Welcome to Late Night Notes. We’ll be recapping every night of NBA 2K League action in a more casual style than our previews. These will be stream of consciousness ramblings about the games as they happen: snap judgments, quickfire analysis and little editing.
We’re still trying something a bit different, talking about general topics relevant to the night of games rather than the old format. Let’s get to it.
All Hail the Shotcreating Post Scorer
This build is so damn cool, and Hawks Talon GC’s Dat Boy Shotz makes it fun to watch. I would welcome any meta that would make this build more prominent throughout the league. It’s a breath of fresh air in the spacing-crazy era of basketball.
It wasn’t as efficient in the first game as we saw it two weeks ago against Kings Guard Gaming, but it’s a legitimate weapon, and its full power was unleashed against Nets GC. Shotz’s 29 points led the way for the Hawks, and he abused the Nets’ post players. That’s what you get at the build’s best, at a position that usually only gives you some shooting and defense.
And if we’re being honest, Shotz should have been more selfish in the final possession of tonight’s game against Mavs Gaming and taken the final shot himself. It also forces defenses to adjust: Rux was forced to deal with Shotz on defense instead of using his defensive build and size advantage on the sharpshooting build at small forward. The shotcreating post scorer itself isn’t even a liability on defense. Some of the defensive badges are missed, but Shotz isn’t getting blown by for 20 a game, plus he leads the league in steals.
I don’t expect a lot of teams to copy it, and you need a player of Dat Boy Shotz’s caliber to pull that kind of offense off (I’m not sure off the top of my head who would be the best candidate to do it, either). But Hawks games are a must-watch now if you want to see some unorthodox NBA 2K League basketball. I hope they never change.
T-Wolves Gaming Wins the Battle of Dysfunctional Franchises
If you haven’t been keeping up, 1. where have you been? And 2. it hasn’t been the best week for either Celtics Crossover Gaming or T-Wolves Gaming. First, Hood requested a trade, as reported by Josiah here at DIMER. Then oFAB and ProFusion, the Celtics’ two best players, made it clear that they were open to moves out of Boston (again reported by the one and only Josiah). Then to top things off, Minnesota fired Head Coach Shawn Vilvens for reasons unknown at this point.
As fate would have it, these two teams matched up in week four, and it looks like we can officially crown the Celtics as the league’s most dysfunctional franchise. The C’s are now 0-4 in the regular season after making it to the finals of the Tipoff, and no lineup change is going to fix things at this point.
Not that they didn’t try. ProFusion made the move to center on a sharpshooting rebounder to try and generate a more effective pick and pop, with Bulleyy moving to the shooting build at small forward, Mel East on the lockdown defender and No Autographs at power forward.
But the results were the same as always. Fab had himself a game with 23 points and 10 assists on 10-for-14 shooting, but no one else stepped up. This still remains an abysmal shooting team. Ironically, Mel East shot 66% (on three attempts) from 3-point range on the pure lock, but you can’t expect your pure lock to carry an offensive load.
It’s a good bounce-back for the T-Wolves, whose players haven’t actually seemed that thrilled over the firing of Vilvens. Star point guard BearDaBeast said as much in his postgame interview on stream, dedicating the win to his former head honcho after showing similar support on Twitter. The main man had a game of his own: 27 points and 9 assists on 11-for-16 shooting. Safe to say if you were to bet on one of these teams pulling out of their current funk, you’d put the house on T-Wolves Gaming.
Mavs Gaming Still Cannot Pull Away at the End of Games
“But they’re 7-0, why does it matter?” At the moment, it doesn’t matter much. It would take a catastrophic second half of the season for Mavs Gaming to not make the playoffs.
But as it stands only two of Mavs Gaming’s seven wins have come against teams above .500: Heat Check Gaming and Hawks Talon GC. The rest of the Mavs’ schedule is a combined 4-9 outside of the games they played against Dallas, and Big D has won those games by an average of just over four points.
You can only play the games on your schedule, and yes, going 7-0 under any circumstances is still an impressive feat in the NBA 2K League where parity rules. But this trend is still something to keep an eye on as we get closer to the playoffs, because there are no below-.500 teams in the postseason. How long can grinding out wins be sustained in this league? Pistons GT was a similar team in season one: a third seed with a negative point differential because it won close and lost big. They were a first-round exit in the playoffs.
Some of it comes down to the eye test. Mavs Gaming is on a similar run to Blazer5 Gaming from last year, but you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that they’re on the same level. They certainly haven’t had anyone play as prolifically as Mama Im Dat Man or OneWildWalnut.
The good news is we’ll get a better idea of where this team stands in the second half of its schedule. The Mavs have games against Bucks Gaming, 76ers GC, Warriors Gaming Squad and Blazer5 Gaming, all teams you could argue are in the upper echelon of the league.
All of this isn’t to say the Mavs aren’t a good team. They’re very clearly a good team. But it’s hard to place where exactly they stand among the elite teams of the league, and it feels like we’ll only be able to answer that question come playoff time.
Pacers Gaming Wins in an Un-Pacers Gaming-like Way
Speaking of elite teams, Pacers Gaming continued its own unbeaten run with a close win over Magic Gaming, and it came in a way that we haven’t seen before.
Just for starters, Matty exploded for 31 points on 13-for-16 shooting, a situation which would make you a very rich person if you had bet on it before the game. On top of that, the team only forced eight turnovers, a fine number, but not as many as you’d expect with a defense this stingy. There’s also the relatively quiet performance of Swizurk, who only shot 25% from 3-point land on the way to a 9-point outing.
The emergence of Matty in the past few weeks has made the Pacers an even scarier team than they were previously. Now, it’s time to put all of that together. Much like the Mavs, the Pacers have had plenty of close calls (sans their opening night 38-point blowout of Jazz Gaming). If the defense gets going, and Matty sustains this kind of play—maybe not 30 points a night but more of a 17 points per game-type player—and Swizurk and Ramo stay heavily involved in the offense, this team will be one of the toughest outs in the league.
It’s a bit of a shame for Magic Gaming, who had a chance at a signature win to complete their bounce-back from an 0-2 start. They even had a lead about midway through the final frame. Reizy dished out 12 assists, but his up-and-down season continues. The ninth overall pick has shown flashes of his potential with strong scoring outputs, but has just as many, if not more games where his inefficiency gets the best of him. How the Magic finish this season mostly rests on his shoulders. The other pieces have fallen in place, but an uptick in shooting from the most important player on the team will go a long way for Orlando’s playoff chances.