After orchestrating one of the biggest offseason trades in NBA 2K League history and retaining two familiar faces, Kings Guard Gaming is primed to build off their Season 2 success. Dat Boy Shotz (via Hawks Talon GC) will bring his versatility and off-the-court preparation to the club, while Yusuf_Scarbz and BallLikeSeem (both retained) are preparing to play whatever role they need to in a starting lineup that should be potent and dangerous.
NBA2KLeague.com sat down with Yusuf and Seem, two third-year veterans who just want to do one thing in Season 3: Win it all.
Question: Give us your assessment of Season 2 for Kings Guard Gaming.
Yusuf: I made Playoffs Season 1 and Playoffs Season 2. With Season 2, yeah I had bigger goals and we had an amazing team. Individually I felt like we had the chance to win the whole thing. We fell short to the champion Timberwolves. But I had big goals in mind. I wanted to surpass just making the Playoffs. Yes that’s a decent goal to have, but getting kicked out in the first round two seasons in a row, to me, is unacceptable and I plan to change that next season.
BallLikeSeem: Last season was a step up for me, since I played with Mavs Gaming in Season 1 and we didn’t make the postseason with the great team we had. Making the Playoffs with Kings Guard Gaming was good for me but obviously I want more than that, being the player that I am. Just being in the Playoffs… I just want to win. If you’re not winning, you’re losing, and no one wants to lose. With the great team we had in Season 2, we could have won it all.
Q: Yusuf, you made a big improvement statistically in Season 2. What did you unlock that helped you on the court?
Yusuf: In Season 1, we had a bunch of players that played similar roles to me. AllHailTrey, Detoxys, KingQuai and myself, guys who played power forward and center. I felt like I was one of the best shooters on the team, which is why I think they moved me to pure sharp in Season 1. Starting out in Season 2, I didn’t shoot the ball well. I was benched early. Then I just found my role, practicing and working on my game, putting in the hours. I ended up getting better every night.
Q: Seemo, is there anything in your game that you’re looking to improve or get more consistent with for Season 3?
BallLikeSeem: I definitely had a different role this year compared to Season 1, where I played with Dimez who was more of a passer. For Season 2, I’m playing with BP, another great guard, who was score-heavy. I think it was great for me playing with those two different types of guards, because now I have the mindset to know what to expect from those two different play styles. It helped me mentally. I knew I could get the team 14-16 points daily, and it was more of a mental learning for me.
Q: With BP traded and Worthingcolt not retained, do you guys feel like you’re in a position to take the leadership roles for Kings Guard Gaming? With the roster turnover, is there any concern on how you move forward without the likes of BP or Colt?
Yusuf: Whoever we land, whether it be a passing PG or aggressive PG, I feel like the core guys we have right now can mesh well with anyone.
BallLikeSeem: Each year, I feel like I get better and better. I have my own Pro Am team and I play on-ball with them, dribbling and all that. Then when I go play with Dat Boy Shotz preparing for Season 3, meshing together and getting our chemistry down, I’m playing more off-ball. Being able to do both of those things, I feel like that’s great. I may have to play both those roles next season.
Q: Seem, with Dat Boy Shotz coming over via the huge offseason trade, how do you think you guys will mesh with his personality and play style? Are you excited to be playing alongside him?
BallLikeSeem: Yeah. You know, during Season 1, he had said to me, ‘We’re gonna play together one season.’ And the type of player he is, watching him play, he’s very smart. Off the court, that’s what blew my mind. He had studied and knew players’ tendencies already going into games. That player was going right so he had to do this move to go left… That was amazing to me. I know he watches as much film as he should, and seeing that, it’s great to know that’s what I have on my team now. It’s really gonna help us out.
Yusuf: I’m excited to have Shotz on the team. I’ve played against him in the past and had a rivalry with my whole Portland/Walnut thing in Season 1 (laughs). I’m excited to have him on my team now. With Shotz, he works behind the scenes a lot. He’s the type of player I am. He’s serious about winning. He cares about practice, he pays attention to details. Here’s a little background story. So Season 1, I was one of the first players to start the cold shoulder move. He was the one who figured out how to stop it. He had practiced with Grant Monster for like 10 hours just to figure out how to stop that move. So I’m excited to have him on the team knowing how serious he takes the league and how he wants to win every game.
Q: What kinds of personality traits and player skill sets are you hoping to add to Kings Guard Gaming via the upcoming Draft?
BallLikeSeem: We’re looking for someone who can obviously play the game well. You can score. You can pass. Even if you score heavy, it doesn’t matter as long as you have that personality where you’re willing to get better and you’re willing to listen to your teammates. We’re always gonna try to work with you. No team is ever gonna bash you, it’s all about getting better at the end of the day. We want you to be the best you can be. Same thing with me. People yell at me and want me to be the best I can be, and that’s up for whomever we’re gonna draft.
Yusuf: We’re trying to build a good, bonded team that has great communication. Build a winning culture with players who are willing to buy into the system that we’ve already created. We want to work together to determine roles, listening to the coaching and eventually winning the ‘ship. That’s the goal.
Q: How are you guys trying to improve your game this offseason? What are you grinding out lately?
Yusuf: I’ve been playing center and power forward a lot this offseason. Shotz and I are very versatile when it comes to positions on the court. We definitely can fluctuate playing center, power forward or small forward. I’m definitely working heavy on center because power forward, I’ve been playing that for a while now. But center, I’m working on that just in case things change up. I’ve been playing the game a lot. I’m almost a legend on 2K and I also just graduated and got my university degree in criminology, BA.
BallLikeSeem: This offseason, I’ve been working on dribbling. That’s something I really didn’t know how to do at all. I already know how to play off the ball, that’s the easy part. I’ve been taking time to learn how to put moves together, combo things, get open. I’m not used to that, having the ball in my hands.
Q: Are you guys enjoying 2K20 so far? Do you think the league build gameplay will look drastically different from last year’s play?
Yusuf: I’m very interested to see the league build if it’ll be based on Patch 1, or whether or not it’ll be based on how the gameplay is right now. I feel like it can change how the Draft will go. 2K20 is definitely offensive-minded. They’ll probably be more high-scoring games. 2K19 was more of a defensive game.
Q: Talk a bit about how strong the Kings Guard Gaming chemistry is off the sticks? Do you rate chemistry as being critically important for the organization’s success?
BallLikeSeem: Off the court chemistry, that means a lot. I lived with Colt, and Yusuf and I lived together. It’s nothing but good vibes. You follow me on Instagram, you see me posting a lot of us having fun, and that translates on the court. We’re always joking around. Obviously we’re serious about winning, but we’ll have our little jokes in the game. That off the court chemistry means a lot. We have fun together.
Yusuf: It’s really important. We play basketball together off the court and we work on the little things. Off the court stuff helps build a bond that creates trust. Once we get on the court, that trust is shown. Making the extra pass, maybe someone would otherwise be hesitant in a certain situation.
Q: Watching KGG players like Colt last season, you’re not shy about being passionate on the stage. Do you guys value the vocalization element of playing in the NBA 2K League? Is trash talk a big part of your game or do you try to find a balance between playing and getting inside an opponent’s head?
Yusuf: I smack talk a little bit. It depends on the opponent. I’ll do it to rookies more. I’ll pick and choose. I can’t smack talk Radiant because it won’t affect him. For example, my first game last season was against Grizz Gaming, and I was playing against the pick-and-roll defense. I feel like I was in Vandi’s head, getting blocked shots and steals and talking smack. It ends up working sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. You have to plan it out though, especially with all the new PGs that may be drafted this year. I plan on smack talking them, rattle them, show them what the stage is like (laughs). Give them a warm 2K League welcome.
Q: Can you guys recall any favorite Draft Day memories?
Yusuf: Getting drafted both years was an honor. The Kings took a chance on me. The first year, I lived in my hometown. The second year, I lived in Sacramento, very far from home. When I got drafted, I got picked very late and I’ll never forget it. It was a sigh of relief. They only picked 75 out of a large pool, so it was a relief. I hugged my parents. In my heart, I was so happy. I think Season 2 for me was more of a moment than Season 1 was.
BallLikeSeem: It’s like, wow I got drafted, I get to play a game for a living. Growing up as a kid, I lived on the east coast and I was like, one day when I get older, I’m gonna live in Cali. And look at me now? I’m living in California. It’s surreal.
Q: Does it ever floor you that you get to play 2K for a living with the NBA? What does life look like for you after the league, or is esports what you want to do for the long haul?
BallLikeSeem: It’s a blessing for me. I was a freshman in school and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I went to school just to go. I kept switching majors. But when the league was announced, and I made it, I found a way to get some money and connections. School was always about making connections for me so once you graduated, you could get a job. But making the league, I’m making connections and money. In the future, I do have plans to go back and finish school one day. That’s very important to me and my family. But right now, I’m riding the league and doing the best I can, trying to win as much money as I can and have the most fun I can.
Yusuf: Career-wise, I graduated from three different schools. I’m a little older than Seem, but I don’t plan on retiring from the league any time soon. I’m trying to get as many seasons in as possible. I do have a backup plan. Right now I work at a bank. I’m excited though, I want to make as much money as I can. Working with the Kings, I feel like an NBA player going to the facility every day. It’s a dream come true. I count my blessings every day.