Note: Jim Hill is the father of Magic Gaming point guard Reizey
As they like to say in the 2K community, there are levels to this. It is my belief that no team is out of contention for the league championship, much less the playoffs when a single game has yet to be played.
If we learned anything from the first two seasons you may be down, but you are never out. In season one Knicks Gaming was having dirt put on its grave until the combination of a game patch and the Ticket happened. In season two T-Wolves Gaming was dead in the water until a midseason trade and some lineup adjustments occurred.
For this reason, I am putting every team in contention for the playoffs. The only question is what level of contention each team is positioned. To keep things simple, I placed each team in one of three levels.
Let me start with this disclaimer: every team has talent. I based a team’s position on a few variables. For instance, more credit was given to teams who had success last year and brought back most of their roster. If you had a lot of roster turnover you will probably not be at the top level.
Likewise, if you drafted multiple rookies I probably don’t have you at the top level either. You may have one of the best drafts in my opinion but there is still a lot to prove with new players and the transition to the league build. On the flip side, if you are at the bottom level it is not an indictment on your level of talent. It simply means there are some questions on the team that need to be answered. Levels can change quickly once the games start.
Also, be aware that I have the first group in order starting with the best. The two groups that follow are in no particular order. With that said, here we go.
I don’t always agree that the defending champs should automatically assume the role of the team to beat. However, in this case, when you are bringing back four of five starters and you draft of the best locks in the pool in BigSaint, then you are the team to beat until proven otherwise.
T-Wolves Gaming has a great leader in BearDaBeast and quite possibly the best power forward in the league in Feast. Filling out the lineup are a game-changing sharpshooter in JMoney and the king of poppers in JoJo. The final piece is a nice addition to the team in Detoxys as a sixth player, a two-year league veteran who had a nice offseason in Pro-Am.
Like the T-Wolves, 76ers GC is bringing back four starters from a finals team. It added a very nice lockdown defender in Userpick to complete the starting lineup. The best backcourt duo in the league is back in Radiant and Scretty to go along with Breadwinner (First Team All-Defense) at power forward and the wily veteran at center in Steez. It also picked up the consummate sixth player in TuckerLocksUp.
Warriors Gaming Squad
Another team that only had to replace one starter after being the most successful tournament team in season two. Warriors Gaming Squad drafted arguably the top center in the pool in MrSlaughter.
The team also brings back a winning point guard in Kina and his backcourt mate Bsmoove, who might be the best shooting guard in the game. Gradient and Jin return as starters in the frontcourt. It added season two veteran Matty to fill out the roster. There is no reason to believe this team won’t succeed for a second year in a row.
No team has a better regular-season record over the first two seasons than Blazer5 Gaming. However, postseason and tournament (for the most part) success have been elusive.
The good news is it returns two MVPs in Mama Im Dat Man and OneWildWalnut along with LavishPhenom, who can play lock or power forward. It picked up Majes7ic, who brings an additional veteran presence and can play multiple positions, in an offseason trade. It drafted Hood, a talented player but with questions about how he will fit in as this is his fourth team in three seasons, though he does have a strong relationship with the current players. Filling out the roster is another veteran in OOC Slim.
Having a head coach, Sceeezus, for the first time this year will allow Mama and Walnut to just play the game instead of shouldering that load as well.
Celtic Crossover Gaming
Anytime you have oFab on your team, you will be in contention. Celtics Crossover Gaming returns four starters and has Fab’s fingerprints all over it. NOxAUTOGRAPHS returns to center after a stellar rookie season alongside veteran MelEast and last year’s first-round draft pick in Bulleyy.
It will be difficult to replace the highly productive Profusion, but Boston traded for MOAM, who is Fab’s longtime friend and Pro-Am teammate. Filling out the roster is the highly regarded Tooxcool. Fab has his guys in place. Some have even referred to this team as Slightwork Gaming. I get the feeling that this year it’s championship or bust for this team.
Kings Guard Gaming
Some will question this one with the loss of BP. However, this team returns highly regarded veterans in BallLikeSeem at shooting guard and Yusuf Scarbz in the frontcourt. It brought in a top-20 league player in DatBoyShotz as part of the BP trade. Then it drafted Crush, who shot up draft boards last month, third overall to play lock, and Bash at 17 to play point guard.
I am very high on Bash, he was great value at 17 and has been balling out in Pro-Am while playing on West Coast delay. He will also have Seem beside him to shoulder the scoring load. It closed out the draft with Nasthetic who is a nice safety valve at point guard if needed.
This team has one of the more underrated coaches in DJ Layton. Personally, he was my vote for Coach of the Year in season two with all due respect to my good friend Jeff Terrell.
I am in a no-win situation regardless of where I place this team. However, it missed the playoffs by one game last season and returns season two Rookie of the Year Reizy and rookie sensation DT to go along with the veteran leadership of Toxic. This team led the league in defensive points allowed and added May, a top defensive center, in an offseason trade.
The problem for this team last year was scoring from the wing. Its sharps combined to shoot 34% from the three, second-worst in the league. To fix that, the Magic drafted Profusion, who shot 54% from the three last year. The team was undefeated last year in games they shot over 45% from the three. If Profusion can come close to matching last season, this will be a team to be reckoned with.
It added nice value with Djbama who is a longtime successful Pro-Am player and has played in the past with both Reizy and May. It appears that Head Coach Jonah Edwards finally has the team he has been trying to build.
Yes, Bucks Gaming has a rookie point guard in Regg, but he has the luxury of playing next to the scoring machine known as ARooks. This will allow Regg to find his footing on the league build, plus he has a very high ceiling. Not to mention he has one of the best centers in the game in Plondo.
The team may start two rookies but also added a league champion in Squidris. Filling out the roster is TDJ who will likely play power forward and veteran ChaChing on the bench. I had to put the Bucks here for two reasons: they knocked on the playoff door last year without any point guard production, and ARooks and Plondo are just that good.
Next Level Contenders
I may get pushback here. I was very close to having them in the first group. My only concern is the number of close games this team won last year. Can they replicate that? I also really liked Rux and losing him is big for me. Mavs Gaming did pick up Sleetys, who goes way back with Dimez, and will fit in well with this team.
With Dimez, Mo, Sherm and Pete all returning I look for them to be right in the thick of the playoff race. I don’t know much about Spartan but I have to believe this guy is going to really grind based on his reaction to getting drafted. Credit to LT for a complete rebuild last year. Can they build off that momentum?
Grizz Gaming was the first team outside the playoffs last year and it brings back four starters. Vandi returns to point guard after a great rookie season that garnered some Rookie of the Year talk. Two-year veteran AuthenticAfrican returns as the heart and soul of this team. Also returning are DDouble, who brings personality to spare, and sharp/power forward Jrod.
The addition of Goofy through a trade might well be what puts this team over the top. Time will tell how well all of the pieces fit together. Don’t want to leave out Lav, who the Grizz picked up in the fourth round. He is versatile and can provide a scoring punch if needed.
Heat Check Gaming
Heat Check Gaming is only returning one starter or it could be higher. Having Hotshot on your team alone puts you in contention. It had a very nice draft picking up point guard Glennratty7768 and a top lock in Shiftay in the first round, followed by Delusion in the second and league veteran King Peroxide in the fourth. Filling out the roster is a very good veteran in Deedz.
This team has tons of pure talent. The main concern (which is a good one to have) is that they have two high-scoring, ball-dominant guards teamed up with Hotshot who loves to score as well. Are there enough basketballs to go around? I trust that Famous can find a way to make it work. Like I said, too much scoring is a good problem to have. It’s just a matter of getting all players to buy in. This will be a fun team to watch.
Wizards District Gaming
It’s nice to start your team with one of the top players in the league in Dayfri and a high-scoring sharp in ReeseDaGod. Then you add in the number one pick of JBM and this team automatically becomes a contender.
I think JBM complements this team nicely and he may very well have the smoothest transition to the league build. The team also added Just Awkward, who has steadily improved each year in Pro-Am, and Newdini, who comes with a winning pedigree. BRICH was a nice addition to close out the draft because he can play ball-handler and off-ball.
Hornets Venom GT
Hornets Venom GT had a very nice starting piece in Type and a plethora of picks. I like the way it drafted in going with a lot of high-character and high-IQ guys. ExposeHim is one of the guys I expect to transition well. He has the right demeanour for it and can still play if some people forgot. Snubby was an absolute homerun pick and a great back court mate for Expose. These guys are rookies but they are very mature and that makes a world of difference.
The team also added Zae in the first round. Just another good fit. These guys will be easy to coach. Rounding out the draft was Gliz, who is a season two veteran. Once the rookies adjust to the league build they could make some noise.
Knicks Gaming might have had the best draft of the night. However, with lots of youth on the team, it may take a few games to get into the mix. With Original Malik and Hazza returning, the Knicks off the draft by picking up Duck as point guard to pair with Malik. This could be a high-scoring backcourt.
The team found its center in CantGuardRob, who already has chemistry with Duck. BigRim was a great value in the second round as he can play lock or power forward at a high level. It filled out the roster by drafting NIKO (formerly know as Truth), another Pro-Am teammate of Duck and Rob. This team is loaded with talent and chemistry. The only question is how long of an adjustment to the league meta will it take for them to right this ship?
Raptors Uprising GC
This team was right on the cusp of the playoff race last year, and I can’t help but feel that it upgraded. Starting with Kenny and Sick x 973 is a heck of a combination, and the Raptors added a league OG in Timelycook who fits right in with Kenny. Raptors Uprising also added another familiar face in Reece, who brings automatic chemistry after playing with Kenny in the offseason. Adding in Wuan, who is Sick’s Pro-Am teammate, only further solidifies this group.
Filling out the roster is Legit 973, who is the younger brother of Sick. I have no doubt that this team will play well together and potentially find itself on the cusp of the playoffs again. Time will tell if the Raptors can break through.
I put the Lakers here because they are my sleeper pick to be in contention to reach the playoffs. It started by bringing in head coach Kris Dellarciprete and then they followed it up, in my opinion, with a good draft. Getting SAV at seventh overall is huge because he is a top-shelf point guard. He’s another player who comes from the West Coast so I expect him to transition to the league well. This really helps Kev, who had an off year, and with SAV in the mix as his point guard, expect to see something closer to 2019 Pro-Am Kev this year. I think it also helps Mootyy to have a potentially elite point guard.
Sometimes one player can help bring all the other pieces together and I think this may be the case here. Let’s not forget that the Lakers have a solid veteran in Vert and also added essentially another coach on the court in Tactuk, who coached Bucks Gaming last season. Filling out the roster is the nice addition of Dweq. This won’t be the Lakers of last year, but the question, as always, is can they make this big of a leap?
Cavs Legion GC
I almost had this team in the second tier because they were so close to the playoffs last year. They already had a set starting five before the draft and they have some really good players. Godddof2K and oLarry are a tough combination to deal with in pick-and-roll defense. Strainer returns to the team as shooting guard, looking to return to form after a very hot start last year before leveling off in the back half. AllHailTrey is exceptional at power forward.
The main question for me is Doza, now on his third team in three years. The ability, as glimpsed at points over the last two years, is there if he can just find his groove with this team. The Cavs can find success if he plays well and if Strainer gets back to the way he started last season. The Cavs also added JoshJay to fill out the roster, a player who knows the longer-tenured Cavs well and seems to be a good fit.
Having Ramo makes you some sort of contender, period. In fact, if you asked me to bet against them, I would say “hell no” because Ramo has never missed the playoffs through two interesting seasons in the league.
I just have no idea who is going to play where on this roster. I won’t try, partially as a favor to Pistons General Manager Adam Rubin, because I saw him say he wishes everyone would quit guessing who goes where on rosters. Personally, I would love to see old Demon JT and old DevGoss return, which would subtly make this team one to keep an eye on. Charger was a great pick in the first round, Joseph the Truth returns to Detroit for a third season to bring some solidity and LykaPro was a nice pick up as insurance at point guard.
There is a lot of potential with this team, though once again, I don’t know where all the pieces go just yet. Obviously, having Compete, Ria and Lotty is a nice foundation to build on. I do like the pick of Splashy to run point guard, and if he finds his way in the league quickly, the Jazz can compete. GetonmyLevel41 is a nice addition as well, but he seems to be a second shooting guard in addition to Lotty. I will assume for now that one of the two moves to power foward, though another possibility is Ria sliding to the 4 since the Jazz did draft former Pacer Lord Beezus in the fourth round.
This is a talented team, and it’s just a matter of finding the right combination.
There’s no doubt that this team will be able to get some stops. My main concern comes down to scoring, since the Pacers have so many defensive-minded players and only one returning scorer in Swizurk.
Their obvious need was a point guard and they drafted BOHIO- with the fourth pick in the first round. He has been solid in retail and he seems like Cody’s type of player. In the second round, Pacers Gaming added NBA 2K MyTeam champion Jomar-12PR, who suited up for Blazer5 Gaming for the past two years. I assume that he and Wolf will play power forward and center but it’s hard to say, especially after Wolf’s past two years in the league at lock. The Pacers then added Bobby Buckets with their last draft pick and he can play power forward as well. If this team can find some additional scoring they can contend.
This has to be one of the more interesting teams to watch this year, with no shortage of personalities up and down the roster. How that all works out remains to be seen.
I am happy to see Choc finally make it to the league, and all signs point to him taking the reins at point guard. I have to assume that Rando will be his backcourt duo after the Nets acquired him from the Hawks over the offseason. Both of these guys love to have the ball in their hands. Randomz was a great pick at 29 and solidifies the lock position. Shuttles is a very dependable center who finds himself paired with his old Pro-Am teammate Choc. Add in their friend Potts and you have a group with the potential to contend. It’s still tricky to figure out who goes where, especially 2019 first-round pick Wavy, but we’ll leave that up to coach OGKINGCURT. If anyone can make all these personalities work together it is him.
Hawks Talon GC
You have to believe this team goes as BP goes. He is a super-talented, ball-dominant guard, and with that in mind the Hawks surrounded him with familiar people. Everyone knew Kel, the former Magic and Grizz sharpshooter, was getting picked to play alongside BP. Hawks Talon also picked up Lee in the first round, which surprised some people, but the Hawks clearly must have felt that Lee was their guy.
FollowTHEGOD was a very solid third-round pick to play lock. Of course, Stylez is the only holdover from last season, the Hawks’ first in the 2K League, and he is both versatile and dependable. Filling out the roster is a hometown talent in Arkele, who will be a good teammate and can push for a starting spot. I think the Hawks could contend if BP has an MVP caliber year.
Gen. G Tigers of Shanghai
Being last on the list doesn’t mean that Gen.G is the worst. In fact, there is a lot of talent on this team, especially when it comes to scoring a ton of points. However, there are some questions as well. Let’s start with the known: a title-winning defensive star in Turnupdefense who can also hit big corner shots when needed.
From there, the questions emerge. ShiftyKaii was the fifth pick and is very talented. But according to Jacob Wolf of ESPN, Kaii didn’t want to land on Gen.G, which is immediately concerning. Maybe that will change, and maybe it already has. He will be paired in the backcourt with X I Kno Killey, which could make for a high-powered duo. Gen.G also added Deadye to play center, who after a long Pro-Am career should adjust well to the league. Gen was picked in the second round after excelling as a sharpshooter in pre-draft, but with the X I Kno Killey/ShiftyKaii backcourt it appears Gen will have to move to power forward. The success of that transition is anyone’s guess, although shooting shouldn’t be an issue. With Gen.G’s final pick it selected Luck_Yi_Wesley, a Chinese player who qualified through APAC. By all accounts, a very capable player, the biggest question for Luck_Yi_Wesley is when he can make it to the United States.
If Gen.G can get everyone bought in, their potential to be a contender is very high.