Player protections and retention figure to be hot-button NBA 2K League topics every single year and this offseason is no different. All teams besides one have publicly announced their player protections with some interesting calls along the way. An early trend you will notice is a pointed attempt to keep competent point guards, leaving plenty of talented wings and bigs up for grabs during the Expansion Draft. An extreme way-too-early analysis of NBA 2K20 — if you’re on Twitter at least — says it’s going to be a very different game from it’s predecessor much like in previous years, so trying to pick out the meta for Season 3 at this stage is near impossible at this time. In the meantime, let’s focus on numbers and see which teams seemingly set themselves up well for next season. Let’s continue with teams that made the playoffs. Click here for part 1.
Protected: Dimez (PG), Sherm (SG), PeteBeBallin (C)
Unprotected: Mo (SF), RuxGT (PF), GRANT MONSTER (F)
After keeping only one player from their Season 1 roster, the Mavs titled the scales the other way this season and kept three players from Season 2. Dimez is not a surprise. As the face of the franchise and one of the biggest names in the league, he figures to be in Dallas for a long time. While he doesn’t have the volume scoring or 3-point shooting numbers of other point guards, he remains one of the best floor generals in the entire league and led all Point Guards in FG% this season at 59.1%. PeteBeBallin also wasn’t a surprise. A Rookie-of-the-Year front runner from the beginning of the season, him and Dimez were one of the best pick-and-roll combos in the entire league. He was also one of the leagues premiere rim defenders, which also helps explain their third player protection. Without pitting one player vs. another, Sherm over Mo simply shows what the organization values. Mo is a very good shooter, but his most natural position may be at PG, a spot Dimez currently resides over. Sherm ended up being their pick and from a defensive standpoint, it’s a great pick. Mavs Gaming held opponents to a league-worst 52.9% shooting from the floor and 46.5% from 3. The combination of Sherm and Pete gives the Mavs a great defensive duo to build around while also having multiple starting spots for shooters when the draft comes around in 2020.
Protected: Radiant (PG), BreadwinnerLA (PF), Steez (C)
UnProtected: ZDS (SG/SF), Newdini (SG/SF), oCASSIUS (F)
We finally get to the Season 2 runner-ups. A lot of people were wondering what exactly Coach of the Year Jeff Terrell was going to do with his starting 5 and he may be intending to try and bring them all back. MVP candidate Radiant was always going to be kept and holding onto his Season 1 counterpart Steez also wasn’t a huge surprise. The big decision fans were wondering about was BreadwinnerLA vs. ZDS. Both come with immense talent and production. Breadwinner became one of the best defensive big men in the entire league during Season 2, making the All-Defensive team and being a catalyst for what ended up being the best defense in league. ZDS evolved into an elite sharpshooter and a fantastic offensive partner to Radiant and his explosive shooting ability led him to set the season-high in scoring. Based off his Twitter feed and his relationship with the rest of his team, it seems that 76ers GC would like to bring him back for next year.
Protected: Mama Im Dat Man (PG), LavishPhenom (SG), OneWildWalnut (C)
UnProtected: King Peroxide (F), Daveed 3x (PF), Jomar12PR
Blazer5 Gaming has a conundrum on their hands. They have arguably the best trio in the league, but zero playoff wins to show for it. We could go on and on about how amazing the three of them are and how dominant they have been statistically through two full seasons. If you’ve been paying attention to the all-time stats we’ve been releasing, you have probably noticed that Blazer5 leads every other category. However, stats don’t always equal wins. The biggest challenge for Blazer5 is finding that next piece on the perimeter who can put them over the edge. They traded a 1st round pick for King Peroxide last season, hoping that would do the trick, but here we stand again with them looking for other options. They have the talent, they have the chemistry, what is that final missing piece? We are all wondering what tricks they have up their sleeve to find it.
Protected: Wolf 74 (G/F), Swizurk (G/F), Ramo (PF/C)
Unprotected: Matty (PG), Man_in_a_car (G), Lord Beezus (PF/C)
Most of the teams were tough to predict as to who they were going to protect. Pacers Gaming was, for many, one of the easier teams to predict. Wolf, Swiz and Ramo form one of the best cores in the entire league and it would have surprised many to see one of them hit the open market. We all know how good they are defensively, but the challenge for Coach Cody Parrent will be to find a partner for Swizurk on the perimeter. Swiz might be the best pure shooter in the entire league — he led all qualified shooters in FG%, TS%, & eFG%. His True Shooting % was a mind-bending 78.9%, meaning that every shot he took had an almost 80% chance of going in! Putting a top-5 PG on this team would create nightmares for opposing teasm, especially if they are able to bring back Ramo’s front-court partner Lord Beezus.
Warriors Gaming Squad:
Protected: CB13 (PG), Gradient (SG/SF), Bsmoove (SF)
Unprotected: Type (C), Jin (PF), Chiquita (PF)
Despite their regular season shortcomings, one would think Warriors Gaming Squad would want to bring back their whole team from last year after winning two tournaments. Unfortunately, that’s not possible, so some tough decisions had to be made. The King of the Sharps Bsmoove had another fantastic season while No. 2 overall pick Gradient proved to be a perfect defensive counterpart with him on the wing. While Jin is an excellent player and will likely be on his third team in 3 years & Chiquita deserves a real starting spot on another team, the biggest decision likely came down to CB13 and Type. There really isn’t a wrong answer, both are excellent players with elite skill-sets. The decision seemed to come down to one simple fact: Position. Having a competent point guard is so essential to success in the league, that it seems the Warriors had to sacrifice their defensive powerhouse just to keep up. CB13’s talent is well-known around the league and good point guards are really hard to find. Type instantly becomes one of the top non-protected players as a perfect player to build a franchise around.
Kings Guard Gaming:
Protected: Bp (PG), Yusuf Scarbz (SF), BallLikeSeem (PF)
Unprotected: zakkychan (SG), worthingcolt (C), Roman (G/F)
Kings Guard Gaming was one of the surprises of Season 2, going from the bottom of the standings in Season 1 to a Playoff team this past season. A lot of that had to do with the incredible play of Bp, who led all rookies with 19.3 PPG. BallLikeSeem had a good year as well, but the 14.2 PPG seems like something that could increase with another season next to Bp. Yusuf Scarbz was also one of the best surprises of Season 2 as he became one of the best defensive players in the entire league and earned a spot on the All-Defensive team. The notable exception to the protections was worthingcolt. One of the most passionate players in the league, he was the emotional leader of this team and his absence will definitely be noted next season. Colt will likely find a new home for next season and his first matchup vs. Kings Guard Gaming will be must-watch TV…err…must-watch Internet.
Protected: BearDaBeast (PG), JMoneyRep817 (SF), FEAST (PF)
Unprotected: JoJo (PF/C), TURNUPDEFENSE (SG), Nacho Traynor (F, Hired by Hornets Venom GT)
There are many times in sports when it’s nice to be the person analyzing a decision rather than being the person who has to make it. This is one of those situations. With a championship roster, you’re always going to have to make some tough cuts. No retaining Turn Up and Jojo is exactly that, tough. Both were integral pieces to the championship run and frankly, irreplaceable going forward. With the three that T-Wolves Gaming have chosen, it’s now up to interim coach and GM Justin Butler to retool the roster and get it ready for a title defense. Bear might be in Minnesota until the end of time after the season he just had and FEAST and JMoney are two of the best compliments to him that you could find. While finding a new lock will be a bit easier, a Jojo replacement will be extremely hard to come by. He could be targeted by them in the Draft in order to keep some continuity on the roster. While their first pick will likely come late, it’s also very exciting to think about who the T-Wolves will add in the Draft as they gear up for Season 3.
CLTX Crossover Gaming:
CLTX Gaming have not officially announced any protections. When reached for comment, Team Operations Manager Michael Wan said, “We’re protecting between two and three players, and those two-to-three players were on our roster at the conclusion of the season. We love and are immensely proud of all players who have represented CLTX across the two seasons thus far.”