It’s been a long time since I’ve done these rankings, but with the season concluding in dramatic fashion, it’s time. The star player ranking takes into account more than skill, although talent is a crucial prerequisite for an appearance: it considers player marketability, franchise cornerstone importance and as many intangibles as possible.
Just missed: oFab (Celtics Crossover Gaming), Radiant (76ers GC), oLarry (Cavs Legion GC), Chiquita (Warriors Gaming Squad), ToXsiK (Magic Gaming)
5. NateKahl, NetsGC
Nate is one of the most thoughtful people in the entire NBA 2K League. He also happens to be the season one NBA 2K League Finals MVP, back when he played for Knicks Gaming. He was the clear-cut selection for NetsGC in the 2018 expansion draft, and his marketability and presence set the tone for the team’s positive culture.
While Nate didn’t have the strongest of seasons in his first year in Brooklyn, playing on a lockdown defender, he still impressed off the court. Nate was a natural choice to captain a team in the 2019 Showcase, where he played point guard and scored more than 20 points on the stage for the first time ever.
4. MamaImDatMan, Blazer5 Gaming
Mama knew best! The league’s Alienware commercial rings true: Mama was the best player in the league in the 2019 season, picking up MVP honors to match his mantle with that of teammate OneWildWalnut. An MVP trophy this season, and the branding that comes with it, means more than any other regular-season award. Mama has the stats, the awards and the trash talking to lead one of the league’s standard-bearing franchises.
Despite an early playoff elimination for the second consecutive season, Mama is one of the best-known players outside the 2K community. MVP, commercial leads and a fondness by the league for Mama to take over their Instagram Live after a game have all turned him into one of the league’s on- and off-court stars. The only thing missing to take him up a level is playoff success.
3. iamadamthe1st, Knicks Gaming
Looking for playoff success? Look no further than Knicks Gaming point guard iamadamthe1st. Sure, Nate was the Finals MVP and Mama was the 2019 season MVP. But Adam is one of the league’s most charismatic players. It was his play that helped the Knicks to a miraculous Ticket title and subsequent NBA 2K League title, and as a point guard in New York, that sort of goes a long, long way.
But Adam makes more than the most of it. He has no shortage of YouTube subscribers and branding beyond the NBA 2K League, exceeding any other league player. Adam captained a Showcase team for the season straight year; he won it all in 2018. Is he the best player on this list? No, but he’s one of the most successful players in league history on the court and quite probably the most successful player off of it.
2. Dimez, Mavs Gaming
Dimez doesn’t have a title, MVP award or Finals MVP award. But he’s still one of the most iconic NBA 2K players in history, representing the mainstream rise of NBA 2K esports and landing the honor of going first overall in NBA 2K League history (and consequently a photo opportunity with Adam Silver). After a disappointing first season in which he missed the playoffs, Dimez garnered MVP discussion by leading the Mavs to the second overall seed.
Beyond his skill, perhaps no player is as solidified a franchise cornerstone as Dimez. Season one’s disappointment led the Mavs to rebuild completely, entirely around Dimez, trading Dayfri and overhauling their entire coaching staff and front office. That’s pretty clear-cut power.
1. BearDaBeast, T-Wolves Gaming
I’m prepared to say it right now: Bear is now the undisputed top dog, the face of the league after leading T-Wolves Gaming to a championship in the team’s first season in the league. He proved himself one of the best players in the league during the T-Wolves’ sprint to the playoffs, and then laughed away all the doubters with an exceptional playoff campaign and eventual Finals MVP award (joining Island Gang teammate NateKahl).
Pile on top of that his appearances on national media, his omnipresent quotes and soundbytes and his sheer personality, and you’ve got a player on top of the world right now. He also managed to win the Showcase the night before the Finals, teaming up with former NFL wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to take home an extra prize. Bear will represent the league more than anyone else over the offseason, talking and smiling and winning over fans.
It’s a really good thing they let him in.