Warriors Gaming Squad has two tournament banners under its belt, but is still chasing the big one. With everything on the line Friday night against Wizards District Gaming, the Warriors can win their first-ever NBA 2K League Championship.
Let’s break down a little bit of what makes each player in the Golden State starting line up special.
Point guard: CB13
Regular season: 31.4 points per game, 8.4 assists per game, 47.0 3-point percentage
Playoffs: 34.2 PPG, 8.0 APG, 45.7 3P%
While the Warriors’ lead guard may not get the headlines and spotlight usually reserved for his peers, CB13 will be center stage in his first trip to the Finals. Like his team, he just keeps things moving and is a model of consistency.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “CB13 – Floor General”
CB13 is always thinking a few steps ahead, and as a fan, it’s fun to watch him in the moment knowing we’re about to see things unfold that his mind has already processed. With Bucks Gaming’s Ty overplaying the screen, CB13 still gets where he wants to go by going under the pick and then retreating to the top of the arc. This forces all five Bucks defenders to be on guard without there being a strong or weak side to cheat off. With a little help from Slaughter’s slip to the basket, CB13 probes the mid-range to see if the Bucks will shrink their coverage. Once an opening presents itself, the Warriors point guard throws a dart to Jin for a wide-open look.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “CB13 – Aggressive 1”
Golden State is at its best when CB13 is aggressive. While the guard isn’t known for his 3-point volume, he’s still able to keep the defense on its heels when he attacks the basket relentlessly. Here he gets a quick bucket just eight seconds into the shot clock.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “CB13 – Patience “
Be quick, but don’t hurry. CB13 embodies this popular basketball saying. Check out the patience he displays in this clip. The amount of manipulating he does of the defense in this simple two-man set with Slaughter is great, but once he determines the Jazz Gaming defenders are staying home, he resets and hunts for the three knowing Splashy won’t leave the hash and Ria has to respect Slaughter.
Lockdown defender: Gradient
Regular Season: 9.7 PPG, 2.2 steals per game, 57.5 3P%
Playoffs: 14.6 PPG, 2.6 SPG, 69.2 3P%
One thing all the top teams have in common is that they have an intimidating lock in the lineup to throw at all the explosive point guards in the league. And perhaps none have had a set of assignments in the playoffs more daunting than Gradient, who had to check Regg and Splashy in back-to-back weeks.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Gradient – Steal”
Check out how cool Gradient plays this side pick and roll from Splashy and Ria. He doesn’t flinch at all and knows exactly when to move to avoid as many bump animations as possible. He’s also required to put all the trust in the world in his center Slaughter, but that’s easier said than done with everything on the line. Even when he takes the ball away, Gradient still needs to save it from going out of bounds all while finding the outlet pass for the easy two points.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Gradient – Disciplined “
It’s common for locks to get caught jumping at a point guard in the paint, especially when it’s the likes of someone as talented as Splashy. But we absolutely love how disciplined Gradient is here, refusing to bite and get caught in the air. With the Warriors up three, the former No. 2 pick knows his team can’t afford to give up an and-1 foul.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Gradient – Defensive IQ”
And of course, Gradient’s off-ball defense is just as important as what he provides on the ball. In this clip, the Bucks kick off the series by running their offense away from Regg. As a result, Gradient is also taken away from the play. But watch how Gradient immediately darts over to the right corner as soon as he sees the ball hit rim knowing that he needs to take away the easy dot to Squidris. All of this is done even before Plondo is able to come down with the rebound.
Regular Season: 13.7 PPG, 2.2 APG, 57.3 3P%
Playoffs: 6 PPG, 2.4 APG, 60.0 3P%
As a sharp in the NBA 2K League, a surefire bet to differentiate yourself from your peers is to avoid being a cone at the hash. Even if the team’s system calls for a more stationary shooter, it doesn’t mean that a player can’t add layers to his game when the ball is in their hands.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Bsmoove – Playmaking”
With the shot clock running down, the Warriors do a great job of finding an open Bsmoove out at the wing. Realizing Lotty will come out running to contest him, the Warrior’s sharp gives up a good shot to get an even better one when he makes the extra pass to Gradient in the corner. It can be easy to let it fly, especially considering Bsmoove hadn’t seen that many shots (though he had made nearly all of his attempts) up to that point.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Bsmoove – Off Ball Movement”
Bsmoove’s off-ball movement—whether by design or due to improvisation—is a key aspect to the Warriors’ offense, especially when CB13 isn’t able to get what he wants early in the shot clock. Bsmoove’s simple wrap confuses the Jazz’s perimeter defense and generates an open look for his point guard.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Bsmoove – Offensive Creativity “
Realizing the offense has hit a snag, Bsmoove wraps around his center and receives the pass. Instead of driving to the lane or pulling up for a mid-range jumper (which seem to be the two most obvious plays), the shooter does a great job of handling the ball. He takes Splashy for a bit of a dance here, moving out to the 3-point line before dribbling back into the paint. After getting bumped by Ria, Bsmoove doesn’t panic and hits his big man with a nice pass for a clean look at the basket.
Power forward: Jin
Regular Season: 5.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 49.2 3P%
Playoffs: 5.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 61.5 3P%
The #FreeJin hashtag reappeared when the Warriors needed it the most, and the power forward’s versatility has been on full display during these playoffs.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Jin – Block “
Jin has averaged nearly a steal and block a game during both the regular season and playoffs this year, and it’s partly due to his ability to read a sequence before it actually unfolds. In this clip, he leaves the corner on cue and comes up with a key block before firing a Jokic-esque outlet pass to CB13.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Jin – Steal “
A solid four in the league needs to be productive as a corner defender, and this doesn’t exclusively mean spamming steal when the ball is thrown their way. In this clip, Jin recognizes the chaos created by Lotty running through the middle, which puts both CB13 and Gradient out of position. With Slaughter dropping in coverage to pick up Ria, Jin picks up Splashy until Gradient can catch up. He then takes it a step further and anticipates the corner pass to come up with the takeaway.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Jin – PnR Defense”
Another aspect that top tier power forwards have is their ability to defend the high pick and roll. With the series tied 1-1, Golden State turned to Jin for a stretch of possessions to defend Regg up top. We love the multiple contests and effort here that causes Regg to throw up a difficult shot.
Regular Season: 11.7 PPG, 14.3 RPG, 2.9 BPG
Playoffs: 11.2 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 4.4 BPG
It takes quite a bit of stage presence to not only send the team that dropped you home packing for the year, but also do it while going toe-to-toe with the center they invested the No. 1 overall pick in. While Slaughter may not regularly be mentioned among the top three centers in the game, he’s now one series win away from taking out Ria and Dayfri in consecutive weeks.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Gradient – Block”
Let’s start with the obvious, Slaughter is a force down low, finishing top-five in blocks for the season. He recently took that to another level with an 8-block game in the series clincher against Utah last week. Here’s one of those blocks. Knowing Splashy likes to take those threes up top—especially with the game closing to an end—Slaughter aggressively meets the Jazz point guard but then also starts dropping down into the paint even before the pass has fully left Splashy’s hands. This level of anticipation helps Slaughter get a huge block during a critical moment of the game.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Slaughter – Steal “
What makes Slaughter special on the defensive end isn’t just his rim protection but also his ability to hang on the perimeter. Watch as he confidently meets Splashy up high again and pulls off a well-timed steal to come away with the ball.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Slaughter – Assist”
All elite centers need to have high-level vision when it comes to the offensive side of the court. It all begins with a subtle adjustment Slaughter makes after he initially puts Compete in a bumpy animation. Watch as Slaughter sets a second pick to further put the Utah lock out of position. Ria had to overcompensate with the help on CB13, and Slaughter rolls into the paint. Expecting the Jazz to help off at least one of their corners, Slaughter makes the easy read even before the ball gets into his hands.
Key 1: Beating the Wizards Press
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Wizards Press”
The Washington press led by lock Just_Awkward gave Toronto fits all series. If it didn’t result in a steal, it at least forced the Raptors to eat valuable seconds off the shot clock and be forced into rushed decisions up the court. In the video above, Toronto found some success having center Sick One receive the ball on the right side to either bring the ball up or find a teammate down the court.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Beating The Press”
The Warriors experienced similar pressure during their semifinal matchup with the Jazz. Often Gradient would be that safety valve for CB13, but Golden State would also have Bsmoove and Jin drop down to help. How they perform under pressure against Washington’s versatile defenders will be critical to their success.
Key 2: Secondary Options Making Good Decisions
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Secondary Options – Turnovers”
The Wizards made it a point of emphasis to get the ball out of Kenny’s hands during pivotal moments of the series and expect more of the same with the Warriors and CB13. In the opening game of the semifinals, Kenny only had two turnovers while his teammates accumulated 10 giveaways.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Warriors Turnovers”
We know CB13 will get his, but the Warriors will be put in uncomfortable positions numerous times throughout this upcoming best-of-five, and his supporting cast needs to make smart decisions. These small battles will add up and could be a huge difference-maker in the outcome of the series.
Key 3: With Everything On The Line, Who Are The Wizards?
In a five-game series, we expect nearly every game to be hotly contested. But in the fourth quarter, when game plans are less important, and instinct and feel for the game take over, what do the Wizards look like?
The answer seems to be a balanced attack of JBM and Dayfri, at least when Washington is protecting the lead. Toronto decided to stay home on shooters (more during game two than in game one) and asked JBM to make decisions on the fly.
Here are the numbers for how long each Wizard had the ball in their hands in the half court and how many times they shot the ball. These numbers were tracked until just over a minute left when Washington (up 8 and 12 points) began to get comfortable and freestyle:
Dayfri: 22 seconds, 3 shot attempts
JBM: 54 seconds, 3 shot attempts
ReeseDaGod: 20 seconds, 2 shot attempts
Newdini: 6 seconds, 1 shot attempt
Dayfri: 28 seconds, 3 shot attempts
JBM: 46 seconds, 2 shot attempts
Just_Awkward: 9 seconds, 2 shot attempts
Newdini: 1 second, 0 shot attempts