The art of valuations is fascinating.
That’s the case in any facet of life. But we now have another opportunity to see it first-hand in the NBA 2K League. The 2020 offseason window opened up this morning at the commencement of the 2019 expansion draft and will be open until Nov. 15th. Teams are allowed to deal up to five assets (players and picks) during this window and the in-season trade window (date TBD).
Some expected quite a few moves, but I don’t think anyone was ready for how many blockbusters this trade window had the potential to offer.
To bring the conversation back to value, I figured it’d be interesting to analyze where exactly I felt these trades played out.
As always with trade grades, we don’t fully understand how trades will play out until we actually see them put into action. Understand that these are open to fluctuate and valuations can change over time.
Magic Gaming seemed to almost carry a void at center throughout season one. That isn’t to knock KingCamRoyalty and TuckerLocksUp, guys who manned the position, but it became apparent that if the Magic wanted to fully consider itself contenders, they needed a game-changer at the center position.
May seems to check all of the boxes in that category. Some may look to his underwhelming season in 2019, after being selected by Pistons GT with the No. 16 pick in the 2019 entry draft, but I am a firm believer that is due more to circumstance than skillset. When you look at when Magic Gaming was at its best, it was when KingCamRoyalty was at his best. Yes, you had Reizey lighting up the scoreboard every game, and DT and ToXSiK getting stops on defense, but when KingCam was dominating the glass, the Magic were extremely hard to stop.
Throw May—whom I believe to be one of the best rebounders in the world—into the equation, with his added IQ and defensive prowess, and the Magic maximize exactly what they desire at that position.
Pistons GT was able to get the 14th overall pick in 2020 in return. Initially this made sense as this deal was announced a little bit before another move the Pistons made (more on that later). But once you find out this will be the Pistons’ earliest pick in this year’s draft, while understanding they are in dire need of a point guard, you can begin to question the thought behind this.
Sure, iiNsaniTTy has looked great on 2K20 so far this year, and I would assume that may play a big factor in the Pistons decision to move forward with this deal if the team indeed retains him. But I’m a believer in potentially starting fresh if it didn’t really work out two years in a row in terms of him as a ball handler. Regardless, I’m not totally down on the move like some others may be, but it’s definitely not my favorite.
Magic Gaming: A-
Pistons GT: C
76ers GC has made it apparent all offseason long, they want to run it back. The two-time Tipoff champions want to be known as more than just that. After being so close the past two years, finishing one game away from a title last season, 76ers GC feels it had the best team and was willing to part with its two highest picks to keep the team together.
We saw what this team can be with the core three. But ZDS leaves no questions when you think about the value he brings to this team. The chemistry he and Radiant have is second to none. Bringing him back is just as beneficial to the team as it is to ZDS himself. ZDS was very vocal about his desire to remain with Philly for season three. Gen.G was aware of that and capitalized on Philly’s desire to do so.
In doing so, Gen.G was able to get both Philly’s 2020 first-round and second-round picks. The move enables Gen.G to jump up from the beginning of the second round to the late first round, while adding another second-round pick to their own.
As we saw with some teams last year, some expansion teams seemed to force picks into key positions and later regretted it as they saw what was available in the entry draft. Gen.G seemed to take note of that and maximized its opportunities to nab that talent when the time comes. The key will be nailing their picks with the expanded talent pool.
Gen.G now has their four total picks in the first two rounds (5th overall, 22nd overall, 29th overall, and 45th overall). Not a bad setup for a team to come into its first year and compete—similarly to T-Wolves Gaming in season two.
76ers GC: B+
Similar to Philly, Mavs Gaming is deciding to run it back. However, there is one big difference between the two situations. Mavs Gaming doesn’t have three finals appearances to show for this current roster.
With the announcement of this deal, it makes me wonder if the Mavs had an opportunity to grab another sharp with this pick. You often hear about the great Mo of 2K17-18 but we haven’t quite seen the same success since he made the switch to second ball-handler/sharp in playing alongside Dimez.
Mo has also been very vocal in his desire to move back to point guard, and with this move confirmed, that basically throws that idea out of the window.
The Mavs were contenders throughout the year, finishing with the second-best regular season record in the league. But their inability to win big series in any tournaments—their best finish was a semifinal appearance at the Turn—this year made one wonder if they had interest in trying something new.
Hornets Venom on the other hand, similarly to Gen.G, jumped on the opportunity to get more selections in this year’s draft.
When they initially picked Mo, it seemed that they were believers in Mo’s abilities at point guard, while all along they made the pick to further their depth. The later first-round pick projects as more of a lockdown/power forward selection for them.
Hornets Venom GT now head into the 2020 entry draft with two first-round selections.
Mavs Gaming: C
Hornets Venom GT: B
This move seemed to scratch more heads than usual. The Pacers are bringing in a player who plays lockdown defender when they already have a player to do that.
However, if you have been keeping up with the Pro-Am scene this year, you will have noticed that WoLF has been playing power forward. So it looks like this has been an intention for Pacers Gaming longer than we may have suspected.
Pacers Gaming has been consistent in their desire to roster high-character players, so it seems NateKahl will fit right into their culture. Nate, the 2018 Finals MVP, played alongside former Pacers Gaming big man oShockey for Nets GC, which clearly sought out high-character players, in Brooklyn last season.
The Pacers were among the favorites heading into last season after acquiring Ramo from Pistons GT. While this move might not garner as much fanfare, this still seems to be a solid core heading into season three. The Pacers still have the glaring void at point guard, and that figures to be addressed with the high pick they received in return for the Ramo deal. If they’re able to figure that out, this team should enter the year as favorites once again.
NetsGC moving on from NateKahl seems to be more of a decision due to lack of productivity elsewhere than from Nate, who played well in the Nets’ playoff-less first season in the league. But the Nets, similar to Pacers Gaming, need a point guard. It’s not a guarantee that this pick could provide that but it at least provides them another first-round pick, after their own 9th overall selection, to find value.
Pacers Gaming: B-
WHOA!!!!! This is the blockbuster trade that got Twitter spinning.
DatBoyShotz now heads to Sacramento, along with the 3rd overall pick and 27th overall pick, and this situation seems as good as any.
Nothing is for certain, but to acquire a talent like Shotz along with the third overall pick seems like highway robbery. Some may not understand the true value of a player like Shotz, but I’m a firm believer that he’s one of the best players in the world. If they can find themselves a franchise PG with that third pick, this Kings Guard team will be far better than they were last year, when they were swept in the quarterfinals by T-Wolves Gaming.
Simply put, Kings Guard will have a complete roster by the 27th pick in this year’s entry draft. That’s nuts!
The Kings seemed to have quite a few issues off the court that they handled as best they could. And although BP, who requested a trade from Sacramento before the start of the season, is as talented as they come, this ushers in a new culture moving forward. Arguably the biggest part of this deal is that Kings Guard now has the potential to find another talented point guard with the third overall pick.
Hawks Talon GC officially puts their point guard woes to bed. At quite a steep price, you can still understand why the Hawks would do such a thing. BP was a favorite to win Rookie of the Year coming into the league, and for him to finish as a finalist for the award (as well as MVP) just goes to show the type of talent Hawks Talon is getting.
It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the chemistry issues came from with Kings Guard last year, so Hawks Talon isn’t completely out of the dark in trying to keep it afloat off the game, but BP and Rando is quite a backcourt to have going into season three.
Kings Guard Gaming: A
Hawks Talon GC: B-
Ramo is headed home!
Some may remember Ramo’s memorable season one, in which he finished as an MVP finalist and led Pistons GT to its only playoff berth to date. It seems as if the Pistons remembered that too. Once they caught wind of Ramo’s rocky experience in Indy, they jumped on the chance to right their wrong.
Ramo comes at a steep price, especially as the Pistons had to part ways with a pick that potentially could’ve provided them, at long last, with an answer at point guard. But as the Pistons saw last year with MrStylez, that pick could easily pan out not to be what you expect it to be.
As I noted in their earlier transaction, it will be interesting to see how they choose to move forward with the point guard position. But you can find simple reasoning in why they made such a move for a player of Ramo’s ability.
Pacers Gaming, on the other hand, totally understands its need for a point guard. After their failed attempt to find one in the later rounds last year, when they waited until the third round to draft Matty, they jump up to the fourth overall pick to find their guy.
This team has always had success finding talent elsewhere, but in a point guard driven league, the Pacers are coming to terms with understanding that one is necessary to win a championship.
Losing Ramo could prove to be tough, but if they can find a franchise point guard with this pick, it will 100% be worth it.
Pistons GT: C+
Pacers Gaming: B
This deal might have had quite a few people asking, “Why?”
Not too long into the season, Cavs Legion lost their initial point guard, No. 18 pick LYKaPRO, to suspension, and were left reeling throughout the rest of the year.
This move mostly looks more along the lines of finding a security blanket than finding the actual answer to their issues. With uncertainty surrounding who will be available around the Cavs pick (No. 13) in the 2020 entry draft, finding a serviceable point guard for the cost of a second-round pick isn’t the worst possible scenario.
Doza appears to be a player capped around the middle tier for the position, but if the Cavs are able to luck out and find a higher-upside ballhandler in this year’s draft, Doza has also shown enough versatility to still make the move worth it.
For Raptors Uprising, this is just another move to add to the rebuild. Raptors Uprising has made it clear that it intends to rebuild around Kenny Got Work and Sick, the star player included in the deal between these two organizations in season two.
By adding another second-round pick to its collection, Raptors Uprising now has three picks in the first two rounds to round out their starting five.
I will say I find it extremely impressive they were able to turn what would be a fourth-round pick (the cost of retaining Doza) into a second-round pick in the upcoming entry draft.
Cavs Legion GC: C
Raptors Uprising GC: B+
Blazer5 does it again, shipping off its first-round pick for another player they hope to get them over the hump.
Last year we saw a similar deal, in which we saw Blazer5 move their 2019 first-round pick to Bucks Gaming in exchange for KinG PeroXide. The move didn’t work out and he was eventually moved to sixth man towards the latter part of the season.
But this move could be different. Majes7ic is a player who has a lot of history with the stars of Blazer5.
The good thing about Majes7ic is he is considered one of the most versatile players in the league. The bad thing is that I don’t think he necessarily specializes in one particular thing, and that could prove to be an issue down the line, specifically for this team, since they need another scoring option on the offensive end.
Majes7ic underwhelmed at the sharpshooting position this year but I usually like to give second chances when the player is moving to a potentially more suitable environment. Needless to say, it is an admirable move by Blazer5, bringing in a player that Mama and Walnut know well.
For Heat Check Gaming, the rebuild is upon us.
After making the finals in season one, Heat Check has continuously been on a downward trend. A big part of that is Heat Check’s inability to find a comprehensive primary ballhandler.
Heat Check seems to have caught wind of that issue, and is fully invested in fixing that this year, as they have the 8th overall pick and now also the 19th overall pick in this year’s entry draft. Adding even more picks to the chamber, Heat Check is looking to deploy an entirely new roster around star player Hotshot.
As I pointed out earlier, Majes7ic doesn’t necessarily specialize in anything. So if Heat Check can counter that by finding a player who can provide something more specific—like scoring or defense—this pick could far and away be well worth it.
Blazer5 Gaming: C+
Heat Check Gaming: B
Demon JT hasn’t lived up to the hype in his NBA 2K League career. After being selected in the first round (12th overall) of the inaugural entry draft, JT has consistently come up short of being a star. So much so, in fact, that Wizards DG—the team that drafted him—didn’t even bring him back during the first wave of protections after season two.
The good part: Demon JT is fully aware of this.
Pistons GT decided to give him a shot to turn it around, and what better way to do so then by pairing him with long-time amateur teammate Ramo? JT and Ramo have a long history of playing together throughout the amateur scene of Pro-Am, and that may be just the key to unlocking the JT of old.
This also seems to be a favorable move for Ramo’s playstyle, as he is one of the more ball-dominant forwards in the league. These two playing together will allow JT to slot back into the supplementary role that he seems most comfortable in, as well.
This is a point guard league, so it’s hard to imagine any type of serious success without a superstar at the position. However, the Pistons are taking the best steps to see if it’s a possibility.
For Wizards DG, it’s similar to other teams in full rebuild mode. Cut ties to the ones not producing and acquire as many picks as possible heading into the entry draft.
The Wizards are in the best position possible, currently holding the number one overall selection in the upcoming entry draft. Adding even higher picks (retaining JT cost a fourth-rounder) is just a plus at this point.
Expect this pick to be more suited for finding a defensive specialist or something of that sort, as the first pick is pretty much locked into be a point guard.
Pistons GT: C
Wizards DG: B+
Hawks Talon found its new star and is cleaning shop to build around him. A few weeks back, we reported on both Rando and Shotz’s desire to move on from Atlanta. And now here we are.
Rando gets to move back home to play for NetsGC.
It will be interesting to see what kind of player Rando can be this year. It seems he wasn’t really ever granted the opportunity to showcase his true skillset and was more depended on to pick up the slack for Hawks Talon in season one, similar to Shotz.
Rando was forced to try his hand at point guard and, outside of a couple good games, just wasn’t able to do much to turn the Hawks’ season around.
As I said earlier, he now gets to go back home, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Home, back to Brooklyn, but also home, back to sharp. A second round pick, Rando came into this league as one of the more promising sharpshooting prospects, and the Nets bring him in hoping to capture that part of his skillset to its fullest potential.
For Hawks Talon, they have a full board of picks. However, the picks aren’t the most favorable as its first selection won’t be until this, the 16th overall pick. For a team looking to find an entirely new slate of talent, you’d imagine you’d want to find yourself a little closer to the top of the order.
We will see. Hawks Talon severely underachieved in their entry draft selections last year. They have to hope this year is significantly different if they have any intentions of competing.
Hawks Talon GC: C-
Don’t look now, but Grizz Gaming officially has its own “big three.”
Grizz Gaming makes a power move in adding one of the premier centers in Goofy757.
Goofy757, a one-time champion with Knicks Gaming, seemed to be on his way out of New York for some time. He was even benched during the Ticket tournament, one of the most crucial points of the season, in which Knicks Gaming made a surprising run to the semifinals.
Now he gets to join Vandi and AuthenticAfrican to form one of the more exciting cores headed into season three. This move seems even more interesting as it suggets AuthenticAfrican will move to secondary ballhandler and assume more of a scoring role. As we all remember, AuthenticAfrican still holds the record for most points in a 2K League game—84 points against 76ers GC.
Grizz Gaming started off slowly last year, mostly due to Vandi adapting his game to the league build. However, if Vandi can get started early, and the new addition of Goofy turns out to be just as good as it looks on paper, Grizz Gaming looks to have just joined the contender category.
Knicks Gaming is one of those teams in rebuild mode. Currently holding the 2nd overall pick in this year’s expansion draft, the team adds another first-rounder to try and round out its own “big three” to get excited about.
OriginalMalik showed bright spots at certain points throughout the year and it will be interesting to see how he does playing next to a serviceable point guard.
Grizz Gaming: A-
Knicks Gaming: B+
Some may scratch their head at this move as it basically says two things:
1. The Celtics felt they could find more upside than ProFusion at the sharpshooting position.
2. They felt they could find it in someone who has more chemistry with star point guard oFab.
MOAM is a player who, similar to Majes7ic with Blazer5 Gaming, has a lot of chemistry with the players already on the Celtics Crossover roster. He’s also a player who some may feel didn’t fully have the ability to showcase his entire skillset in season two. He now joins an offense that loves to create sets to get the sharpshooter open shots.
My main takeaway, however, is that this move sort of feels like a lateral move. Upon announcing this move, the Celtics also announced they are bringing back Bully for the price of a first-round pick, and that basically rounds out their entire starting five.
For a team that didn’t win a single tournament in season two, although it did reach the semifinals, it’s a bold move to believe in the upside even more. But I think that’s exactly what these two moves are saying. Someone has to develop into a star other than oFab and this team believes in these guys to do so.
For Heat Check, it’s just another move for the rebuild. When you’re blowing up shop, the best way to move on is to do so with picks.
Heat Check now has two firsts and two seconds in this year’s entry draft. Hit on those picks to pair with superstar Hotshot and Heat Check can find itself back in the contention conversation yet again.
Celtics Crossover Gaming: C+
Heat Check Gaming: B