Last time, I handed out gifts to every NBA 2K League team, so it’s only fitting that I follow up that piece by offering a New Year’s Resolution to each team. With season one in the books, teams have had a chance to learn a lot about the league and about themselves. Let’s see how they build on that.
Hawks Talon GC
Ramp up the marketing. This isn’t to say that Atlanta’s so far behind in this regard, but they announced their team name early, with little fanfare, and had a quiet logo/branding reveal. The team is last among all four NBA 2K League teams in Twitter and Instagram followers, which of course isn’t everything, but, for a franchise with a lot of potential and pride, a marketing uptick has to be a primary concern for VP Business Operations Samir Mayur.
Celtics Crossover Gaming
Extra crunch-time practice. The Celtics finished in second place in two consecutive mid-season tournaments, losing out on a lot of money and a playoff berth. They’re a talented team that figures to mesh well with extended coach Ricco Phinisee, but this year has to be all about finishing. Getting ready for those crunch-time games and possessions has to be priority number one.
Beat Knicks Gaming. The Nets will head into the 2019 season, their first in the NBA 2K League, with high expectations. They’ve got Finals MVP NateKahl, oShockey and Pro-Am legend Ivan Curtiss at the helm. But the league is a pretty chancy proposition, as NateKahl knows. They’ll want to get things off right by beating immediate rivals Knicks Gaming. Anything more, while desirable, might just have to be the cherry on top.
Cavs Legion GC
Secure that JibJab partnership. The Cavs staff is very fond of JibJab e-cards and videos. The Cavs had a pretty successful season one, though there’s always more to improve on, but their partnership team is so strong that they can afford to prioritize whatever they want. Which seems to be JibJab, soon to be the Official E-Card of Cavs Legion GC.
Cavs Legion on Twitter
Happy New Year! 🎊 https://t.co/Vl6nwoKo0p
A full season’s worth of practice time. There are a lot of resolutions the Mavs need to make, but we’ll go with something that’s pretty exclusive to the Dallas franchise. Having drafted three international players in season one, the Mavs lost a lot of early-season practice and bonding time, not managing to conduct a full team practice before The Tipoff tournament. Let’s not do that again, shall we?
Score some points. The Pistons ranked dead last in the league in points per game, per 2kAnalytics. Then the team traded its leading scorer to the Pacers. The plan should be to find some scoring with its two first-round picks, complementing iinsanitty and JoesphTheTruth and hopefully putting the Motor City pedal to the metal after finishing second-last in pace in season one.
Warriors Gaming Squad
Nail some first-round picks. The Warriors swung and missed on its first-round pick in season one, with Shawn Win ranking last among first-round picks in points per game and usage rate (to be fair, he was the final pick of the first round). That can’t happen again in season two, where WGS has the second and tenth overall picks after trading Vert in a retain-and-swap to Lakers Gaming. This draft will determine the course of the franchise for years, and nailing those first-rounders is the only way to hammer in the right foundation.
Make Primetime more than Twitch. The Pacers, after protecting Wolf and Swizurk and acquiring MVP candidate LetsGetItRamo, have the potential to be must-see NBA 2K League TV. Their Twitch schedule, Pacers Primetime, is a good marketing and content move, but the best marketing and content is winning. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this team going into year two. It’s on them to validate it all.
Don’t get lost in the limelight. The Lakers will be one of the most high-profile franchises in the league. They’re already building on that reputation with Mootyy and his shades. But the Lakers have two former first-round picks and a former team-high scorer in Vert. The lights will be bright, but as all three players know, the most important thing is to win.
Share the wealth. If America’s Navy, a leading Grizz Gaming partner, was forged by the sea, the 2018 incarnation of Grizz Gaming was forged by the shot-creating slasher. The team has one of the league’s best players in AuthenticAfrican, but both he and team management want to share the scoring load more this season. More ball distribution will lead to more wins for a Grizz Gaming team that struggled in tournaments and failed to make the postseason.
Heat Check Gaming
One man army, one team title. The resolution for last year’s runners-up is pretty clear. This time around, win. The Heat get three core players back for season two in Hotshot, Majes7ic and Dropoff, and could well bring back more season one players in the draft. The one man army fell one day short last year, and they’re no doubt resolved to rectify that this time around.
Cut the gratuitous lineup changes. The Bucks changed up their starting five nearly every game last year, and finished 6-8 (I’ll imply some causation, not just correlation). This year, the team must prioritize finding an identity early on in the year and developing that. It’s like a new diet—cut out all those pointless one-off position/archetype changes, and make people fear a healthy deer.
Make it about more than the training center. The T-Wolves unveiled some spiffy renderings of their training center when they revealed their logo, but coach Shawn Vilvens knows that it’s about more than visuals. One point of comparison is the Mavs, whose sprawling facility wound up being a high point of a dismal season. The T-Wolves will do well to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen in Minnesota.
Repeat, baby. There’s only one thing that the Knicks can resolve to do, and that’s recapture the NBA 2K League title that they earned in 2018. With four players back from that championship-winning squad, the Knicks are making no secret of their redux ambition for season two. Not relying on The Ticket to make the playoffs will help.
Coach knows what’s up. The Magic are approaching things with more in the bank this time around. The team hired former Mavs Gaming coach Jonah Edwards, whose experience and presence will be extremely helpful for a Magic team whose coaching headset switched heads throughout the season. The franchise loved the chemistry their guys had, but at some point you need to rely on a 2K coach to make 2K decisions.
Don’t stop showing up. The 76ers were one of the best teams in the league all year, but technically peaked with their Tipoff tournament victory. Radiant knows he can’t hesitate as he did in in the team’s sweep at the hands of Heat Check Gaming in the playoffs, and the 76ers have enough identity and integrity to cut out the inexplicable losses (Knicks, Bucks) that occasionally popped up during the season.
Make good on being the favorite. The Blazers may have been one backboard away from a Finals appearance, but hindsight is 20/20. The team went out and made a contender-level move in the offseason, trading its first-round pick for King_Peroxide, and Portland knows it’s championship or bust. They’re the only team with two MVP candidates: team captain MamaImDatMan and MVP/DPOY OneWildWalnut, and they were the best team in the regular season. Blazer5 is sick of the underdog story; they want to make being the favorites mean something.
Kings Guard Gaming
Hire a coach to unclog the paint. The Kings debuted a radically different lineup for the Ticket, and earned their best victory of the season over Blazer5 in a first-round upset. A crucial reason: they departed from the double-masher style and opened up the paint for Mootyy. He’s gone, but big man Colt is back in Sac-Town with a recipe to success in the paint spelled out by history. Point guard Colt sufficed, but the Kings didn’t draft him to play the point. I hear coaches are good for unclogging paints.
Raptors Uprising GC
Get off to a fast start. The Raptors were the hottest team in the second half of the season, steamrolling their way to the 4th seed with a 7-1 second half of the campaign, but that’s not tenable. They’ll look to start the year off with more than a 1-5 record (admittedly against a brutal schedule) and find their way to the playoffs with consistent dominance, not streaky success. Though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind going 7-1 to close out the year again.
Finish the season strong. This is the opposite resolution of that of the Raptors. The Jazz lost seven consecutive games to finish the season after a 5-2 start. That, needless to say, can’t happen again, especially with a number one overall pick in Salt Lake City. This year, it’s all about chemistry and winning. Compete isn’t styled Compete for nothing—he and Deedz are competitors who have no intention of replicating last year’s slide. Hiring a coach will help.
Wizards District Gaming
Go into the season with no distractions. Yes, the Wizards are without leading scorer Boo Painter, but they’re talented enough to compensate for that. What may be more important is to not let the tumultuous offseason affect their start to the season. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose, and all that.