It’s draft season, and instead of filling the timeline with more mock drafts, I want to do something a little different.
We’re going to construct the best possible team from each round of both the season one and season two drafts, e.g. the best six-player roster you can put together from the players selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
There are a lot of ways to go about this, but here are my ground rules:
- The only qualification is players must be currently eligible to play in the league.
- Players can appear on multiple teams, e.g. Doza can make both the 2018 fifth-round team and the 2019 first-round team.
- In this hypothetical, we’re looking to put together the best roster for a full NBA 2K League season, so things like chemistry, scheme fit and versatility definitely matter.
- Just to emphasize this, fit matters. While pairing Fab and Radiant in the same backcourt is a mouth-watering proposition, both are ball-dominant guards who are best served running the offense alone and having a sharpshooter/secondary ball-handler next to them in the backcourt. This isn’t about selecting the six players from every round with the most raw talent, it’s about selecting the best team.
- I’m going to approach this from my perceived evaluation of every player today. If you had a great first season but poor second season you may be left off because I’m unsure what your future value will be.
- We’re going to be selecting these teams for season three of the NBA 2K League. Teams will have to draft players on Feb. 22 without knowing exactly what the league build meta will be, and we’ll have to do the same. Players who I know can adjust to any meta will have an advantage, and I’ll explain whenever that goes into my decision making.
- That said, there’s plenty of room for interpretation with how I’ll set lineups. For the most part it will look something like below, with any exceptions noted:
- Primary ball-handler point guard
- Sharpshooter/secondary ball-handler
- Lockdown defender/scoring small forward/sharpshooter
- Stretch-4/post scorer
But enough lame rules, let’s get to it.
2018 First Round
Point guard: Radiant (76ers GC, 14th overall)
Shooting guard: ARooks (Bucks Gaming, 10th overall)
Small forward: Wolf 74 (Pacers Gaming, 13th overall)
Power forward: Lets Get It Ramo (Pistons GT, 5th overall)
Center: OneWildWalnut (Blazer5 Gaming, 6th overall)
Sixth player: Hotshot (Heat Check Gaming, 7th overall)
Other notables: Dimez (Mavs Gaming, 1st overall), oFab (Celtics Crossover Gaming, 2nd overall), Goofy757 (Knicks Gaming, 9th overall), Kenny (Raptors Uprising GC, 11th overall)
Say what you will about the first NBA 2K League draft class, the top end of it was stacked. We have an embarrassment of riches to select from, and for the most part this comes down to personal preference; you could ask 10 people for their lineup from this round and you could get 10 different answers, each just as strong as the others.
To start, we have a tough decision at point guard. Radiant and Fab are your two frontrunners here, with Dimez also a solid option. Here, I’m personally going with Radiant, who has a few more accomplishments in the league under his belt so far and outdueled Fab in a best-of-three playoffs semifinals series in season two, giving him the slight edge.
As I said before, fit matters, so while it’s painful to have to leave one of the best players in the world in Fab off of this list, we want a proven secondary ball-handler paired up with Radiant. Few were better than ARooks in season two, who easily could’ve been an MVP finalist, and finished fifth in scoring for the 2019 season with 19.9 points per game. He gives this squad a different look if Radiant’s pick and roll game runs into any trouble.
Every good team needs a defensive specialist, and not many are better than Wolf, who slots in at small forward to play as a lockdown defender and clamp up opposing point guards game in and game out. With the possibility of there being no lockdown defender archetypes in season three, though, some may want to take the risk of leaving a lock off the roster and going with something else.
2018 MVP finalist Ramo slots in at power forward over the only two other considerations at the position, Goofy and Mootyy, who both interestingly enough are primarily centers now. Ramo’s prowess as a big man has helped two teams make the playoffs, and his versatility as both a center and power forward helps a bit too. The hope is definitely that post scorers are big in the 2K20 meta here, but Ramo being Ramo, we’re confident we’ll be okay in the power forward department no matter the case.
Center is another pick’em. We’re going with Walnut here due to his contributions to one of the league powerhouses as well as MVP and DPOY awards to his name. If mashing returns to the season three league build, we’ll be in good hands, though a second straight glass cleaner meta would be okay as well considering Walnut’s play in 2019. That said, there are other options here if you wish, including Goofy and Hotshot, but a Radiant-Walnut pick and roll game is too enticing to resist.
For now though, we’re sticking Hotshot on the bench, as weird as that is to type out. Besides his usual excellent play at the center position, Hotshot gives us some potent versatility off the bench as someone who has played at the highest level at three different positions/archetypes. Needless to say with this team, we can give opposing coaches game-planning nightmares with the number of different looks we can throw out there.
2018 Second Round
Point guard: Mama Im Dat Man (Blazer5 Gaming, 29th overall)
Shooting guard: BSmoove (Warriors Gaming Squad, 18th overall)
Small forward: NateKahl (Knicks Gaming, 26th overall)
Power forward: Dayfri (Mavs Gaming, 34th overall)
Center: AuthenticAfrican (Grizz Gaming, 20th overall)
Sixth player: Majes7ic (Heat Check Gaming, 28th overall)
Other notables: Sick (Cavs Legion GC, 19th overall), Swizurk (Pacers Gaming, 22nd overall), Newdini (76ers GC, 21st overall), oLarry (Bucks Gaming, 25th overall), Arsonal (Celtics Crossover Gaming, 33rd overall)
While not quite as much firepower as round one of this draft, the second round has plenty to offer. It all starts with centerpiece Mama, the 2019 MVP and clear-cut best choice to handle the ball for this team.
From there it gets trickier. We could deploy a two-sharpshooter lineup with BSmoove and Swizurk, but probably prefer to have at least one true lockdown defender on the roster which is why 2018 Finals MVP NateKahl gets slotted in here. BSmoove, 2nd Team All-NBA 2K League this season, gets the nod over deadeye sharpshooter Swizurk due to his more dynamic game and ability to run an offense as a secondary ball-handler.
The frontcourt is where the real tough decisions come, and it’s one of many examples of where opinions are going to vary with this exercise. With Dayfri and AuthenticAfrican though, we get two players who aren’t just incredible big men, but offer a lot of versatility as well. Dayfri, who put in some time at the 4 this season for Wizards District Gaming, shifts over to power forward to make way for AuthenticAfrican, he of the single-game scoring record.
Off the bench we have one of the most versatile players in the league in Majes7ic. If we need a different look in our frontcourt or need some sort of ball-handler, Majes7ic has us covered.
Just missing the cut are Sick and oLarry, though many would be justified in including them in their lineup.
2018 Third Round
Point guard: Timelycook (Kings Guard Gaming, 38th overall)
Shooting guard: ReeseDaGod23 (Wizards District Gaming, 46th overall)
Small forward: Godddof2k (Cavs Legion GC, 50th overall)
Power forward: Dat Boy Shotz (Blazer5 Gaming, 40th overall)
Center: Feast (76ers GC, 48th overall)
Sixth player: Mel East (Celtics Crossover Gaming, 41st overall)
Other notables: Deedz (Jazz Gaming, 37th overall), Vert (Warriors Gaming Squad, 51st overall), Yusuf Scarbz (Raptors Uprising GC, 45th overall)
We have to get a bit creative here with the backcourt because there’s no clear-cut point guard option in this round. The recently reinstated Timelycook is the only player of this bunch who has given productive NBA 2K League minutes at the point guard position, so we’re slotting him at the 1 here. His pairing with ReeseDaGod actually makes for a potentially formidable backcourt if Reese keeps his late-season form from 2019.
We’re going to hope post scorers are part of the 2K20 meta and run some early-season Hawks Talon GC action by feeding Shotz in the post. Either way, the offense will probably have to run through him, and a mashing power forward is certainly an option as well.
At the very least, we can count on some very, very good defense with this unit. Season two defensive player of the year Godddof2k anchors us on that end as a lockdown defender, and pick and roll defender/menace Feast helps complete a formidable duo. Don’t forget too that Shotz led the league in steals there for a bit when he was on the post scorer this past season.
Mel East gives us another versatile player and someone who could easily give us a mental advantage if he’s screaming at the opposing team from the stands. If we want to commit to a full-on defensive identity, it’s conceivable we could run a double-lock lineup with him in place of Reese.
2018 Fourth Round
Point guard: BallLikeSeem (Mavs Gaming, 68th overall)
Shooting guard: ProFusion (Celtics Crossover Gaming, 67th overall)
Small forward: LavishPhenom (Blazer5 Gaming, 63rd overall)
Power forward: All Hail Trey (Raptors Uprising GC, 58th overall)
Center: Steez (76ers GC, 55th overall)
Sixth player: Type (Warriors Gaming Squad, 52nd overall)
Other notables: Toxsik (Cavs Legion GC, 53rd overall), Jin (Wizards District Gaming, 57th overall), Rux (Pistons GT, 64th overall)
Here’s where we have to get a little creative. The only true point guard selected in this round that played in season two was former Knicks Gaming champion iamadamthe1st, who has since retired from the league. The other option is vGooner, who probably wasn’t given the best opportunity to show what he can do back in season one, but I still think we can find something better.
BallLikeSeem has proven to be the type of guard that any team could use on their roster, and one of the true secondary ball-handlers in the league in that he can really run an offense. If he can do that, then we’re in business, with a strong frontcourt support system in standouts All Hail Trey and Steez, the former an underrated shooter and defender and the latter a smart defensive stalwart. All Hail Trey beats out two other very solid power forwards in Rux and Jin.
For a sixth, we have Type, who can give us a monstrous defensive presence. If we wish, we could find a spot for Type in this lineup at center by moving Steez to the wing, where he qualified for the league in the season one combine.
2018 Fifth Round
Point guard: Doza (Pistons GT, 73rd overall)
Shooting guard: King Peroxide (Bucks Gaming, 78th overall)
Small forward: Turnupdefense (Cavs Legion GC, 84th overall)
Power forward: Idrisdagoat6 (Knicks Gaming, 77th overall)
Center: Great Gilly (Wizards District Gaming, 80th overall)
Sixth player: Grant Monster (Blazer5 Gaming, 74th overall)
Other notables: TsJosh (Raptors Uprising GC, 79th overall), LykaPro (Warriors Gaming Squad, 85th overall)
Things get harder here as this round features nine players who did not return to the league in season two, the most of any round in this draft.
Even so, we manage to snag not one, but two NBA 2K League champs in Turnupdefense and IdrisdaGoat6, the latter getting time in at power forward during Knicks Gaming’s season one championship run, giving us at least a foundation for a steady pick and roll defense. Wizards veteran Great Gilly fills out the frontcourt to give us a solid presence down low, or even as a stretch-5.
The backcourt will have to do the bulk of the scoring here though, and there are questions on that front. Doza had a somewhat shaky season with Raptors Uprising this past season and King Peroxide, traded for a first-round pick in the offseason, found himself on the Blazer5 Gaming bench in favor of Jomar come playoffs time. I think these two are hungry to prove something in season three, so that motivation gives us a decent offensive ceiling if both can live up to the first-round values each were given in 2019.
On the bench we have the versatile Grant Monster, who was a deadeye in season one then returned as a center in season two.
2018 Sixth Round
Point guard: SavageDoWerk (Cavs Legion GC, 87th overall)
Shooting guard: ZDS (76ers GC, 89th overall)
Small forward: HazzaUK (Mavs Gaming, 102nd overall)
Power forward: Big Meek (Bucks Gaming, 93rd overall)
Center: KingCamRoyalty (Magic Gaming, 95th overall)
Sixth player: KingQuai614 (Raptors Uprising GC, 92nd overall)
Other notables: DDouble (Grizz Gaming, 88th overall), Jomar12 PR (Blazer5 Gaming, 97th overall), JosephTheTruth (Pistons GT, 98th overall)
For the last round of a draft…not too bad!
While eight players from this round didn’t make it back to the league for a second season, we still have a solid squad here. Two deadly sharpshooters in ZDS and Big Meek make us a threat to go off any game, and European import Hazza more than proved he could hang across the pond with a stellar 2019 season as a lockdown defender with the Knicks.
Cavs Legion point guard Savage gets the call here as our primary ball-handler, getting plenty of minutes with Cleveland at the 1 in two seasons with the team, even winning last season’s spot over first-round pick LykaPro. While not a flashy point guard, he can very well get the job done for us.
Center is a matter of preference. Here we’re going with KingCamRoyalty, one of just three sixth-rounders protected from the season one expansion draft (Big Meek, JosephTheTruth). His rebounding is what we need to give our shooters more opportunities to launch from deep, though a great case could still be made for 6th player KingQuai614 to man the 5 as well.
2019 First Round
Point guard: BearDaBeast (T-Wolves Gaming, 11th overall)
Shooting guard: Reizey (Magic Gaming, 9th overall)
Small forward: Gradient (Warriors Gaming Squad, 2nd overall)
Power forward: BreadwinnerLA (76ers GC, 19th overall)
Center: Plondo (Bucks Gaming, 6th overall)
Sixth player: PeteBeBallin (Mavs Gaming, 5th overall)
Other notables: Ria (Jazz Gaming, 1st overall), BP (Kings Guard Gaming, 3rd overall), Vandi (Grizz Gaming, 7th overall), CB13 (Warriors Gaming Squad, 10th overall), Lotty (Heat Check Gaming, 20th overall), Original Malik (Knicks Gaming, 21st overall)
Another stacked first round with a lot of hard decisions. While it’s tough not allowing Rookie of the Year Reizy to run our offense, it’s hard to argue against giving BearDaBeast the keys after his incredible championship run. Had the T-Wolves march to a title fizzled out early, Reizy would get the call here. On the plus side, we can still move Reizy to shooting guard as a deadly secondary ball-handler, where he’s more than comfortable playing, giving us one of the most potent backcourts in this exercise. Other top-10 picks BP, Vandi and CB13 are definitely options here.
On the defensive side, we’re really cooking. Defensive Player of the Year candidate Gradient handles our perimeter D while First Team All-Defense and First Team All-Rookie honoree BreadwinnerLA anchors us inside for what could very well be the best pick and roll defense out of all of these teams.
That’s not even including Plondo, whose high defensive IQ and general do-it-all playstyle gives him the edge over fellow First Team All-Rookie pick PeteBeBallin here, though no one would fault you for running with Pete either. First overall pick Ria had a good, if under-the-radar, season with the Jazz, but Pete and Plondo are the clear picks.
2019 Second Round
Point guard: Rando (Hawks Talon GC, 30th overall)
Shooting guard: BallLikeSeem (Kings Guard Gaming, 22nd overall)
Small forward: Turnupdefense (T-Wolves Gaming, 32nd overall)
Power forward: DT (Magic Gaming, 29th overall)
Center: NOxAUTOGRAPHS (Celtics Crossover Gaming, 28th overall)
Sixth player: Sherm (Mavs Gaming, 25th overall)
Other notables: Shuttles (NetsGC, 31st overall), Kev (Lakers Gaming, 33rd overall), Daveed (Blazer5 Gaming, 36th overall)
Comparatively, the 2019 second round isn’t nearly as strong as the 2018 second round, but we still have plenty to work with here.
With every top point guard off the board much earlier in the draft, we let Rando run the offense and tell him to get some point guard reps in during the offseason. Not that he’s totally inexperienced: the natural sharpshooter got plenty of action at the 1 during Hawks Talon GC’s inaugural season, but it takes more than just a few games to excel at point guard in this league.
Wing players BallLikeSeem (2018 fourth round) and Turnupdefense (2018 fifth round) both make their second team of the exercise, and their aforementioned strengths as a secondary ball-handler and lockdown defender, respectively, give them the call once again here.
Our frontcourt is more than formidable with DT and NOxAUTOGRAPHS. DT’s debut season at power forward was a bit under the radar as he excelled both on offense and defense, garnering him a few First Team All-Rookie team votes. NOxAUTOGRAPHS was quite the steal for the Celtics in the second round, a complementary pick and roll piece to offensive maestro oFab and a strong presence on the boards for our squad.
Off the bench we have Sherm, who had a great first season with Mavs Gaming as a lockdown defender, and would’ve cracked the starting lineup if not for the calming veteran presence and championship pedigree of Turnupdefense.
2019 Third Round
Point guard: JMoney (Heat Check Gaming, 52nd overall)
Shooting guard: ReeseDaGod (Wizards District Gaming, 54th overall)
Small forward: Toxsik (Grizz Gaming, 42nd overall)
Power forward: Jin (Warriors Gaming Squad, 38th overall)
Center: JoJo (T-Wolves Gaming, 45th overall)
Sixth player: Strainer (Cavs Legion GC, 51st overall)
Other notables: Gliz (Jazz Gaming, 39th overall), Lav (NetsGC, 46th overall), KingQuai614 (Raptors Uprising GC, 49th overall), Jaacko (Pistons GT, 50th overall), Yusuf Scarbz (Kings Guard Gaming, 53rd overall)
This is a surprisingly tough round to figure out, and there are a lot of different ways you can go about things here.
JMoney showed some flashes as a point guard in Miami before being traded to T-Wolves Gaming, so he gets the call here. It’s hard to turn down a champion. The other viable option here is Lav, who split some time as a ball-handler in Brooklyn in season two.
Reese makes his return to another team as our sharp, and Toxsik rounds out our starting wing setup as our lockdown defender.
Power forward is one of the positions that makes this round tricky. There are several good options here with Jin, Gliz and Yusuf Scarbz, and an argument could be made for any one of them. Gliz proved to be a rare scoring threat from the 4 and Yusuf put together a season good enough to get him retained. But Jin was also retained, and was a valuable player on a team that accomplished more than Yusuf’s, giving him the slight edge here.
At center we’re pairing up JMoney’s teammate JoJo, who proved his worth with a good if overlooked (until the very end) season. Strainer rounds out the team with his versatility as either a sharp or a primary ball-handler coming off the bench.
2019 Fourth Round
Point guard: SavageDoWerk (Cavs Legion GC, 72nd overall)
Shooting guard: Man in a Car (Pacers Gaming, 58th overall)
Small forward: HazzaUK (Knicks Gaming, 75th overall)
Power forward: Kev Dont Miss (Jazz Gaming, 57th overall)
Center: Great Gilly (Wizards District Gaming, 68th overall)
Sixth player: TsJosh (Raptors Uprising GC, 69th overall)
Other notables: Zaky (Kings Guard Gaming, 55th overall), DDouble (61st overall, Grizz Gaming), Jomar12_PR (Blazer5 Gaming, 71st overall)
Come on down Savage, Hazza and Gilly, who all make both of the final-round teams from each draft.
The other two spots in our lineup are filled out with newcomers, the first being Man in a Car at sharp after a solid season when he played with playoff squad Pacers Gaming, and the second being Kev Dont Miss at power forward, who showed that he has the versatility to stick around in the league.
We go with more versatility with our sixth player TsJosh, a two-season vet on Raptors Uprising GC who has played a number of positions during his stint with Toronto.
Where do each of these teams rank? Which round had the most talent? What would your teams be? Let us know on Twitter @DIMER2K!