The offseason is officially here!
Another huge congratulations to T-Wolves Gaming for their title run. But now it’s time to get down to business.
The league officially announced the protection parameters for teams this offseason and it spurned me to delve deeper into what I think could happen in response to that.
So similar to last year, teams are required to retain two players prior to heading into next season. As the league grows, however, many of us were wondering if the league would up that number. They did, in a sense, by permitting teams to retain a third player (prior to the 2019 expansion draft) for the cost of a third-round pick.
This changes a lot of things as it allows teams to keep more of its core headed into another season, why also keeps the balance necessary for a fresh league with new teams joining.
Teams could also keep players based on results of the expansion draft but since we have no idea how the expansion draft will go, I figure I will only predict up to the three players kept prior to expansion. So without further ado, let’s get to it:
Pistons GT: May, DevGoss
Needless to say, the Pistons have quite an offseason ahead of them.
However, even though the season wasn’t ideal in terms of results, they still have some pieces to be optimistic about moving forward.
May was one of the two first-round selections in the Pistons’ 2019 draft. He lived up to that first-round billing as much as possible and it would be interesting to see how he could thrive in an offense actually able to score.
DevGoss was acquired via trade with Hawks Talon GC, in exchange for the Pistons’ other first-round selection, Mr Stylez. DevGoss was brought in by both organizations to play PG, but I’ve always believed he was better suited as a secondary scorer and ball-handler. If the Pistons could put Dev in a system in which he wasn’t the primary source of offense, he could potentially blossom into a valuable asset for them.
Lakers Gaming: Mootyy, Vert
The Lakers are an organization known for championships in real life despite recent struggles. Similar issues were apparent with Lakers Gaming this year as well.
The team finished the year 3-13 and looked like one of the bottom-tier teams for the duration of the season. Yet similar to Pistons GT, that doesn’t mean it can’t figure things out.
This year specifically, the Lakers offense was atrocious, mostly because of the void of a true point guard. Mootyy could still be a great player on a winning team, but they need to bring in a floor general.
Vert hasn’t had an above-average point guard in two years, and he was forced to try his hands at the position himself this season, which didn’t go well. Vert is far superior as a scorer out of the corner and as a defender. Like Mootyy, he could benefit greatly from the organization bringing in a true floor general.
Knicks Gaming: Goofy757, OriginalMalik
Goofy757 is still one of the premier centers in the game. Not much was said as to why he didn’t play in the Ticket tournament, coincidentally the Knicks best performance this year. But there is still no question who is the superior talent on this team. Goofy757 can change the game on both sides of the floor and he is a player worth building around if you have any intentions of winning another title.
I brought up the Ticket tournament, and OriginalMalik was a big reason the Knicks were able to have that type of showing there. He won first team all-tournament honors and showed the type of player he could be if he given the keys to the team. Malik embraces the secondary scoring role, but with that he needs the first-option to be elite. If the Knicks can implement a true point guard for these two players, WATCH OUT!
Hawks Talon GC: DatBoyShotz, Rando
What seems to be a trend with these predictions is that despite a lackluster season, Hawks Talon still has some pieces to still build around.
Most notably, DatBoyShotz, the number one pick in the 2019 expansion draft, is one of the elite overall players in the league. Not only is Shotz one of the best power forwards in the game, he has shown his elite versatility throughout his two-year league career. Without a doubt, Shotz can be the best player on a contending team, he just needs the others to hold up their end of the bargain. Bring him back without hesitation and don’t mess up the draft selections for a second year straight.
I went back and forth with also selecting to retain Rando and a huge part in that decision was his willingness to take over the point guard role when no one else would. Rando is best known for his shooting prowess but his willingness to take on the floor general role should score him points with the front office. Should the Hawks bring in a commendable option at point guard, expect to see a better version of Rando this year.
Heat Check Gaming: Hotshot, MOAM
Heat Check probably experienced the biggest dropoff of any team this year. Many expected them to compete for a title for a second year straight. Powered by a star-studded roster with head coach FamousEnough leading the charge, they seemed poised to get over that hump this year. Instead, they finished with a bottom-five record in the league.
Still, you have to keep a player like Hotshot. He has shown how much he can change a game in both seasons, on the shot-creating slasher in 2018 and this year on the post scorer. Hotshot is a game-changer, period.
MOAM is a player who could thrive next to a scoring point guard, and with the Heat poised to have a high pick in this year’s entry draft to get that point guard, it’s safe to say MOAM is the choice here.
NetsGC: NateKahl, Lav, Shuttles
The Nets are the first team I believe should protect three players prior to the 2019 expansion draft.
NateKahl is without a doubt the leader on and off the court for this NetsGC team. Although he wasn’t quite able to showcase his top-tier defensive ability as much as some were expecting, he still made his presence known week by week.
Lav had a late start to the party, mostly due to the logjam NetsGC had at point guard and sharpshooter to begin the year. As the season progressed, however, Lavish was granted opportunities to prove his talent and he did just that while showing off some versatility.
Shuttles experienced the same type of adversity as Lav early on in the year, thrown into a logjam at the center position, having to battle with oShockey for the starting spot throughout the year. At about the mid-season point, we finally saw Shuttles take control of the starting center position and he never looked back. His defensive IQ is something you just can’t teach. If he were to get another crack at it with a full season under his belt, look for him to really turn some heads with his production.
Wizards District Gaming: Dayfri, ReeseDaGod
Without a doubt Dayfri still comes back. Dayfri is considered one of the best big men in the world. There isn’t a weak point you could look to exploit with him and although he wasn’t quite as productive as some would have hoped this year, he did about as much as anyone could do. Bring back Dayfri under any circumstance and put some better pieces around him.
Some may be shocked but ReeseDaGod was one of the most improved players this year. Without Reese’s improved production, it’s hard to imagine the Wizards end the year on a high-note. Although he wasn’t able to transition to the point guard position well, he definitely showed he could thrive in this league as a sharp. Put him next to a point guard that can actually run an offense and don’t be shocked if he looks even better next year.
While Demon JT is the team’s first-ever draft selection, his numbers this season mean it may be time to move on as the franchise looks to win now with Dayfri.
Warriors Gaming Squad: BSmoove, Gradient, CB13
Warriors Gaming Squad achieved what no other team in league history has never done — won back to back tournaments. With that, though, comes some tough decisions in keeping your core as strong as possible. Whoever is the fourth player left out, that player has a high percentage of being selected in the 2019 expansion draft.
Needless to say, you can only pick three.
First, is a player that I would’ve voted for most improved this year in BSmoove. BSmoove didn’t quite have the best rookie season but he definitely showed what he can do next to elite teammates this year. Although he could be quiet, he seems like the perfect fit next to the guys in Golden State as he always gives 110% on the court.
Gradient ranked highly, specifically for me, as a defensive anchor throughout the year. Even though the defense tailed off a bit to end the year, Gradient is still known for his defensive prowess throughout the league. He is a player you keep at any cost as he showed time and time again how much he can dictate a game on the defensive end.
Then the decision becomes super tough but with how the league is currently set-up, you can’t let a player like CB13 walk. This is a point guard driven league and we saw how atrocious a season could be, from Warriors Gaming specifically, if they weren’t to have one. I think many expected CB13 to be better as a scoring threat but as we saw this season, some of the players who didn’t quite thrive in their rookie season looked better than ever in their second year. Take that risk.
Jazz Gaming: Ria, Compete
First overall selection Ria wasn’t quite granted the best opportunity to thrive this year. Some may already be reconsidering if he should’ve been the first overall pick to begin with, but I must say I am not one. Jazz Gaming had quite a few issues, most notably in my opinion selecting too many sharps in the entry draft. But give Ria another chance to prove himself around some more compatible pieces.
Compete was brought into this league as a point guard but he’s never really been that. Compete always thrived on a bigger build and it just so happened to be a year the point forward was a thing. But even Compete knows this and has even gone to Twitter to say he has given up the point guard position and will now fully focus on being a wing player. This could prove vital for Compete as this has always been where he was best-suited. Give him the opportunity to be that.
Raptors Uprising GC: Sick, Kenny
All Hail Trey was an extremely productive player for this Raptors Uprising team, but the value they could get in Sick at one of the more important positions could prove extremely valuable in the future. Sick is phenomenal on the defensive end and a center anyone should be comfortable building around.
Kenny is the Uprising’s franchise cornerstone and he is here to stay. Kenny’s only knock might be his willingness to trust his teammates to take on roles he may be better at, like point guard, but now seems committed to running the offense in Toronto. Look for a revitalized Kenny to make a statement in season three.
Bucks Gaming: ARooks, Plondo
I spoke about my most improved player earlier but I would not be mad if you made the case for ARooks. After a tumultuous season in which he was not able to play point guard, he finally found his role as an off-ball scorer. Some might even make the case he deserved to be an MVP-finalist but needless to say, he proved himself this year. It could be a scary sight if the Bucks are able to find a point guard in 2K20, because ARooks couldn’t even be stopped when the Bucks didn’t have one.
Many scoffed at the selection of Plondo in the 2019 entry draft, mostly due to their need at point guard. But he proved he is among the best centers in the world this year. Now it’s finally time to use one of those high picks on a point guard.
Cavs Legion GC: oLarry, Godddof2k, All Hail Trey
oLarry started off the year at power forward, but after Sick’s departure, he quickly became one of the elite defensive stalwarts in the league at center. oLarry’s ability to also play pretty much anything 3-5 makes him a really good guy to bring back for another year.
The reigning, defending, undisputed Defensive Player of the Year, Godddof2k, will without a doubt be back. He is now the lone soldier left from the 2018 Cavs Legion team that went to the semifinals. But rightfully so, he is a player they can continue to build around.
I also believe the Cavs should retain All Hail Trey in exchange for a third-round pick. His offensive production at the power forward position is something you can’t find everyday. Bring in a backcourt duo that can put the ball in the hoop (potentially including Strainer if he isn’t drafted in the 2019 expansion draft) and this Cavs team can continue to grow on the efforts we saw late this season.
Magic Gaming: Reizy, DT, UCManny
Magic Gaming is in prime position to keep building on the foundation it created in season two and become even more of a threat in season three.
That starts with Reizey, the 2019 Rookie of the Year. Some doubted (myself included) Reizey’s ability to transition to point guard at the league level. He was most notably known for being a sharpshooter coming into the draft, and although he did play point guard here and there in the past, he seemed best suited to be a sharp. But he proved everyone wrong. If he can get even better next year, this team really has a chance to skyrocket into contention.
DT also turned heads throughout season two. I even voted for him on my All-Rookie team. He graded out well on both sides of the ball while playing on an offensively-catered archetype throughout the entire year. He was the team’s defensive anchor while averaging 14 points per game.
Magic Gaming should also bring UCManny back for a third season. UCManny’s ability and leadership on and off the court is significantly more valuable than the cost of a third-round pick. He was one of the better on-ball defenders before they traded for ToXSiK and transitioned very well to the sharp position after that. Some may believe Magic Gaming should bring back ToXSiK (and if he isn’t to go in expansion, I’m fully on board with that as well) but I just value UCManny’s versatility a bit more here.
Grizz Gaming: AuthenticAfrican, Vandi
Needless to say, Grizz Gaming should keep the core, starting with AuthenticAfrican. Even though he didn’t put up the historic numbers we saw in season one, he still was a premier center all year long and is an obvious leader in Memphis, plus one who has shown immense versatility.
Vandi had a slow start in his rookie season but he turned it around, even to the point where some even considered him for Rookie of the Year. The league settings are a bit different from the retail version and it’s safe to assume Vandi struggled with that transition. But his ability to figure it out just shows they have a keeper here. Allow him to develop further going into next year and there’s no telling what this team could be.
Celtics Crossover Gaming: oFab, NOxAUTOGRAPHS, Mel East
oFab was predicted by some to be the MVP this year, and although he finished runner-up, you count on him being that type of player every year. As long as oFab is the engine for this team, they have a chance to compete.
NOxAUTOGRAPHS seems to be the perfect complement for him. Long-time Pro-Am teammates on the retail version, these two have the exact chemistry any organization would want out of it’s pick-and-roll duo.
Mel East showed his value as he transitioned to lockdown this year and even drew some DPOY hype. It’s hard to imagine watching a Celtics Crossover game without Mel screaming at the opposition, but his production spoke just as loud. The Celtics could definitely consider keeping ProFusion for this same price (and similar to earlier predictions, if ProFusion makes it out of expansion, he should be kept) but I just think Mel provides more versatility and leadership for this team.
Pacers Gaming: WoLF, Ramo, Swizurk
Pacers Gaming made waves last offseason in acquiring an asset like Ramo. Immediately after the breaking news, many considered Pacers Gaming title favorites. At the very least, they would have a dominant defense. The X-factor was finding a point guard and they were unable to do so.
Still you keep the core and that starts with WoLF. WoLF is considered one of the best lockdowns in the game, and even though he had an underwhelming season, he’s a player you count on every year to adjust and remain elite.
Ramo took home All-2K League First Team honors and was an MVP finalist in season one. Ramo is a different breed. Rarely do you find a player that combines his abilities on both sides of the court at the positions he does it at. I would like to see Ramo trust his backcourt to create more offensively and I think that is a part that isn’t factored when the offense is stagnant, but needless to say you bring Ramo back every time.
Swizurk is still one of the best sharpshooters in the world and if the Pacers are able to finally find a point guard for their system, Swizurk will most likely be the biggest beneficiary of that. It was admirable to see Swiz try his hands at point guard this year (as WoLF did in season one) but it will really be interesting to see how good this Pacers Gaming team is if they maximize everyone at their primary positions.
Kings Guard Gaming: BP, WorthingColt, BallLikeSeem
BP was the answer to the Kings’ point guard question at third overall this year, staying in Rookie of the Year contention, securing a spot on the MVP ballot and leading the team to the playoffs. With that resume, this is a no-brainer.
WorthingColt is a great option at center. And while most of the light was shined on other teammates, Colt was always doing the dirty work down low. He specializes more when mashing is in the game, but he can do the things necessary out of a center when the gameplay is how we saw in season two.
BallLikeSeem seems to be a favorite of BP and he is definitely one of the premier sharps in the world today. Another year of BP and Seem running the offense could mean another year of progression all-around.
T-Wolves Gaming: BearDaBeast, Feast, JMoneyRep817
BearDaBeast was an integral part in the T-Wolves’ championship run and is the first person you think about when you think of Wolves’ retention. He played with a chip on his shoulder all year as he felt he was snubbed by more than one team in the 2019 entry draft. But he made it all count and brought home that trophy. Bear is the perfect player to build around and try to repeat as champs.
Feast is another player you could consider a vital piece for the Wolves’ success. As important as Bear is to the Wolves’ offense, Feast is exactly that to the Wolves defense. He was the anchor all throughout the year and he’ll continue to be that for this team for years to come.
This is where is gets a bit tough, but I think the Wolves have to keep JMoneyRep817. He meshed really well with this group of guys, and is a player who has played a lot of positions at a high-level. He is definitely a person you want in your arsenal headed into a new game.
76ers GC: Radiant, Steez, Breadwinner
A big part of the 76ers’ continued success is due to Radiant. Many consider him the best point guard in the world and the Sixers also think exactly that. Radiant was an MVP finalist this year, and although he experienced some dry spells throughout the year, you saw him completely take over in pretty much every must-win game.
Steez is the perfect complement for a player like Radiant. He is a selfless player that will play any role his teammates and coach ask. As we saw him transition from the sharpshooting rebounder to glass cleaner, Steez is definitely all-in for the team. He is also versatile enough to play 3-5 and that’s always a plus headed into a new game.
Breadwinner’s defensive impact really turned around the Sixers regular season. Prior to him switching to the sharpshooting rim protector, the Sixers were teetering on playoff contention. Then once he made that switch, you saw an entirely different team. We still ask how he fell that far in this year’s draft, but Sixers got him and he’s there to stay.
Mavs Gaming: Dimez, PeteBeBallin, Sherm
The Mavs turned around from a poor first season, and it started with Dimez. Dimez was a bit underwhelming in season one, and even though he wasn’t really considered a top-five point guard this year, he still produced well enough to get this team in the playoffs.
PeteBeBallin was one of the best rookies this year. I even considered him for Rookie of the Year for quite awhile. He’s definitely a player you want to bring back and continue to develop and build around. He is a great complement to Dimez and is an extremely skilled big man.
Sherm was considered among the best lockdowns all season long. And he was a big part in the Mavs turnaround this year. Sherm is also a versatile player that we’ve seen play ball-handler in the retail version, which always works out headed into a new game.
Blazer5 Gaming: Mama Im Dat Man, OneWildWalnut, Lavish Phenom
League MVP Mama Im Dat Man was electrifying all season long. It just so happened in the games they needed him most, or in games where others should’ve stepped up, neither happened. But without a doubt this Blazer5 team will be in the hunt again, as we saw in the last two season, and Mama will play a huge part in that.
Then they have former MVP OneWildWalnut. Both players took home All-2K League first team honors. It just goes to show how talented this duo is. As long as these two keep progressing together, and they finally get some offensive help in the draft, a championship is not out of the question.
Lavish Phenom is up there for “most improved” in the league. He was asked to play a role he never played before headed into this year, and was considered one of the elite defenders this year. His comfort with being an off-ball scorer as well is more than enough for Blazer5 to keep him around for a third season.