The second annual NBA 2K League Draft has come and gone.
In all, 75 players heard their name called over four rounds. It opened with Jazz Gaming making the first selection and closed hours later with defending champion Knicks Gaming rounding out their roster.
Along the way there was a ton of intrigue as we saw unretained players, international players and the league’s first female player all get selected. WATCH THE DRAFT HERE
Here are 15 takeaways from what was a historic and unpredictable draft:
1. To no one’s surprise, Jazz Gaming made Ria the No. 1 overall pick. He immediately steps in as a difference-maker at center, a position of great need for Utah, while possessing the versatility to shine at other positions. Jazz Gaming needed to nail this pick to jumpstart the rebuild, and they did just that.
2. Ria promptly declared his squad the “favorites” heading into next season during his on-stage interview. While his confidence is definitely not lacking, the rest of the league may have something to say about his declaration. Time will tell if Jazz Gaming’s turnaround will occur that quickly.
3. The first three picks of the draft went chalk, with Gradient (more on him later) and Bp hearing their names called after Ria. Then came the first real curveball. Needing a point guard, Pistons GT selected MrStylez_ at No. 4, ahead of such other point guards as BearDaBeast, Vandi and Kina. Detroit obviously went with the player they felt best fits their franchise.
4. Probably the biggest surprise of the first round came two picks later. With a pair of first-rounders, Bucks Gaming had the ability to go a number of ways with their selections. They decided not to wait on a big man at No. 6, grabbing Plondo instead of rolling the dice and hoping he fell to their next pick at No. 17.
5. The steal of the first round, coincidentally enough, is a player who was linked heavily to Bucks Gaming. That would be BearDaBeast, who slid to the 11th pick before landing with the expansion T-Wolves Gaming. Considered one of the top point guards in the Draft Pool, there’s no doubt Bear will carry a chip on his shoulder moving forward.
6. Warriors Gaming Squad were positioned to hit a home run with two top-10 picks. Things couldn’t have worked out better as they landed Gradient with the second pick before nabbing Kina on the backend. It’s a pairing that will likely pay immediate dividends for a squad that finished 4-10 last year.
7. History was made by Chiquitae126, who became the league’s first woman to be drafted into the NBA 2K League after being selected by Warriors Gaming Squad in the fourth round. It made for an awesome moment as the crowd erupted in huge cheers as she walked on stage. Chiquitae was overcome with emotion, showing just how much the journey to this point meant to her. She’ll forever be remembered as a trailblazer in the league, that’s for certain.
8. Another milestone moment occurred when Jaacko, who hails from New Zealand, went to Pistons GT with the 50th pick. The league made an effort to identify additional international talent by hosting its first-ever APAC Invitational during the offseason. Jaacko was able to showcase his talents for league representatives at the event and it paid off with a spot in the league.
9. The team that had the most intriguing draft, at least on paper, is the one that owned the most picks.That would be Mavs Gaming, who filled out their roster around Dimez with a trio of well-known comp players (PeteBeBallin, Byanymeansmo, Sherm) to go with a pair of seasoned players (Rux, GRANT MONSTER) in giving the team a brand new identity heading into season 2.
10. While we’ve yet to see a player-coach in the league, DevGoss achieved something cool in his own right. After missing out on last year’s Draft Pool, he spent half of the season as coach of Magic Gaming. Dev continued to grind, turning his clipboard in for a controller this year in getting selected 13th overall pick by Hawks Talon GC.
11. The looming question coming into the draft was this — how favorably would unretained players be looked upon? The answer proved to be positive, as four of them went within the first 32 picks, including Im So Far Ahead and LYKaPRO, a pair of point guards who were taken in the first round. In all, 23 unretained players were chosen.
12. Sometimes there’s something to be said for comfort. That certainly was the case for a handful of players who found themselves re-drafted by the team that chose not to retain them in the offseason. That includes Raptors Uprising GC, who welcomed back both KingQuai614 and TsJosh with late-round picks to a team that made the playoffs a season ago.
13. Kings Guard Gaming were dealt a huge blow before the draft even began as it was announced that Timelycook had been suspended for the season for violating the player code of conduct. The team was awarded a compensatory pick at the end of the third round, but had to adjust on the fly in drafting five new players.
14. The strangest coincidence of the evening? The final pick in the 2018 draft was HazzaUK2K. The final pick of the 2019 draft was none other than HazzaUK2K. The European big man moves from Dallas to New York as he finds himself back on a roster.
15. And to the 100-plus eligible players who didn’t hear their name called, this year’s draft class is proof that if you stick to the grind you can earn a spot in the league. Season 3 will be here before you know it.
Note: This article is the opinion of this writer and do not reflect the views of the NBA 2K League or its clubs.