Next up in our “Seasons in Review” series, we take a look at Wizards District Gaming, a dangerous team which couldn’t get over the 76ers Gaming hump.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where Josiah Cohen took a look at Magic Gaming, who had an impressive turnaround but faltered in the end.
Current roster: Boo Painter, DemonJT, Dayfri
Protections:Boo Painter, DemonJT
Offseason transactions: Acquired Dayfri from Mavs GG in exchange for the 14th pick in the entry draft.
Draft picks: 2nd round (24th overall), 3rd (48th), 4th (66th)
The Good: Offensively, this was a great team (5th in points per game, according to 2K Analytics) both pre-patch and post-patch. Pre-patch, the team seamlessly integrated two ball-handlers with DemonJT running the point and Jin getting his fair share of the ball on a Shot-creating Slasher. And even pre-patch, Boo Painter was one of the league’s best scorers working down low at power forward. At one point I even called the DemonJT-Boo Painter pick-n-roll combo the best in the league.
Post-patch is where they kicked it up a notch, and on the improved Shot-creating Slasher, Boo Painter was truly unleashed. The D.C. local dropped 46 points three separate times in the final five games of the regular season to go along with 36- and 57-point performances in the other two games. One of the most unstoppable players in the league became even more fearsome, and, after a 5-6 start, the Wizards won their final three games of the season—including victories over Blazer5 Gaming and Knicks Gaming in the final two weeks—to secure a playoff spot.
The Bad: Defensively, the team was lacking a bit (10th in points per game allowed, according to 2K Analytics). Where Heat Check found a way to become a brick wall on D despite the numerous shooting builds on the floor in the 5-Out, the Wizards struggled a bit and it cost them. This was especially true in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, in which Wizards DG failed to hold 76ers Gaming to less than 22 points in a quarter en route to a 92-73 loss. It took this team too long to make adjustments at times, and they didn’t have a true defensive stalwart to anchor things.
That loss to the 76ers wasn’t the only time they bowed out to Philly, either. The third-seeded Sixers were the Wizards’ true albatross, as D.C. went 0-3 to the TIPOFF champions across all games—a week 3 60-59 thriller, a 70-67 defeat at The TURN and the aforementioned playoff loss. In that playoff failure, Radiant absolutely dissected the Wizards defense for 32 points and 14 assists, and the 76ers went 10-for-19 from three-point range. Even as the Wizards continued to trade twos for threes, they couldn’t get anyone outside of DemonJT going from deep.
The Good: Enter Dayfri. The team made a move any sane team would make when it acquired the former Mavs big man in exchange for the 14th pick in the entry draft. We’ve already explained why it was a great trade for the Wizards, and the possibilities that come with a core of DemonJT, Boo Painter and Dayfri are exciting. On top of that, the team is already building chemistry, housing all of their players in the district during the offseason. Plus, Boo and Dayfri play on the same Pro-Am team, Make It Happen.
Meanwhile, Boo and Dayfri have started to build both their own brands and the Wizards DG brand through streaming, YouTube and other content that will surely keep pouring in as the offseason rolls along. Also, the team extended the contract of head coach Patrick Crossan.
It’s safe to say this is one of the best-run organizations in the entire league, and it’s easy to make an argument that they are, in fact, the best. Things are looking up for the Wiz Kids.
The Bad: Whereas it’s easy to find concerns in the futures of most non-playoff teams, as we enter the playoff-participant portion of the league that task becomes harder. It’s no different for the Wizards, who don’t have too much to worry about.
I’ll throw out one small thing: if the league build plays at all like the retail version of the game, it’s not completely ideal to have your best two players as natural big men. Inside scoring is nowhere near the level it was in previous versions of 2K, where paint mashing was a good way to score a massive amount of points. That being said, Boo and Dayfri have already showcased their versatility, and Boo has played on a small forward most of 2K19, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Another small thing: with a below-average defense in season one, if the Wizards can’t secure a good defensive player in the draft, it’s okay to wonder if defensive problems will persist in season two. Only time will tell.
One Big Question
Where do the Wizards come out in the league talent arms race?
The Wiz weren’t the only team which made a big move in the offseason. The Pacers got an MVP candidate in Ramo, Blazer5 got a 2K19 standout in KinG_PeroXide, the T-Wolves got Hood and Lakers Gaming got Vert. Those are a lot of good players joining forces with teams that already had a solid foundation. DemonJT, Boo Painter and Dayfri is a great and exciting core, but are they the best in the league at this point?
There are too many variables to make an informed decision on that one right now, but based on all of the information we have, I’d put D.C. pretty high up there. Playoffs should be the floor, and a title is absolutely the ceiling (and, I’m guessing, the goal) for these guys. The draft will give us a better idea, and how things play out during the season, of course, will be the true test.
One thing is for sure, though: it’s a good time to be a Wizards District fan.