It’s almost playoffs season in the NBA 2K League, which means it’s time to either raise your expectations or lower them dramatically. Warriors Gaming Squad picked up the first playoff berth of the season by winning the Ticket tournament in Orlando, leaving just seven spots left for the field.
With playoffs come championship expectations, most of which are vastly overhyped. Here’s why your team will—or more likely will not—bring home the 2019 NBA 2K League trophy.
No one’s as good as Blazer5 Gaming is for the duration of the regular season, this year or last. No team boasts the 2018 MVP (OneWildWalnut) and the favorite for the 2019 MVP (MamaImDatMan). But the Blazers have also been eliminated in the first round of five consecutive tourneys, including last year’s quarterfinals playoff exit at the hands of Knicks Gaming and one pesky backboard.
They raced out to a 10-0 start to the season on the strength of first-overall quality play from Dimez and a terrific 2019 draft class. But they’ve lost two straight games and haven’t exactly quieted doubters when it comes to the strength of their schedule and the strength of their team longterm.
Warriors Gaming Squad
They’ve already got two banners (and the league’s lone secured playoff spot) in hand from this season, a feat performed by exactly zero other teams. No one’s shown crunch-time cojones like the Warriors, and playoffs are all about making plays in big moments. On the down side, they’ve lost some head-scratching games in the regular season, and there’s no certainty they’ll have an easy road once the playoffs start.
Kings Guard Gaming
Kings Guard boasts one of the most electrifying guards in the league in BP, as well as talent up and down the lineup. In a point guard’s league, that’s what matters. The problem is that that point guard isn’t all that happy in Sacramento, and there are questions as to whether the Kings can keep their run going when it matters.
They’re the 76ers. They’ve won the Tipoff two years in a row, they’ve got one of the best players in the world in Radiant, and they’re one of the league’s most unflappable squads. Then again, Radiant turned in an absolute dud in last year’s semifinals, and the 76ers have had a shakier regular season than anyone expected.
Pacers Gaming found some success in the Ticket, going on a run to the Finals, and they’ve got one of the most lethal cores in the league with Wolf, Ramo, and Swizurk, which might only now be rounding into form. The problem? They didn’t quite win the Ticket, and Swizurk at point guard/Man_in_a_car at the three is hardly a playoff-tested duo.
Cavs Legion GC
Through a tumultuous season, the Cavs have shown serious mettle up and down the roster. They’re on a four-game win streak and found the perfect piece in All Hail Trey and are consequently eyeing something more than last year’s semifinals run. Unfortunately, they’re not out of the woods yet, and their mettle, while tested, hasn’t held up at every occasion (see: Knicks Gaming collapse, Ticket); it’ll need to, if they make the playoffs.
The Bucks are the only team to beat Blazer5 Gaming in the regular season, and Arooks and Plondo have looked like viable MVP candidates for portions of the season. Now, if they could only find a point guard and a shred of consistency…
New head coach Jonah Edwards is one of the best in the business, and the Magic have one of the deepest rosters in the league. The MakeItHappen duo of rookies Reizey and DT is in fine form, and acquiring ToXsiK from the Grizz was the perfect move. But they need to close out games and streaks, and they haven’t done that yet.
Every part of the Nets’ roster has flashed massive potential at some point this season, and if the pieces come together they’ll be in business. They’ve even got the league’s lone Finals MVP providing some championship defense and DNA. But they’ve actually got to put all those pieces together in time to make the playoffs, which is no guarantee.
Compete and Deedz provide the veteran talent and leadership needed to take this team to the promised land, and first overall pick Ria has flown under the radar all year. They haven’t quite settled on a lineup, though, and their perfectly even record indicates that they just haven’t been able to pull away at all this year, which they’ll need to do to make the playoffs.
Raptors Uprising GC
Raptors Uprising has one of the most talented rosters in the league even after dealing All Hail Trey, and Kenny, despite being a first-round pick, might be the most underrated of them all. But they couldn’t do anything in the playoffs last year, and sitting at 5-6 they need a second consecutive phenomenal finish to the year—which takes more than just finishing a game, which hasn’t always been smooth.
The Vandi-Authentic pick and roll duo is gelling at just the right time, and KelMav might just be unleashed in Memphis. But they’ve got the toughest remaining schedule in the league, and they’ve never shown much in tournaments. It’s even harder to show something in the playoffs—especially if you’re not in them.
Well, BearDaBeast has had a thrilling season, and he and newly acquired JMoney have turned into as good an offensive duo as any. The team also has plenty of playoff experience from vets TURNUPDEFENSE and iFeast. They’re not in the playoff picture, though, and blowing massive leads doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. They’re past that, though, right?
Celtics Crossover Gaming
Everyone knows just how good Celtics Crossover Gaming can be when push comes to shove. Superstar point guard Fab and co. had a stretch of three consecutive tournament final appearances; tournament Celtics are a very real thing. But they’ve got a brutal schedule remaining, and more importantly they’ve never won a tournament. They missed out on the playoffs altogether last year, too.
Wizards District Gaming
ReeseDaGod has turned into one of the league’s top scorers, and any team with Dayfri on it—one that’s now on a 4-2 run in its last six games—is one that shouldn’t be counted out. But the Wizards started a paltry 0-4 and have looked terrible for long stretches. They couldn’t win last year with MVP finalist Boo Painter and JT playing as good as usual—they might not even make the playoff this year, much less win it all.
Hawks Talon GC
DatBoyShotz has more than proven himself as the top expansion pick, and Arsonal has quietly had a stellar season as well. The talent, and presumed depth is there. The wins, however, most clearly are not, either in the regular season or in tournament play, where the Hawks haven’t won a game all season.
Heat Check Gaming
Few teams have the playoff pedigree Heat Check possesses, and even fewer have a talent of the caliber of 2018 first-round pick Hotshot. But it’s desperation time in Miami, with the team 4-7, and a new lineup may be too little, too late to get the 2018 runners-up back to the playoffs.
Sorry, Knicks Gaming fans. Barring the utterly miraculous, take comfort in the fact that you’ve already got a trophy at home with which to celebrate.
Sorry, Lakers Gaming fans. Barring the utterly miraculous, rest easy on the fact that your 2019 expansion franchise will be much wiser next year.
Sorry, Pistons GT fans. Barring the utterly miraculous, start looking ahead to a high lottery pick next year.