We’ve reached the NBA 2K League Finals with our penultimate Seasons In Review, where I’ll take a look at the not-a-one-man army of Heat Check Gaming.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where I evaluated 76ers GC’s impressive 2018 season and cool, calm, and collected future.
Current roster: Hotshot, Majestic, Dropoff
Protections: Hotshot, Majestic
Offseason transactions: Retained Dropoff at the cost of a second-round pick.
Draft picks: 1st (20th), 3rd (51st), 4th (72nd)
The Good: Oh, just a Finals appearance and an emergent MVP candidate. The Heat treaded water for the first half of the season or so before exploding with Hotshot at the shot-creating slasher. Hotshot turned out to be not only a great big man but the best Shot-creating Slasher in the game, and the rest of the roster completely bought into what top coach Derric Franklin (FamousEnough) devised with their help. The Heat smacked the third-seeded Pistons in round one before dominating 76ers GC in the first sweep in NBA 2K League history. Hotshot was an MVP candidate, Majestic demonstrated himself an immensely versatile player… the list goes on and on.
The Bad: Heat Check Gaming had moments where they lost focus, such as early on in the season and in the last week of the year where they squandered the opportunity at the third or fourth seed (it worked out OK). The Heat also, funnily enough, proved unable to advance in a single tournament, with Wizards DG cooling them down early in both the TURN and the TICKET. They then lost in the Finals by a combined six points, as Finals MVP NateKahl and Knicks Gaming held Hotshot in check just enough down the stretch.
The Good: The league, and specifically the expansion teams, somehow allowed Famous to bring back Dropoff alongside the protected Hotshot and Majestic. Seriously, people? Now you have to face either the best Shot-creating Slasher in the league or one of the best centers in the game. That’s not counting the steadfast Majestic or the wily Dropoff. Heat Check has a winning culture and a Team Operations demonstrably better than most who probably has more intel on the 2019 draft class than any other team in the league. This core went to the Finals last season. Don’t think they can do it again? They’re more than happy to play the bad guys once more.
The Bad: Heat Check Gaming doesn’t necessarily have a top lock or a go-to backcourt scorer. While they should have no trouble finding what they need despite being without a second-round pick, they’ll have to get those new guys to buy in the same way the season one roster did. That’s not a guarantee. Nor is it certain that the Heat will be able to flip the switch like they did in season one if they can’t develop season-long consistency that marks most frontrunners (the Knicks obviously excepted). They also weren’t able to make a trade with their late first-rounder.
The Big Question
Where do their players play?
This could have an impact on their draft. Heat Check is lucky enough to have very versatile players, with each of their rostered players having played at least three positions in season one. Where do they stick these guys next season?
There’s also the factor of the new league build. It’s unlikely, at least initially, that the league build reiterates equal power at the Shot-creating Slasher build. But there’s also no guarantee that it returns to the paint-mashy style of the pre-patch season. Hotshot will have to find his game between those. Aristotle would be happy, and he’s good enough that it probably won’t matter, but the Heat had a top-2 guy at both extremes, and they’ll have to decide the direction of Hotshot for season two.
Majestic and Dropoff also moved around after settling in at one position. Does Majestic return to point guard if Heat Check doesn’t snag a PG-focused player in the draft? Will Dropoff actually stay at one position for the majority of the season? Famous will likely want versatile guys in the draft. He’ll have to figure out the tension between the allure of versatile scheme-matching and locking into a lineup integrity early on.
Adaptation was the success of the Heat’s season. It’ll have to play a major role in season two.