There’s no draft tradition like grades.
Let’s dig a little deeper into what we’re trying to accomplish here, though. What draft strategy did the team use? What big decisions did they make or not make? How well do they project for season 2?
Answering some of those questions requires a little subjectivity. Draft grades are about deciding if teams picked well or not. We won’t know the answer until the season is well underway, but as noted above, there’s no tradition like draft grades.
But first, let’s actually enumerate the grading scale and see where subjectivity comes in. If a team had one pick and nailed it, that’s a good draft, since they optimally controlled what they could control. If a team had 5 picks and was, to use the technical term, “meh,” they’ll be graded accordingly. Subjectivity enters the picture when assessing how much a team “nailed it” and projecting how that draft will translate to the season. If a team took 5 centers, that won’t test well, even if all those centers are amazing. I don’t give out many “A” grades. “B-“range grades are very respectable. C grades are less appealing. Avoid D grades.
Oh, and one other thing. We got league managers to offer comments on various teams’ drafts, anonymously of course.
Let’s see who did well, going in order of the fourth round.
Kings Guard Gaming: B
Picks: BPTheGod (2019 No. 3 pick); BallLikeSeem (2019 No. 22 pick); Roman (2019 No. 37 pick); Yusuf_Scarbz (2019 No. 53 pick); Zakky610 (2019 No. 55 pick)
The Kings were poised to be a dramatic team, sitting at the crucial No. 3 pick. Then the news of Timelycook’s suspension broke, and people speculated that the draft hung on whether the team would change track to replace Timely. Full credit to Kings Guard, however: they didn’t move an inch, and took their top-rated point guard. After a year of bad decisions and messy outcomes for the Kings, that was a very good and important pick. Then they snagged Seem at the start of the second round. He needs to buy in. Roman in the third could potentially be an excellent pick, although he lasted until the third round for a reason. The Kings used their compensatory pick on unretained player Yusuf_Scarbz, who won’t do much to calm the Kings down but also has the potential to work well next to Worthingcolt in the frontcourt. It appears that the Kings and new head coach DJ Layton deployed a pretty balanced strategy. They get a “B” for two reasons: they could have done more at the end of the draft and there are clear question marks about how this team will translate to the league.
Manager says: The Kings did great after the Timelycook news. By getting Yusuf and Zakky late, they have bandaids for lockdowns that make sense this season.
Warriors Gaming Squad: A
Picks: Gradient (2019 No. 2 pick); Kina (2019 No. 10 pick); Jin (2019 No. 38 pick); Chiquitae (2019 No. 56 pick)
If a team with two top-10 picks emerges exultant, with exactly what they coveted, that’s a win. The Warriors wanted the KMT pair of Gradient and Kina all along, and did everything to ensure that they snared those two. They held firm with the correct pick order for the two and were heartily rewarded. Jin was a terrific pick in the third round, a player whose season-one circumstances didn’t correspond with his overall talent. Then Chiquitae, who is a great move for a variety of reasons but is at the core of things an eminently capable player. The Warriors may have some tough decisions to make in season two, but they’ll be the best kind of tough decisions—no wrong answers.
Manager says: Amazing draft. Hit every need on the head with high-quality players.
Jazz Gaming: B
Picks: Ria (2019 No. 1 pick); EasyMoney (2019 No. 23 pick); Gliz2K (2019 No. 39 pick); KevDontMiss (2019 No. 57 pick)
The Jazz did what they needed to do, namely select Ria first overall. With Ria on board and Compete protected from their season one haul, the Jazz become the only team with multiple top-3 picks on the roster. They swept up EasyMoney and Gliz in rounds two and three before selecting the most-followed NBA 2K League player in KevDontMiss in the fourth. I’m worried that they might have too much shooting; the versatile Deedz will help that, as well as Ria’s ability to play 3-5 at an elite level. Do they have the depth across the board, though, if things get tough? It’s a “B” because even though the top pick was easy, that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a great pick for the team.
Manager says: Skill grade A, chemistry grade D.
Pacers Gaming: B-
Picks: Lord Beezus (2019 No. 24 pick); Matty (2019 No. 40 pick); Man_in_a_car (2019 No. 58 pick)
Everyone circled “point guard” when it came to the Pacers. They eventually got there, though only after selecting $250K tournament participant Lord Beezus in the second round. Matty’s transition to the league will be crucial for the Pacers’ success. Man_in_a_car is a great pick in the fourth round and must take the sting out of missing Pacers Gaming intern Dr_JoJo_30 in the fourth. Here’s the thing, though: the Pacers appear poised to hold you to 40 points, but will they put up 41 at the same time? The best move the Pacers made in the draft was acquiring Lets_Get_it_Ramo in exchange for the fourth overall pick. Unfortunately for their grade, they don’t get credit for that here.
Manager says: Pacers could’ve waited a round or two for Lord Beezus. Matty isn’t a bad PG, but there were better options at PG before they selected Beezus.
Mavs Gaming: A
Picks: PeteBeBallin (2019 No. 5 pick); ByanymeansMo (2019 No. 14 pick); Sherm (2019 No. 25 pick); Rux (2019 No. 41 pick); Grant Monster (2019 No. 59 pick)
I was very impressed by the Mavs’ draft. It demonstrated the maturity and clear decision-making of the new front office and coaching staff. Pete at 5 was the right decision, and the Mavs made it. Mo will be an interesting fit, more off the court than on the court, but he and Dimez seem very ready to play together. Sherm at 25 is also a great pick, as he could have landed in the late first round with little surprise. Rux is versatile beyond belief and experienced. Grant Monster at 59 is absolute thievery; a proven pure sharp in the league last year, he has dominated at a new position on 2K19 and has the perfect character for the Mavs. Dallas drafted with the right ideals in mind and set themselves up to attain them in season two.
Manager says: Mavs did great. A great job of getting ‘Dimez’ type players. I was surprised they didn’t take Greatness (although I don’t think Greatness is better than anybody they selected).
Bucks Gaming: C-
Picks: Plondo (2019 No. 6 pick); SlayIsland (2019 No. 17 pick); Chaddynick (2019 No. 26 pick); RSG (2019 No. 60 pick)
We rapidly retreat from “A” range and head to Milwaukee, where Bucks Gaming pulled off the head-scratcher of the draft. Slay to the Bucks at 17 was all but guaranteed. But Plondo, at 6? Plondo is a good player and I had him in the late first round based on various positional needs. But there was little chatter of him going there and teams shifted their focus elsewhere as the draft drew nearer. I’m not sure who the Bucks expected to steal him, but the team most likely could have gotten Plondo or even Slay with their 26th overall pick. They locked into Chaddynick and RSG before the draft and stuck to them, regardless of who was falling at the time. “C-” rather than “D+” since they will have some pockets of excellent chemistry to begin with.
Manager says: If Plondo and Slay were their top two targets, they could’ve still taken an impact player at 6 and got one of their main targets in the second.
Grizz Gaming: B+
Picks: Vandii (2019 No. 7 pick); Jayrod (2019 No. 27 pick); Toxsik (2019 No. 41 pick); DDouble (2019 No. 61 pick)
The Grizz did very well in this draft, and the “B+” should not be misconstrued as a slight. Nabbing Toxsik in the third round was a particularly excellent move. The Grizz had their eyes on Vandii from the outset and settled on Jayrod as the draft approached. DDouble is an interesting return pick. He’s improved on 2K19 and by all accounts gets along very well with his protected Grizz teammates. Vandii’s play in the league will eventually determine if this merited an “A”-range grade, but for now, we’ll be conservative and roll with a “B+”.
Manager says: Grizz Gaming for sure picked a great scoring PG in Vandii. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him taking some games over with some high-scoring games. And picking up Toxsik, who has the iBall connection with him, is instrumental in his off the court development as well. If Vandii and Authentic can develop a PnR game they could be a sleeper team to make the playoffs.
Celtics Crossover Gaming: B
Picks: Bully (2019 No. 8 pick); No Autographs (2019 No. 28 pick); Suavy (2019 No. 62 pick)
The Celtics—confident, with reason, in their Fab-led core despite missing the playoffs—seemed to wrestle with the whims of other teams in this draft. That didn’t work out too poorly. They probably reached to get Bully at 8. That’s not to say that Bully isn’t deserving, but the point is that they would have gotten him at, say, 15 if they’d had the 15th pick. They certainly stole him from at least one championship hopeful. In the second round, the Celtics miraculously landed No Autographs, whom they had considered in the first round, at 28 overall. That’s the type of get that bumps up your draft grade.
Manager says: The Celtics pick of Bulley at eight was a complete surprise.
Magic Gaming: B+
Picks: Reid (2019 No. 9 pick); DT (2019 No. 29 pick); Kel Mav (2019 No. 43 pick); TuckerLocksUp (2019 No. 63 pick)
The “B+” train rumbles down to Orlando, where the Magic stuck to their guns in the first round. Faced with a chance to take the falling BearDaBeast, the Magic stuck with Reid, a MakeItHappen guy in whom they’re very confident. They followed that up in the second round by ensuring some early chemistry in the form of fellow MakeItHappen player DT (the lone new Canadian in the league this year). Kel Mav in the third round is a solid pick, and TuckerLocksUp is an absolute steal in the unretained-heavy fourth round. They still lack a top-tier PG, but having who you think are the right players is more important than drafting who you think are the best players.
Manager says: The Magic could have gotten a franchise PG. Whether or not Reid can do it on stage remains to be seen, but I like their draft overall.
Hawks Talon GC: B-
Picks: DevGoss (2019 No. 13 pick); Rando (2019 No. 30 pick); Jay_a_Fool (2019 No. 47 pick); XxSTL2LAxX (2019 No. 64)
The Hawks will have the first manager-turned-player in NBA 2K League history in DevGoss. They’ve got a lot of guards to work into their lineup, which complicates their defensive balance, especially with top expansion draft choice Shotz occupying a forward slot and Arsonal at center. I think STL2LA is a good move late; he’ll be happy to move on from Milwaukee, and he’s also a versatile player who knows how to come off the bench. But could they have done more after the first round?
Manager says: The Hawks are going to fully depend on where they place the three guards that they drafted.
Nets GC: B+
Picks: Wavy (2019 No. 12 pick); Shuttles (2019 No. 31 pick); Lavish (2019 No. 46 pick); iiTz Chas (2019 No. 65 pick)
Next stop on the “B+” train? That would be Barclays Center, Brooklyn. Wavy is a really good player, and one has to trust Curt and Nick Gartrelle, but was Wavy so targeted that he wouldn’t have fallen to a later round? The Nets did land an absolute steal in the second anyway, grabbing Shuttles at No. 31. They then snagged a guard supposedly heading to them a round earlier in Lavish, which is just great drafting. Chas rounds out things nicely. The Nets aren’t going to be in your face; that’s the tone they established from the start and the tone to which they’re adhering. They’ll also have zero team problems during the year, and that counts for a lot.
Manager says: Clearly reaching on Wavy (though he’s a great player), they recovered with three solid picks.
T-Wolves Gaming: B+
Picks: BearDaBeast (2019 No. 11 pick); Turnupdefense (2019 No. 32 pick); Dr_JoJo_30 (2019 No. 45 pick); Nacho Traynor (2019 No. 66 pick)
The T-Wolves always manage to make a splash. Here, they seized on a trend-bucking move and snared the falling BearDaBeast outside of the top 10. Then they grabbed Hood’s former teammate Turnupdefense (more on that shortly), a recent finalist in the $250,000 MyTeam tourney, in the second round. I think Dr_JoJo_30 and Nacho are steals in the later round, not necessarily in terms of firepower but in terms of chemistry, name quality and fit around Hood. That’s the all-important thing: the T-Wolves, one has to hope, cleared the Turnup pick with both Hood and Turnup after, uh, considerations last year in Cleveland. Bear is the headliner here, and if he meshes with Hood the T-Wolves will be absolutely stacked.
Manager says: Honestly a B for me. Bear was a steal and elite. Turnup is amazing.
Lakers Gaming: C
Picks: Kev (2019 No. 33 pick); Detoxys (2019 No. 44 pick); Safiya4ya (2019 No. 67 pick)
Conversely, I’ve always been a little more pessimistic about the Lakers, in part because they haven’t made a huge splash yet. They absolutely love Kev in the second round, but it’s my job to be cautious—is he enough of a secondary ballhandler to complement Kontrul? The Lakers then went the unretained route, picking up the fallen-from-favor Detoxys in the third and Safiya4ya in the fourth. Could they have gotten Detoxys later and found something more in the third round? Safiya is a good fit, though, all things considered. They seem to have an overabundance of big men and sharpshooters and a dearth of wings, even assuming Vert shifts to lock.
Manager says: The Lakers were one of the most puzzling drafts. They took Detoxys when they already have Mootyy there to play center. So my assumption is Vert plays lock, Dextoys at PF and Mootyy at center. I just can’t see it how that’s going to work. They should’ve aimed for another ball handler if Kontrul struggles. This draft seems like one of their players drafted the team and not management.
Wizards District Gaming: B
I really like MrUserPick to the Wizards in the second round. I’m not sure if the rest of their picks give them as high a ceiling as possible, although the chemistry is certainly there. Really, the Wizards had a particularly difficult time due to their offseason circumstances and did a solid job with what they had. But solid isn’t firepower, and the Wizards would have liked to add some further firepower on top of what they already have.
Manager says: Wiz DG started off in the hole with the dismissal of Boo. With Boo, this is a top 5-7 roster. Without, it’s lacking that oomph. The User Pick and Paul B selections were good and I like how they brought Reese and Gilly back.
Raptors Uprising GC: B-
Picks: Doza (2019 No. 15 pick); OOC Slim (2019 No. 35 pick); KingQuai614 (2019 No. 49 pick); TsJosh (2019 No. 69 pick)
I think the Raptors set themselves to regain the incredible offensive balance they had at the end of the 2018 regular season, with even more firepower in the form of Doza. The OOC Slim pick was certainly a surprise and is difficult to decipher, but the Raptors only had that pick by virtue of gambling on KingQuai and TsJosh. They won that gamble, and with it resurgent chemistry and league experience.
Manager says: The Raptors did what they think is best, bringing back two players from last season, but they weren’t a championship caliber team in season one in my opinion, so I don’t truly understand it. Doza helps, but not enough.
Pistons GT: B-
Picks: MrStylez (2019 No. 4 pick); May (2019 No. 16 pick); Jaacko (2019 No. 50 pick); ixsplashkingxi (2019 No. 70 pick)
Will the Pistons convince MrStylez to buy in? That hinders their grade, even though the MrStylez and May double is a very strong first round for the Pistons. Lacking a second-round pick hurts. One has to imagine they could have taken Jaacko in the fourth round and capitalized on the No. 50 pick a little bit better. The Pistons had one of the most difficult draft processes, but they made their most important picks count and did well for themselves.
Manager says: A little curious as to who’s scoring on this team, but May and Stylez are excellent defenders and Pistons GT got it right in round one. The rest of their draft makes little sense as splash was maybe the worst performer in the entire league in season one.
Blazer5 Gaming: C+
Picks: Too cool (2019 No. 36 pick); Jomar12_PR (2019 No. 71 pick)
Look, Blazer5 Gaming believes that they’re already contenders due to their roster heading into this draft. Picking up the well-respected Too cool is icing on the cake. Jomar coming back is a solid chemistry move in the unretained-heavy fourth round. King_Peroxide figures to be a wing scorer, so does that mean the Blazers go lock-less? I’m not sure if the depth is there this year if the Walnut-Mama combo isn’t at the level it reached last season. I think having the No. 17 pick back (along with Peroxide, of course), would have benefited them here. The “C+” should have no bearing on their season performance.
Manager says: I thought for sure Blazer5 were taking Toxsik.
Cavs Legion GC: B-
Picks: LykaPro (2019 No. 18 pick); Strainer (2019 No. 51 pick); SavageDoWerk (2019 No. 72 pick)
Stealing Strainer in the third round really makes this grade. It’s never the wrong move to take the player you love, but who was taking LykaPro before their third-rounder? It’s hard to tell, but it’s far from impossible considering his magnificent combine. I also like SavageDoWerk back to the Cavs. He’s a legitimate Sixth Player of the Year candidate and a player who’s very familiar with the Cavs system and environment. After announcing that they were looking at only three guards, the Cavs left the draft after selecting… three guards.
Manager says: Looks like life after Hood consisted of going after season one veterans. LykaPro made sense for the group they have.
76ers GC: B+
Picks: BreadwinnerLA (2019 No. 19 pick); oCassius (2019 No. 73 pick)
76ers GC clearly would never have let the Liberty Bell fall and crack. They committed highway robbery by snagging Bread—the best player available at No. 19, a guy who’d been mooted in the top 10 in most mocks—at 19, and in a position of need at that. No one’s really sure what to expect from Cassius in the fourth round, but taking a guard in the final round worked out extremely well for 76ers GC last year, and they’re counting on it again. But man. They got Breadwinner at 19.
Manager says: The 76ers did well for the picks that they had. Essentially, they could’ve not retained Newdini and gotten better value with the second round pick he cost, and then brought him back in the fourth round. Breadwinner sliding was a blessing for them.
Heat Check Gaming: A-
Picks: Lotty (2019 No. 20 pick); JMoney (2019 No. 52 pick); ChaChingSingh (2019 No. 74 pick)
I was prepared to hand the Heat a “B”-range grade. While Lotty’s a great player, I don’t think he was at the top of the Heat board. And then Famous got a freaking first-round pick in the third round. JMoney fell for some off-court considerations but there are few teams with as strong a culture as the Heat possess, and when talent falls in line that means danger for other teams. And at a position of need, too? Jeez. Also, ChaChingSingh is the star in arguably the best Pro-Am clip of all time.
Manager says: The Heat got a great value pick in JMoney, chemistry could be an issue but value is super.
Knicks Gaming: B
Picks: Malik (2019 No. 21 pick); HazzaUK2K (2019 No. 75 pick)
The Knicks don’t care about draft grades. They care about championships. That’s why they had the No. 21 and No. 75 picks. Malik has done remarkably well in the 2K19 cycle, playing well at a high competitive level. The Knicks bestowed Hazzaa with the remarkable feat of being picked with the last selection in the draft two years in a row—a remarkable and highly unlikely achievement. He more than performed last year, and the Knicks no doubt like the experience. Malik is the key here, though, and I think this key fits in pretty well.
Manager says: They got what they thought they needed, a top 3 sharp in the pool, and got a versatile guy who will certainly be the 6th man and push players in practice.