Next up in our “Seasons in Review” series, we take a look at Bucks Gaming, who never found their identity and were one of the few teams in the league who were never really in the playoff race.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where Josiah Cohen took a look at Mavs Gaming, which has a new coach but plenty of uncertainty in their future still.
Current roster: Game6Drake, BigMeek
Protections: Game6Drake, BigMeek
Offseason transactions: Retained KinG_PeroXide in exchange for their 3rd round pick. Acquired the 17th pick in the entry draft from Blazer5 Gaming in exchange for KinG_PeroXide.
Draft picks: 1st round (6th overall), 1st (17th), 2nd (26th), 4th (58th)
The Good: Across the board, Bucks Gaming players showed off their abilities at various times. Talent was never the issue with this team. Game6Drake took some time to settle in and become smarter with his shot selection, but he certainly showed he belonged. Procis1on didn’t get the playing time I would have liked to see him get, but proved to be a sniper in his limited time. KinG_PeroXide dropped 39 points in the first game of the regular season before promptly being switched off of the Shot-creating Slasher. BigMeek did enough at the power forward position, especially as a stretch, to warrant a protection from the team as a 6th rounder. I don’t have to tell you that oLARRY is a talented center, and XxSTL2LAxX even had a 30-point performance against Wizards DG in week 10. There was a fine collection of skill on this team, and they even beat the Cavs, Wizards and 76ers.
The Bad: But the Bucks had no idea what to do with its talent. Could you even begin to attempt and identify what it was Bucks Gaming wanted to do with its offense all season? In fact, I’m struggling to remember if this team even trotted out the same lineup more than twice in three months. I don’t know who was making the lineup and position decisions week in and week out, but with a lack of 2K experience and knowledge in the front office I can guess it likely came down to the players. But no matter who it was, the team couldn’t figure what it wanted to be, and as a wise man once shouted (over and over): “Identity. Integrity.” It matters. Every successful team in the NBA 2K League goes into every game knowing what it wants to do and how it wants to play. This team had no clue, and the results speak for themselves.
The Good: The good thing for every bad team in the NBA 2K League is that they have a chance at a fresh start, and two first round picks is a good way to jumpstart their refresh (I have a hard time committing to the term “rebuild” after one season. Don’t ask me why). Drake is a nice piece, and with him reportedly preferring to switch to shooting guard in season two, there’s room to grow talent-wise if the Bucks decide to go with a high-ceiling point guard at 6th overall. I like BigMeek as well, both because his swagger in a hoodie and sunglasses is unmatched and because his play had me once considering if he was the best stretch big in the league. It’s not the most talented core, but there is certainly something to work with here.
The Bad: This team still may not know what it wants to do. It failed to remedy its “no-2K-experience-in-the-front-office” situation, but that’s at least slightly less of a problem with a full year of experience under their collective belts. But this is one of those teams that could really, really use a head coach, and they’ve been dead silent on that front. With the recent hirings Mavs GG and Magic Gaming pulled off, time is running out to secure someone who can maximize the potential of this team—if they even plan to hire a coach, that is. I’m also not entirely sold on the team’s decision to ship off PeroXide, who has looked extremely good in the early going of 2K19 Pro-Am, and who for some reason was not allowed to continue scoring in mass amounts after the aforementioned switch off the Shot-creating Slasher. Basically, it looks like the Bucks are really banking on hitting big with their draft picks. With three picks in the top-26, that’s very possible! But it’s obvious what the issue is when you’re hoping to draft well: if you don’t hit on your picks you’re out of luck, and hitting on three picks is hard. We’ll see if the team learned from season one come draft day.
One Big Question
What’s the gameplan heading into the draft?
And I don’t just mean who are they going to draft. Do Andrew Buck and co. feel confident in their own scouting to take on the draft on their own? Or will they try to bring in some outside help? Their season one draft advisors, MPBA founders Toijuin and Curt, have found other homes in the league and won’t have their services available. Like I mentioned before, they went into season one without the necessary 2K knowledge and experience. I don’t think it’s the worst idea at this point to try and handle the draft load on their own now that they are more familiar with the community and how the league works, but it also wouldn’t hurt to bring in some extra help, especially with how crucial this draft is for them.
Then of course there’s the question of what will they do with their picks. Drake wants to play shooting guard, but with at least four teams in front of them in the first round who could easily select a point guard, a top center (or simply best player available elsewhere) could be available for the taking. Do I see them passing on a point guard? I have no idea when we don’t know the draft pool. Should they pass on a point guard with the 6th pick? To each his own. Either strategy is valid at this point. If you can’t get your point guard at 6 and aren’t excited by the options at 17, it may be tough luck for Drake who would probably best serve his team staying at his natural position. If you take the fifth point guard available (and with the nature of drafts, picking the fifth point guard doesn’t mean you’re picking the fifth-best), that’s okay too I guess. It all depends on the quality of the draft, another danger of depending so much on it. I don’t think the Bucks are doomed, but they find themselves in a tough position heading into season two.