Though Magic Gaming fell just short of a postseason berth during Season 2, it’s not hard to see why anyone would argue that they possess one of the most talented rosters in the league. They finished last season as the No. 1 defense in PPG allowed, which is no small feat. Their rookie PG, Reizey, learned the ropes on the job as the season progressed and ended up winning a sensational Rookie of the Year honor. 2K League veteran ToXsiK was traded for mid-season and immediately provided a spark to the lineup.
Looking ahead, momentum is on Magic Gaming’s side. With the addition of May (traded by Pistons GT) at center, the returning trio of Reizey, DT and ToXsik are chomping at the bit to get underway for Season 3. Joined by May and Coach Jonah Edwards, the Magic sat down with NBA2KLeague.com to talk about the preparation happening this offseason as they set their sites on getting over the postseason hump.
Question: Let’s talk about Season 2. Magic Gaming made a strong Playoff push that fell just short. Did you guys look back on the season and think it was a successful one, overall? Is the momentum you had down the stretch something you can build on and take going into the start of Season 3 next year?
DT: I think it is. The momentum we had at the end of Season 2, it was because of the good environment we had around our team at the time off the court. We had time to hang out and we were vibing, and I feel like getting Robbie (May, traded by Pistons GT this offseason), his personality fits our personalities as well, so that’ll be our gain even more. I think that we’ll be even better in Season 3.
Reizey: We felt like we were one of the better teams in the league towards the end of Season 2. We were pretty disappointed when we didn’t make the Playoffs. Even though we have momentum, we’re still going into Season 3 with a chip on our shoulders. We want that first Playoff appearance. We’ve missed it the past two seasons by a single game. We’re definitely going to take that momentum and try to become a Playoff team next year.
Q: Jonah, from a coaching perspective, how are you looking to siphon that late-season momentum into a hot start next season?
Coach Jonah Edwards: I think the trade last season had a lot to do with it. I think after the trade (for ToXsiK on Grizz Gaming in exchange for Kel Mav) we were one of the top five teams in the league. This season, we’re going to work towards everything. I think we’re gonna try to go clean slate and start off fresh with this new group which I think is as talented as any team right now. We think we have a really talented group here. The guys get along really well and they mesh their play styles really well together, so I’m really looking forward to this season. I think we can be one of those teams that’ll start out strong.
Q: DT — you just mentioned the personality and skill fit of May. Robbie, talk a little bit about how you think you fit into this lineup and the things you can bring to Magic Gaming this year? Is there anything off-the-court that you can bring to the table, too?
May: I was really happy to come here because I feel like everyone on the team, including Jonah, knows exactly how I play. I’ve played with Reizey before for the past three years, and I know how DT and ToXsiK play by seeing what they’ve done in past seasons and in Pro Am. I think we’ll be able to have really good chemistry like DT said on and off the court because we have similar personalities. We’ll be able to get our chemistry right away from THE TIPOFF.
Q: Reizey, you won Rookie of the Year last season. It’s an incredible award, and we all know what you’re capable of. Does it motivate you further to have won that award without experiencing a Playoff series with Magic Gaming? Does it give you more fuel to help the team even more in that regard next season?
Reizey: Yeah, it’s definitely motivating. A lot of people coming into Season 2 didn’t expect me to have the kind of year I had at point guard, so there’s a lot of pressure to play well again this season. I’m just happy we have the right group of guys around me. I think our core is solid. I have no other expectations other than us being a Playoff team. Obviously we’re working towards a championship, but minimum expectation for me is to make Playoffs for sure.
Q: Point guard wasn’t your top position when you entered the league, right Reizey?
Reizey: No it wasn’t. I qualified in the Combine last season as a shooting guard, and I made the transition to point guard when I entered the league.
Q: Was that a tough transition at the start of the season? You obviously came into your own (17.3 PPG, 9.8 APG, 54% FGP in Season 2), but talk to us about the process of getting more comfortable at the 1.
Reizey: It was definitely a struggle at first. Scrimmaging for the first month or so, I had games where I looked good and there were games where I looked like the worst PG in the league (laughs). I had trouble finding that consistency. My teammates picked me up especially during THE TIPOFF since we made the semifinals even though I might have had the weakest PG performance in the whole tournament. After all those hours of scrimmaging that we put in, we might have put in more hours than any team in the league, I got to the point where I got into a more consistent groove with being a PG. It really helped having those guys around me and Jonah coaching me.
Q: Jonah, was Reizey’s change to PG something that was inevitable or planned in your mind, or was it something that organically presented itself before the competition tipped off last year?
Jonah: When we picked Reizey No. 9 (in the Season 2 draft), we expected him to make that transition to PG. I knew what he was capable of from watching him on the Make it Happen team last offseason. We saw how talented he was and we thought he was just too talented to pass up. If you asked me if I was surprised that he ended up performing as well as he did, I would say no. We expected it from him. A lot of people thought we reached, but looking back in hindsight, that was not the case. I was happy about his progression there last year, I think he just needs to progress further and we’ll continue to put him in a position to succeed this year.
Q: ToXsiK, you’re sort of the old vet at this point and you’ll be tipping off Season 3 with the Magic, your third team in three seasons. It seems like you’ve really settled in here with Orlando. What are some of the aspects of the organization that have stuck with you and made you feel at home?
ToXsiK: One of the biggest things for me was the team is in my home state of Florida. I’d always been close with Jonah and I knew how good of a coach he was, so the moment I got to Orlando, they were very welcoming. My teammates are great. The culture and the vibe has been different than the teams I’ve been on in previous years, so I knew right away when I got there that this was a good group. Jonah had things going the right way, everyone was serious. Practice was different. I told Jonah, for example, one time at practice, Jonah was writing plays on a white board and I was like man, this is the first team I’ve been on that has a white board. I knew how serious every little detail was with him, and that was important for me because it made us grow as a team and made us play well on stage. It’s been everything I could ask for and more. It’s been a blessing being here and I’m excited for Season 3.
Q: There’s more than a handful of players across the league who maintain strong social presences, and you’re one of them. Is it challenging for you to maintain that content and community presence throughout the season? Do you have to reprioritize your responsibilities or do you find ways of producing content in the offseason and during the season?
ToXsiK: I’m more committed to my content in the offseason. When I’m in-season, my number one concern is obviously my goal to be the best player and teammate I can be for Magic Gaming. Ultimately winning is the number one thing. But it’s still important to have some sort of content being published, or at least active on social media. You’re just more focused on your team, games and traveling. That takes time away from your individual content. But, as long as you can find that balance and time management, it can work out. It’s super-important for me in the offseason to ramp it up and go hard. Then during the season, I can take a couple days off and have time to focus on Magic Gaming.
Q: Jonah, is content produced by the team something you actively collaborate on with other internal departments?
Jonah: Absolutely, it’s something we talk about as soon as the guys get into the market for the new season. Even during the draft– the players I’ve had interviews with so far, we talk a lot about building brands down here in Orlando. We try to help guys out with content as much as we can. We actually gave our players iPads set up with several programs so they could produce content whenever they need. We try to facilitate that as much as possible on their end because we want them to be successful as players, but also as their own individual brand. On the team side, it’s nice that we have players who are well-spoken and great in front of the camera. But, I would continue to encourage them to take the extra step. We’re always behind them to do so.
Q: DT, it looks like you took on a more vocal role late last season. Was that something that came naturally and organically for you, or is that also something Jonah and your teammates helped cultivate for you to do more often?
DT: When I got drafted, I knew that I had to take on more of a leadership role on the team. I knew that Reid was more of a quiet leader. Towards the end of Season 2, I wanted to feel like I was the leader of the team, but at the same time there was a ton I had to fix, like my delivery. Even when Kel Mav was a part of the team. I felt like UCManny and I were more of the vocal leaders of the team, but I wanted to fix delivery and really become that vocal presence at the end of the year.
Q: What sorts of skills and improvements to your game are you grinding out this offseason?
DT: Yeah, ToXsiK is working on improving his shooting this offseason (laughs).
ToXsiK: I’ll go first then since that’s already out there (laughs). For me, obviously improving scoring is important for me. Obviously being a defender, my main priority is playing good defense. I see myself as someone who communicates with the team well already, but I’m always looking to improve any aspect of my game. If I can help a little more on offense and take some pressure off of Reid and DT who are already great scorers, then I think that’ll help us a lot.
DT: To me it again goes back to my delivery, how I say things. It’s less of a gameplay thing for me and more of a team environment thing. Sometimes we’ll be in a game and I’ll say something that comes off as aggressive, but I don’t mean it to be. I realize I can hurt the team that way, so that’s my biggest aspect I’m working on improving for next season.
May: I’m working on knowing, when I have the ball, whether to be aggressive or sit back and read the defense. I would say that I’m working on recognizing defenses a little more and see where it’s right to just go and try to score.
Reizey: The main thing I’ve been working on is my defense. I’ve been focused on that all offseason. Our team was the No. 1 defense in the league last year and that was really not because of me (laughs), it was because of everyone else. We have really good defenders on our team. I don’t want to be seen as the weak link on the defensive side of the ball. I’m working on my game on that end. On offense, I’ve been working on playing slower sometimes, like when the defense is going crazy, I’ll get too sped up on offense and I end up turning the ball over. I definitely have to work on slowing down the offense and preventing turnovers more.
Q: What are your impression of 2K20? Are you looking forward to playing on the new league build?
Reizey: I’m definitely looking forward to playing on the league build this season. After testing the Combine build, I think it really fits our team play style well. If the league build plays anything like the Combine build, we’ll be one of the better teams coming in early. It won’t be much of an adjustment for us. We’re just excited to get going on this season.
Jonah: I think a priority for us was to get guys who play 2K20 regularly. Guys who are active in the offseason and grind away consistently. That was our biggest plan going into the offseason. Credit to these guys on the phone, they’ve put in a ton of hours on 2K20, and I think we’re all generally looking forward to playing on the game. I think I’ve even put in more hours on the game than some retained players around the league. We think we’re in a pretty good place going into Season 3. We’re optimistic that the league build will feel good after playing through the Combine.
Q: With three of you being retained and coming back for the action next season (Reizey, DT, ToXsiK), can you talk about the importance and value of carrying over that familiarity, chemistry and consistency that you cultivated last year? Does that give you an advantage from the jump? What role will that chemistry play into Magic Gaming’s success next year?
ToXsiK: I think it’ll always be important to keep a core together. We talked about that during the season a lot. I came in later on during Season 2, and that’s when we started to make that strong push for the postseason. At the end, we felt like we left a lot on the table. So it was important for us to keep that core together moving into Season 3. Adding someone like May to the core is a big plus for our team. We want to give it another shot and we’re looking forward to it.
Q: What were your favorite OG Draft Day memories?
DT: I was new to the community early on. It’s so dope to jump on and play with some guys every day, and then you go to Draft Day and you see all of them in real life… it’s a different kind of environment and cool to finally put faces to the names that you see online every day. Reid and I were teammates before we got drafted, and when we got to the draft, I didn’t know where I was going because where I went Reid went. I knew if Orlando picked Reid, they’d pick me, going back to the whole chemistry thing. You can’t sleep the night before the Draft. You’re anxious, you’re so excited. I just couldn’t sleep!
Reizey: Draft Day is a crazy experience. Going through the interviews with teams, I had a pretty good idea where I’d go during the draft. When Jonah picked me ninth overall, I was super excited to be going into a situation I was already comfortable with. Orlando was one of my top destinations coming into the league. I had known Jonah before the league, playing on the Mavs practice squad with him during Season 1. I built a relationship with him there, knew what kind of coach he was. I knew he’d take competing seriously and help our team grow. I wanted to play with him. When the Magic got DT in the second round, we were good friends before the league so it was a blessing to head into this familiar situation. That made the transition into the league easier and it made Draft Day that much better than it already was.
ToXsiK: I have a different story with my teammates being rookies in Season 2. For me, I haven’t attended a draft day at all. I had a house party with a bunch of family and friends. Like DT said, there are a lot of emotions playing in your head, you can’t sleep. You don’t know where you’ll end up. A lot of nerves, a lot of excitement. You obviously want to hear your name get called. It’s a dream come true. It changes your life. For me, being unretained in Season 1 and going back into the draft, a lot of thoughts and nerves go through your head, hoping you’ll get another opportunity. For me, I put in a lot of time and work, and I got picked up in Memphis for Season 2, then traded to Orlando. There are a lot of nerves and excitement, but it’s one of those things that you’ll never forget. It’ll stick with you forever.
May: My first memory was, I remember the weather was really bad that week. The flights to New York were delayed. I finally got there and saw Reid and DT, a lot of other rookies and we just chilled. It was the first time I had met them in person. I had never gone to a previous 2K event, so it was pretty cool to see everyone in person. Draft Day, I remember thinking there was no chance I’d go to Detroit because Joseph was already there at Center, and beyond that a couple teams I thought would pick me didn’t pick me. They knew I had crazy chemistry with Mr_Stylez, so I was happy to go there to Detroit with him. It was one of the best days of my life.
Jonah: I was a Knicks fan growing up, so it was an incredible experience growing up being in the underbelly of Madison Square Garden. It was incredible for me. I do remember the Draft. There was a ton of energy there. I don’t remember as much nervousness as anxiousness. I prepared for months and months and months with interviews and analytics databases we make. All of that sort of comes to fruition on Draft Day and you’re able to select your player– it was just an incredible experience. I remember just wanting to get it done and I knew we put the work in to draft a great group. Obviously Season 1 was even more incredible because we drafted 1st overall (as a member of Mavs Gaming), with (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver on the stage announcing it. The whole thing was an experience I’ll never forget. The Season 2 draft I feel similarly. We were doing it from the war room in Orlando where they actually do the NBA Drafts as well. Calling Reid on the phone, I remember he sounded scared when he picked the phone up, and he actually mentioned to me afterwards that he thought we were calling him to let him know we weren’t picking him, which is not something most teams would do. He was surprised, and we were thrilled about the selection and the direction we went over the entire Draft last season. The Drafts are super fun and I’m looking forward to it again in February. We’ll be feeling the same anxiousness again as well.
Reizey: Well, there were a couple of other great players on the board there (laughs). He called me early, around when the eighth pick was being decided, so I wasn’t expecting to get that call next.
Q: Reizey and DT, you’ve mentioned being good friends before the league, and going back to the chemistry equation, can you describe how your relationship helps settle both of you and gives you more focus and confidence to perform?
Reizey: We played with each other for so long before the league that going into the season, most players around the league are learning their new teammates’ styles and it takes them a while to develop that chemistry. DT and I knew how we played heading into it all, so we knew what to expect from each other. We knew how to communicate with each other. There were times where we’d argue in practice, and most teammates would do that and then not talk to each other for the rest of the day. We lived with each other. We’re roommates. So we’d go back and everything would be cool when we got home. Having our friendship, allowing us to play for the teammates you know won’t take anything personally no matter what. At the end of the day, we have the same goal. It definitely helped us out last year and we’re looking forward to next season as well.
DT: For me it was also a comfort thing. Even during the Draft I had stayed the night with Reid and his dad. We had talked about if we could end up on the same team, that would be cool. We didn’t think it would actually happen, and if was going to happen it all, it would be with Orlando. In the second round, I knew if I had dropped to Washington, I could have gotten picked there, so Orlando was the only team with a high-enough pick in the first round to pick Reid, and a high-enough pick in the second round to pick me. I was pretty happy with that because it goes back to landing on a team with a teammate you’ve known forever, so it’s a comfort thing for sure.
Q: What is the key element that’ll get Magic Gaming over the hump this year and into the Playoffs?
DT: I think it’s everyone being bought into their role and handling whatever adversity comes our way. I think everyone on our team is very good at what they do. I feel like if everyone plays their game, handles their role, and everything clicks, I think we’ll be one of the best teams.
Jonah: If this group comes in and we’re committed to each other, we trust each other, we’re bought into our specific roles, have a great attention to detail in our specific roles in what we’re asked to do, I think we’ll be as good a team as any in this league. We have guys that play the game every day and who want to get better. Guys who take this incredibly seriously, and it’s what I’ve always hoped for. This will be my third year coaching, and I would say this is the most optimistic I’ve felt going into a season. I think we have the right amount of talent, chemistry and mix. As long as we hit right in the February draft, and we get a couple players who fit well with us, I think we’ll have a great season.
Reizey: Last year, we were statistically the No. 1 defense in the league, giving up the least amount of points per game. That’s kind of our focus going into this season as well. ToXsiK and DT are two of the top defenders in the league at their position, and of course we traded for May, who we think is one of the better defensive and rebounding centers in the league, so that’s definitely a strength heading into next year.
ToXsiK: I think it’s super-important that everyone comes in with the same mindset, that each person has a job to do and that job is equally as important as everyone else’s is. If you come in every day with the right work ethic and understand that they’ll be ups and downs throughout the season, it’ll be a long season, but if we stick together and we do things the right way, we know we can get to where we want to get. If we do that, we’ll be set up for success for Season 3.
Q: Talk to us about the growth that you’ve seen of the NBA 2K League? What’s it like from your perspective to be a part of it? How excited does it make you?
DT: I think for me, because I got this opportunity at such a young age, sometimes I’ll be in bed thinking about how blessed I am. I haven’t yet had to do the whole school to career thing, this IS my career now. With the NBA 2K League, it gives me such a pathway into what I want to do later on in my career.
May: I feel so blessed with this opportunity. I personally didn’t have a backup plan. I knew this is what I wanted to do. I knew I was good enough to be in the league. I play the game all the time but if I ever need motivation, I just think about how lucky I am to have this league and this platform. I try to make the most of it.
Reizey: It’s definitely a blessing. You find yourself thinking all the time, in my room playing 2K and I’ll just be like, this is my job. This is what I get to do. It’s an indescribable feeling. To be one of the first people to jump on board with this league is a blessing. I want to continue helping it grow any way that I can. I’m super excited for the future of it. Having an overseas team now is huge. I think that’s one of our next steps in this league, is to go overseas.
ToXsiK: Every day you wake up and it’s like, wow, I’m walking over to an NBA facility and I’m playing the game for a living. It’s something that I’m super-appreciative for. It’s something that I never take for granted. Having tournaments in different places and now having teams join in from different regions around the world, the sky’s the limit with the league. It’s cool to see it flourish from it’s small stages into something big. It’s something I really enjoy and I love being a part of it.
Jonah: I did this because I love it. I never thought it would amount to a career. To be here now is incredibly humbling, to be able to work with an incredible organization like the Magic- my boss is an awesome guy to work for. I think we’re all lucky to be a part of the Magic specifically. Looking at the greater league, it’s a blessing to be on the ground floor for something like this. The sky is the limit like Brandon said. I think we’re all in this for the long run, and hopefully we can see it through to becoming a great, great success for the NBA. I work towards that just like everyone else does in the league.