The NBA 2K League is a copycat league. Teams take plays, ideas, and lineups from their competitors, and in some cases run those blatantly against the team from which they stole the move. It’s all part of the game. Speaking of copycats, here’s a look at some of those plays and ideas, from last night’s NBA 2K League action, in a format taken from the great Zach Lowe of ESPN.
Mavs Gaming, moving the ball
MavsBallMovementTrey (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
This is a phenomenal play to punish Lakers Gaming for its full-court lock press. Ball movement needs not be out of fashion in a pick-and-roll heavy league. Sherm gets credit for making the extra pass as Kontrul and Vert collapse on him, leaving Mo, who started the play with a pass to a cutting Dimez, open at the top of the arc.
In the past—namely last season, when he played on the shot creating slasher—Dimez has been a hesitant cutter. He’s such a through-and-through point guard that he needs the ball in his hands. But his decisiveness in not stopping to receive the ball makes this play, and he’s easily able to dot the corner against the pinch-prone Mootyy.
Speaking of pinch-prone:
MoCornerDot (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
Mo fires an absolute dot here to Sherm in the corner, who needs no extra pass this time to bury the three. Mootyy isn’t in particularly poor position, but it’s a testament to Pete’s roll gravity that Mootyy respects the roll.
The Mavs are 4-0, and not without reasons such as this.
Goofy757 playing smart defense
Another talented player who has taken subtle strides from last year is Knicks Gaming center Goofy757.
GoofyPaintPnRDefense (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
Last year’s Goofy would hedge hard in both pick-and-roll opportunities. He’d be out of position, the point guard would find the roll man, the Knicks defense would scramble. This year, he’s been smarter about his pick-and-roll defense. He knows that Reizey is cold and that DT isn’t much of a fade threat at center. He’s starting a little lower against picks, which enables him to take away the roll more easily and get back to defend against cuts as well. That in turn gives him better box-out positioning. He’s leading the league with a gargantuan 17.5 rebounds per game.
It’s easy to for champions to fall back into bad habits and assume they can just replicate what worked in their title-winning year. The Knicks are doing that in other aspects, but it’s nice to see one of the league’s best players getting even better.
Communication is a necessity, not a luxury
I could rant on and on about how teams don’t communicate enough on defense. Every single team has lapses, but some have far more than others.
BadLakersTransitionDefense (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
Picking on the Lakers here is somewhat unfair, but there’s something vaguely amusing about the synchronicity with which Kontrul and Detoxys turn to face Mo, bringing up the ball, and then turn to close out on Sherm, left open in the corner, in vain. Who’s got ball? It’s a conversation, not a lottery—or at least it should be.
Again, the Lakers are far from the only culprits. In the first game of the night, the Magic allowed far too many dunks off busted pick-and-roll coverage, for example. There are HyperX headsets on stage for a reason. Use them.
Post feeds, so good
Speaking of the Magic, they brought out a tactical masterpiece against the T-Wolves in their second game (and second win) of the night. Knowing that the T-Wolves are a switch-heavy defense, the Magic worked to get the matchups they wanted and actually took advantage of their mismatches, something too few teams care to do.
CamPostFeedTrey (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
They get KingCamRoyalty switched onto the smaller Turnupdefense in the post and get a nice post entry feed. When Bear doubles from the corner, JoJo shifts down to split both three-point threats. But KingCam times his feed perfectly, and KelMav buries the triple.
KingCamPostFeedOop (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
The Magic do it again in crunch time. Another nice entry pass of a switch gets KingCam on Turnup on the low block, and he finds a perfectly cutting DT (on a sleeping Hood) for an alley-oop. Heat Check Gaming is particularly good at this sort of play, and they get the alley-oop more times than not. See above, copycat league.
Leaky transition means buckets
Long threes bounce further off the rim than short twos do. Defenses have seemingly forgotten this, as there is a distinct proclivity to leak out in transition when the rebound is uncertain. This leads to open shooters and defenders caught in no man’s land.
KnicksEarlyLeakout (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
Hazzaa and Idris take off, but the board goes to the Magic. KelMav gets another shot, but misses again (Bucks Gaming’s BigMeek feasts on these second-chance treys), and Hazzaa and Idris take off AGAIN, and the Magic get the rebound. Sigh.
KnicksEarlyLeakout2 (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
They take off yet again here as the Magic secure a rebound. The Knicks defense can’t coordinate enough, and DT is wide open under the basket for an easy dunk.
Leaking out it transition can certainly lead to free points. But knowing when and how to properly leak out is what separates the teams with positive transition numbers from those coughing up points.
Excellent set plays of the night
Two beautiful set plays from the night.
RaptorsTridentDunk (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
Great variation on a double high wrap from the Raptors here. KingQuai, with the ball, acts as a sort of fulcrum in the middle. All Hail Trey breaks off the traditional route to dive to the net, and KingQuai finds him. Trey gets the dunk, but he could also have found shooters open in the corner. Nifty way to shake up expectations and create a situation where the defense has to think quickly—here not quickly enough.
TWolvesElevatorHood (Week3) – Clipped by josiahcohen13
The T-Wolves have some amazing plays of their own. This is a sweet elevator for Hood off an inbound. The horns set is helped by a little chip from Turnupdefense as Hood cycles under the basket, and JoJo sets the clinching cruncher against his man to ensure Hood gets a wide-open jumper. Great play design and execution.