropoff on the Pure Rim Protector. It’s a good move in theory. Pure Rim Protectors are important, but why neutralize the offensive capabilities of a big man just to run it? By moving Hotshot you both allow him to go to work offensively and have a defensive build guarding Dayfri, who only shot 6-for-12 against the Heat on Saturday.
This came down to a lack of late-game execution. Heat Check Gaming also needs more contributions from their role players. Without checking, Hyper is Pro is likely among the lowest-scoring players in the league and the usually excellent Sharpshooterlos was only one-for-three from deep last week. This is one of those teams that’s on the cusp of finding what they’re best at and executing it. Good thing they still have a few weeks to work it out.
Pacers Gaming 49-61 Cavs Legion GC
The community clamored for Pacers Gaming to get back to what it was doing at THE TIPOFF. I clamored for it. Yet here we are, after the Pacers got back to their roots but still lost by 12 to a Hood-less Cavs Legion GC, and I’m wondering where they go from here.
WoLF 74 had 26 points but it wasn’t the most inspiring 26 you’ve ever seen. He was back at the Shot-Creating Slasher small forward build but he struggled early. Those dribble-drives to the rim that are usually deadly on that build were seemingly easily thwarted by the Cavs, and WoLF was forcing shots in the paint in the hope that they would fall because of the build. It wasn’t really working, though. What we saw last Friday was a shell of what the Pacers were at THE TIPOFF.
TuckerLocksUp has become an increasingly more important part of the offense, but almost to a fault. There was an over-reliance of paint mashing against Cavs Legion. But VGooner, Swizurk and FrostyTheTruth combined for just five points and went a collective one-for-eight from three. They may have been relying on the paint because they were so bad from range, or they were so bad from range because they were relying on the paint so much. Maybe a bit of both! But even though this was close for the most part throughout, this may have been the ugliest Pacers Gaming performance we’ve seen yet.
Not to discredit Cavs Legion, by the way. They’re now 3-1 on the regular season and 3-0 without their best player. Hood is, of course, fantastic, but the offense has been refocused to increase the ball movement and attack teams from all angles. I dare not suggest that this team is better without Hood (as a Washington Wizards fan who dealt with the “are the Wizards better without John Wall?” takes this season, I will never hop in that boat), but it’s never not a good sign that the team is winning without him. It just makes the Cavs that much scarier when he comes back.
CLTX Gaming 61-65 Pistons GT
I said in my week three preview that I was waiting for Pistons GT to beat an elite team. They answered the bell with a 65-61 win against CLTX Gaming on Saturday.
Their gameplan was clear: create a mismatch by putting Lets Get It Ramo back at his natural position of power forward and focus the offense through him. The Pistons even went to such lengths as having Ramo bring the ball up to get the defensive fiend oFAB away from the ball as much as possible. Small forward iiNsaniTTy was put on a Pure Sharpshooter instead of his usual Shot-Creating Slasher to space the floor for Ramo.
For CLTX Gaming, the same problems persist, primarily their lack of reliable three-point shooting. Point guard oFAB noted this about a week ago and even went on to say it “starts with him” to alleviate the issue. He’s right, because oddly enough, the three-point shooting problem on CLTX Gaming starts with oFAB. The second overall pick has shot 5-for-18 (27%) from three in the regular season, tied for worst on the team with MelEast (outside of Arsonal X who missed his lone attempt from deep this season). The difference between him and MelEast is that up until the game against Pistons GT, MelEast was on the Shot-Creating Slasher build at small forward while oFAB has been on the shooting build. He has been shooting a little too much in transition and trying the step-back/walk-back threes, and it hurts the flow of the offense. This CLTX Gaming offense doesn’t even need oFAB to be hitting a bunch of threes (no team in the league depends on their point guard hitting a bunch of threes, I’d argue. Maybe Radiant and the 76ers, just because they take so many of them as a team). Just let your shooters space the floor and get it to Arsonal X more. Taking the deep shots is fine as long as it comes within the flow of the offense.
Magic Gaming 66-56 Knicks Gaming
Well, we all have to apologize to Magic Gaming now.
I put them 17th the past two weeks in my power rankings. I thought they showed some promise and were making steps toward winning some games, but I didn’t see this kind of week coming from them. They’re now .500 and might even be in the playoff race, which is almost insane to say.
It started with a lineup change. NachoTraynor out, KingCamRoyalty in. He moved to power forward while UCMANNY took over small forward duties and SupremePuller went to shooting guard.
There is a lot you can say about how both Magic Gaming and Knicks Gaming performed in this game. Both KontruL (three-for-seven from the field) and iamadamthe1st (4-for-12) never found their rhythm. The teams combined to shoot just 9-for-23 from three. Both teams turned the ball over. A lot.
It all ended up working in the Magic’s favor. KingCamRoyalty is a revelation at power forward, and UCMANNY looked more than comfortable at small forward. The telling stat wasn’t just how many assists the Magic had, it was how those assists were spread out. They notched 23 assists compared to the Knicks’ 16, with UCMANNY leading the Magic with seven while both Marley213s and KontruL had six. KingCamRoyalty also pitched in with three of his own. That’s excellent team-ball.
If you’re the Knicks, you’re still disappointed despite the obviously improved Magic squad. This was a team that took undefeated Blazer5 to the last minute last week and looked to be trending upward. Now after a poor performance, they’re 1-2. Outside of the aforementioned issues, the offense wasn’t focused. NateKahl had it going early but they got away from him (which has happened before with the Knicks, by the way. A player will get hot early and suddenly iamadamthe1st is getting the looks on offense), then by the time they got it back to him he had cooled off. GOOFY757 had 16 points, but it was a quiet 16. He didn’t get the ball nearly enough this game. This team has some things to figure out between now and when they face both Kings Guard Gaming and Raptors Uprising GC next week.
Wizards District Gaming 59-60 76ers Gaming Club
This game was foreshadowing to what we were going to see in the second 76ers Gaming Club game later on Saturday. It was also a sequel to Wizards District’s problems when it comes to closing out games.
The early going was great for the Wizards. Jin and Boo Painter were dealing buckets to start this off and it translated into a 20-8 lead after the first quarter. It helped that the 76ers had probably their worst half in recent memory and weren’t hitting all the three-pointers that they normally hit thanks to some tight defense. 76ers Gaming won the second quarter but it was still a seven-point lead at halftime for Wizards District.
But things suddenly turned for the Wiz. They couldn’t buy a bucket in the third quarter and got outscored 19-6. The 76ers figured out how to stop Jin in the second half and Wizards District didn’t adjust. That’s where getting the ball in the hands of DemonJT would have helped, even if he’s on a Shot-Creating Sharpshooter. Meanwhile, Radiant switched to attack mode and started attacking the rim with no defensive builds on the floor for the Wizards. He was eight-for-nine on attempts inside the arc.
What kept Wizards District in it until the end was some clutch offensive rebounding from Boo Painter—who looks like the best power forward in the league at the moment. But, just like against CLTX Gaming, the Wizards couldn’t close it and allowed Steez to get the game-winning bucket with just seconds left and tried to get xGREATxGILLY13 a deep shot late. Blowing two games like they have could just be a coincidence—their blown games were both against elite teams—but it could also be a trend. Whether it’s a mental block, a lack of late-game execution or something else, they have to figure it out. I believe this will be a playoff team, so they have the season to get it together, likely.
Grizz Gaming 62-76 Kings Guard
Grizz Gaming isn’t among the three teams yet to secure a win, but they’re still in the discussion for worst team in the league.
Their win against 0-3 Pacers Gaming looks less quality every week. Those lineup changes that had me and others believing they had turned the corner don’t seem so inspired anymore. After their third straight loss where they looked listless and uncompetitive, this team still has a long way to go.
They made some changes in this one by putting AuthenticAfrican on the Sharpshooting Shot-Creator build instead of the Shot-Creating Slasher at small forward. He still balled out, scoring 23 points, dishing 10 assists and nabbing three steals, but there is still no clear second option on this team. At this point I’d say it’s UniversalPhenom, but the other three starters on this roster are too inconsistent. Winner Stayz On and Phenom vv both hit double-digit points but AyeTHREAT put up zeroes almost all across the board.
I said this after THE TIPOFF and it’s still true: this team has no identity beyond “give the ball to AuthenticAfrican and hope he does something with it.” Back then, he was at center. Now he’s at small forward. It’s the same thing. I think the idea this week was to just surround AuthenticAfrican with shooters? Maybe? I don’t know, and that’s a problem. Grizz Gaming has the same problem as Bucks Gaming (and to a certain extent, Pacers Gaming) where they have no established identity and are constantly going back to the drawing board. Inconsistency will have you at the bottom of the standings fast.
Kings Guard Gaming did a bit of the same this week. Mootyy was moved to the Pure Rim Protector at center and Worthingcolt was on the Rebounding Athletic Finisher at power forward. It was a move in the same vein of what FamousEnough has been doing in regards to not limiting the offensive potential of your best offensive big man. Mootyy is valuable as a spot-up shooter, but Worthingcolt being able to score at will while the Kings have a more shored up defense at the same time is more valuable.
Their gameplan was clear: get it to Worthingcolt. The big man scored 26 points while Mootyy cleared out some space for him down low. Mootyy himself was a horse in the paint with 13 rebounds while Timelycook did what he usually does with 15 points and 11 assists. Safiya4ya found his shooting stroke again and went five-for-five from three and sixth man ColeWorld2K also hit double digits. That’s a good recipe for a win.
I mentioned that I don’t know what to make of this Kings Guard team yet, and honestly, I still don’t. Next week they have a double-header against Knicks Gaming and 76ers Gaming, so we may find out a thing or two about this team.
76ers Gaming Club 68-72 Raptors Uprising GC
It finally had to happen at some point for these teams. 76ers Gaming Club was going to lose and Raptors Uprising GC was going to win. They went ahead and took care of both of those things in one game.
Kenny and three-pointers. That’s the formula for the Raptors moving forward. It helps to have Pro-Am veteran point guard OneThroughFive as your coach, which was a good move for the previously dedicated-coach-less Raptors Uprising, too.
The new coach had an immediate impact on the court. There was a clear gameplan: isolate Kenny on the Pure Sharpshooter Newdini and let him go to work. Kenny attacked from the wing and in the paint, backing down defenders and repeatedly dunking on them. It was a new use for the Shot-Creating Slasher small forward build, which has seen a decrease in utilization and effectiveness as the weeks go by. Meanwhile, the Raptors shooters put in their best effort (8-for-15 from deep). In fact, Raptors Uprising flipped the script on the 76ers. The Philadelphia squad has made a living off of beating teams via sheer number of three-pointers made. This time, the 76ers shooters were quiet, much like in their game against Wizards District, while the Raptors rained them in.
That’s a troubling trend for 76ers Gaming. They were a combined 6-for-20 from three in their two games, a much lower percentage and number of makes than they’re used to. Sharpshooting duo ZDS and Newdini were a combined two-for-seven from deep on the weekend and Radiant was an alarming 2-for-11. If teams have figured out how to stop their shooting, they’ll need to figure out new ways to get them going again. It probably starts with Radiant, who usually shoots well from three but is most effective when he’s driving to the rim and forcing defenses to either commit to him or the shooters around him.
Warriors Gaming Squad 48-55 Magic Gaming
This was one of the slowest, sloppiest, most inefficient games played in the NBA 2K League to date. It ended up working in favor of Magic Gaming. Most of the players on both sides had trouble shooting. Everyone had at least one turnover. For Warriors Gaming, I think this came down to both the gameplan and the execution.
They did what both Kings Guard and Heat Check did: moved the natural power forward Vert to center on a Pure Rim Protector and move Type from center to power forward on the Sharpshooting Rim Protector. But in this case, it didn’t really work, the biggest reason being that Vert benefits more from an offensive build. It showed as he went 5-for-12 in this game with only 10 points. That’s a massive drop in production from a guy who almost single-handedly got them into the playoffs at THE TIPOFF. I suppose the reasoning was that they wanted to get Type on a stretch build because of his shooting ability while not sacrificing paint defense, but he still only got off two three-point attempts. I don’t think this was the right switch considering their personnel. Type did just fine on the Pure Rim Protector in week two against Heat Check. Switch Vert back to power forward and let him go to work.
Other than that, they had LYKaPRO on the Playmaking Shot-Creator, and he looked a little more comfortable on that build. That’s a change I think they should keep as they move forward. He wasn’t hitting much from three on the sharpshooting build, anyway.
For the Magic, they grinded this one out. KontruL was put on the Shot-Creating Sharpshooter build and Magic Gaming went with an interesting look of letting their big men do most of the playmaking, particularly KingCamRoyalty. He filled what was somewhat of a Nikola Jokic role, staying in the post while still feeding teammates. Indeed, he finished with the most assists on the team this game with six, while everyone else pitched in with a few of their own similar to their match against Knicks Gaming earlier.
One negative that I’ll note of that setup was some questionable shot selection from KontruL. He took a few deep unnecessary three-pointers and finished two-for-six from range. He’s not in a system anymore where he has to play hero-ball like that, and all those deep threes are doing is wasting possessions. He needs to be smarter with that even when he’s on a shooting build.
But give credit to the Magic. Two games, two wins last week. There was notable relief from the entire team after their breakthrough performances, and SupremePuller had something else to say, too.
Well where'd all the doubters go? We've broken 99.99% of your guys power rankings, grades, and opinions 🤔🤔🤔. Put some respect on magic gaming name. pic.twitter.com/xQcw6ru3FT
— Supreme Puller (@SupremePuller) May 27, 2018
As the Brits would say: fair play, mate. You earned it. Let’s see how Magic Gaming builds on this success now.
Jazz Gaming 71-58 Grizz Gaming
I don’t feel like there is much to say about this one. Jazz Gaming was the better team on both sides of the ball and out-classed Grizz Gaming.
There is a rising feeling that Jazz Gaming are underrated. They currently sit at 3-1 with their only loss coming from a Timelycook buzzer beater. Small forward Smoove certainly had something to say about after their win on Saturday.
I wouldn’t call them the best team right now, but they’re firmly in the top-five. Their relative lack of discussion about being an elite team I think stems from the fact that there’s nothing flashy about the Jazz. They play great defense and can score from anywhere. Yeah I Compete was the third overall pick, but he doesn’t dominate the offense like other point guards in the league.
All of those factors were on full display against the Grizz last week. They suffocated their opponent on defense which led to fast break points, they had almost every player score double-digits and Yeah I Compete dished out 17 assists but only scored 12 points.
If they want to prove they’re the best team in the league, a win against Mavs Gaming in week four would be a good start. A deep run in the first mid-season tournament in two weeks wouldn’t hurt either. I look forward to seeing what they do in both of those.
I won’t dwell on the Grizz too much since I already discussed their issues, but I’ll give them some credit for sticking around a bit. This was a 28-25 game at halftime and they were still battling in the fourth quarter. The same problems persisted, though, most notably the lack of scoring from three of their five players.
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. Grizz Gaming, 1-3 (1-7), Last Week: 16
Back at rock bottom. Once they figure out who they are as a team, they’ll start to make some progress.
16. Bucks Gaming, 0-3 (1-5), Last Week: 15
Not sure how many people would agree with me putting them here. But this team has no consistency and so far hasn’t shown they have a clue as to how to make all their players work together.
15. Warriors Gaming Squad, 0-3 (2-5), LW: 14
Another inconsistent team. As I said last week, you never know what you’re going to get with the Warriors. I think they tried to do too much with the lineup changes this week.
14. Pacers Gaming, 0-3 (3-5), LW: 11
They finally went back to what had worked before and it didn’t work again. They need some wins, and fast, to salvage their season.
13. Magic Gaming, 2-2 (2-5), LW: 17
Cautious optimism. I’m eager to see if they can capitalize and win against Grizz Gaming next week, but I’m most interested in how they’ll do in the mid-season tournament.
12. Heat Check Gaming, 1-2 (2-5), LW: 12
Played Mavs Gaming close. Need to capitalize against a struggling Pacers Gaming team this week.
11. Knicks Gaming, 1-2 (2-4), LW: 9
Rough game against the Magic. They need to do a better job of riding the hot hand. GOOFY757 should always be the primary option on this team.
10. Raptors Uprising GC, 1-3 (2-5), LW: 13
I’m a believer in this team. With a new coach and what looks to be some flexibility and depth, they can turn this season around.
9. Kings Guard Gaming, 2-1 (3-3), LW: 10
Did what was expected of them against Grizz Gaming. Wins against Knicks Gaming and 76ers Gaming Club next week would launch this team much higher.
8. Wizards District Gaming, 2-2 (3-4), LW: 8
They were this close to beating 76ers Gaming Club. If they ever learn how to close out games they could be in the contenders discussion.
7. CLTX Crossover Gaming, 2-2 (5-3), LW: 4
They need to figure out how to improve their shooting, plain and simple.
6. Cavs Legion GC, 3-1 (6-3), LW: 5
It’s tough to move this team down despite getting another win, but we’ll have to see how they play once they get Hood back.
5. Jazz Gaming, 3-1 (5-3), LW: 7
Like I said, this is a top-five team. Great defense, balanced offense. Big test against Mavs Gaming this week.
4. Pistons GT, 3-0 (6-2), LW: 6
I asked them to get a win against a good team, and they did. So now they’re in the top-four.
3. Mavs Gaming, 3-1 (6-3), LW: 2
They only move down because I give 76ers Gaming Club the benefit of the doubt and think they’ll bounce back. The Mavs’ win over Heat Check Gaming shouldn’t be overlooked, though.
2. 76ers Gaming Club, 3-1 (8-2), LW: 1
I didn’t move them down just because they lost, but because they were also thrown off of their game twice last week. They need to get their shooting back.
1. Blazer5 Gaming, 3-0 (8-1), LW: 2
Looked a lot more solid than their previous two games. They need to be careful against Raptors Uprising next week, though.