2K League Notebook: Playoff Preview
August 17, 2020
4 months. 3 tournaments. 2 playoff weeks. 1 Champion.
We’ve made it. It’s time for the NBA 2K League playoffs and we have 10 incredible teams all looking to become the third champion in league history. Below, we’re going to go team by team and break down their chances of taking home the title. We’ll also touch on each 1st round series as we roll through the teams, let’s get to it!
1. Raptors Uprising GC (16-0)
I think we all know what’s at stake. Season 3 Raptors Uprising GC have already cemented themselves as the best regular-season team in league history, without question. You can discuss the differences about on-stage vs. remote play all you like, but the fact is this: No one has ever been as dominant in any context as this Raptors Uprising team has been. The tournament record deserves attention as they’ve lost two total tournament games this season for a stunning 18-2 record. On the season, they are 50-6 in 56 total games played. Raptors Uprising GC has as much to lose as any team has ever had in league history, but the reward is becoming known as the best 2K League team ever. For other teams, it’s JUST winning the title. For Raptors Uprising GC, there is a lot more on the line.
2. Utah Jazz Gaming (14-2)
The culmination of two years of roster flux, Coach of the Year contender 2Kcompgames helped build this team into an elite title contender and one of the best regular-season teams the league has ever seen. Their 14-2 record would be even more impressive if it wasn’t for Raptors Uprising’s 16-0 mark. In fact, only Blazer5 Gaming in Season 2 has achieved a regular-season record of that stature. Led by former No. 1 overall pick Ria, this team has been dominant on both ends of the floor. They’ve had an unfortunate storyline this season of losing in big spots, including twice in the semifinals of the midseason tournaments. They are also on a tough side of the bracket with possible match-ups against Blazer5 Gaming and Bucks Gaming looming, two teams that they had issues with against this season, especially Bucks Gaming. They are a strong No. 2 seed and will be the favorites in every non-Raptors series, but the upset potential is still high.
3. Warriors Gaming Squad (13-3)
There is a ton of the line for Warriors Gaming Squad. We’re in an entirely different ballgame this season vs. last year when they were the upstart surprise team of Season 2. Winning two tournaments and making it all the way to the semifinals was a great season, but expectations are elevated this time around. They came into this season with a clear goal, title or bust. The problem is they are running into their worst-case scenario for a bracket. Their likely match-ups are Bucks Gaming, Jazz Gaming, and Raptors Uprising GC. Talk about a nightmare. Their upcoming match-up with Bucks Gaming is a fascinating one to break down. WGS beat Bucks Gaming in their regular season match-up, but that feels like an eternity ago and also before Bucks Gaming installed their new defense. It transformed the entire Bucks team from an offensive team that wins and loses in shootouts to a two-way force with a huge forced turnover rate and an improved transition offense. Warriors Gaming Squad is going to have their hands full in Round 1, so we may need to see them hit a gear that we just haven’t seen yet this season. WGS is a good team, but to win the title, we are going to need to see them transform into a GREAT team.
4/5. Wizards District Gaming/Kings Guard Gaming (13-3)/(11-5)
I’m cheating and putting these two teams together because these two teams are remarkably similar and they are playing each other in Round 1. Let’s go down the list. First-round rookie PG? Check. Elite rookie lock? Check. Sharp that has improved through three-straight seasons? Check. Elite 2-Way PF? Check. Defensive powerhouse at Center? Check. Elite coach? Check. We’re 6/6 and now we get these two defensive behemoths in the 1st round of the playoffs. By my account, these are the two best defensive teams in the league. They are both elite when it comes to the rotating and switching prowess of these two groups and the incredible play of Crush and Just_Awkward at lock make these two of the nastiest teams any league Point Guard has ever had to play against. It’s an even push, I’m not sure there is a true favorite in this series, but it would not be a surprise if we got a 3-game series out of this. As most things in this league do, it’s going to come down to the Point Guards. Whoever wins the head-to-head between JBM and Bash is likely to win their team the series. Which one is that going to be? Your guess is as good as mine.
6. Bucks Gaming (10-6)
When this Bucks team was 2-4, it really looked like this team was going to have the same issues as past season (see Defensive issues, not enough clutch scoring). Then, Bucks Gaming caught fire. An 8-2 finish to the season saw this team get to the Playoffs for the first time in franchise history while the elite PG they have been waiting for emerged. It took Arooks a couple months to fit into his role, but once he and Regg got on the same page, this team was a well-oiled offensive machine. Regg and Arooks are arguably the best backcourt in the league and both have the ability to go off for 30+ points at any time. Defensively, it’s a bit of a puzzle. Their defensive rating has rapidly improved as the season has gone on, but they don’t have the elite defensive talent some other teams do. What they do have is Squidris at PF who can defend three different positions during some possessions. They’ve added some interesting wrinkles — some that are may really keep WGS on their toes — but they are still going to have to score a ton of points to win the series. This is a fun playoff darkhorse, but at this point, they might not be surprising anyone.
7. Mavs Gaming (10-6)
This is the thinking man’s NBA 2K League team. Slow, methodical, and defensive, this Mavs Gaming squad looks a lot like the Mavs Gaming team we saw last season, except the starting lineup is much different. Dimez is playing the 2 or 3 now with Sherm taking over the lead guard spot full-time. Mo has come in and performed decently well at lock and Spartan and PeteBeBallin have been an excellent tandem down low. There is one area of weakness, however, with this team as they don’t score all that much. In fact, they averaged the 4th-fewest points of any team in the league at 64.2 PPG. Their entire gameplan is to hold the other team to 60 or fewer points and to play the whole game at their pace. They shoot well, but this team’s identity is not to outscore the other team by 30. Instead, they are going to win close, gritty games. There is one other concerning fact for them, they are going up against Blazer5 Gaming, a team they haven’t beaten in three seasons. Blazer5 loves playing high paced, shoot-out kind of games. Mama and Walnut have had their number in the NBA 2K League, but the Playoffs can cure all. They are a much better defensive team than Blazer5, this season especially, but whether their strategy pays off, remains to be seen.
8/9. Hornets Venom GT/NetsGC (9-7)/(8-8)
I’m cheating again since these two teams are one seed apart and are matched up against each other. With NetsGC and Hornets Venom GT, two expansion teams getting their 1st taste of the NBA 2K League Playoffs, this is a battle of two teams with two drastically different play styles. NetsGC plays their entire offense through Choc, allowing him to pick apart defenses and ping passes in a primarily drive-and-kick based offense. NetsGC has some weaknesses, but they’ve done a great job at taking advantage of Choc’s playmaking tendencies and it’s led them into the postseason, something they failed to do last season. One potential reason for worry is their record since they moved mid-season acquisition, Chess, to the bench. They are just 1-5 since they made the switch. On the other side is Hornets Venom GT, who have been excellent on both ends of the floor since Type returned from suspension. They play as a team as well as any unit in the league. Whether it’s Type’s playmaking ability at Center and surrounding him with shooters or the underrated play of Trap funneling guards into the waiting teeth of Type and Zae, this is a very good basketball team. Their 9-7 record doesn’t do them much justice, but their top-5 ranked 108.6 defensive rating definitely does. Choc is going to have to play his best ball of the season to pull off an upset.
10. Blazer5 Gaming (8-8)
It may be a surprise to some that Blazer5 Gaming made the Playoffs, but should it be? In a year when 2K League stalwarts like 76ersGC, CLTX Gaming, Heat Check Gaming, and even Season 2 champion T-Wolves Gaming missed the Playoffs, Blazer5 Gaming survived and advanced in THE TICKET powered by AT&T. It’s not your typical season or team for Blazer5 Gaming as they are more reliant on Mama Im Dat Man and OneWildWalnut as they have ever been, and an 8-8 season is not what we are used to from them. However, with nothing left to lose, it’s a different tone for them heading into the Playoffs. Their offense has been on fire as of late, leading all teams in PPG during THE TICKET and the recent improved play of Maje7ic is HUGE for them. Mavs Gaming is a old foe of Blazer5, one that they have never lost to in team history. I’m sure they don’t want to stop now, but the Mavs slow pace of play could get them into some trouble. Mama loves to play fast on offense, diving up teams with his handles and 3-point shooting, but Mavs Gaming is going to force him off the perimeter. Watch for Mama to show off his excellent finish skills as he did against T-Wolves Gaming. No one is better in the post and few players in league history have the IQ to rely on post scoring when the 3-ball isn’t dropping. Watch for Mama “Mike Trout” Im Dat Man to change things up against Mavs Gaming.