We started with the top of the lottery in part 1, let’s now look at the back half of that group or as I like to call them, The Bubble Teams! Teams that are right on the cusp on playoff contention, but just couldn’t get over that final hump into the playoffs. These teams are packed with talent, but will need to make some big moves this offseason to get into that next tier. Check out Part 1 here.
(7-9, 16th seed)
A popular pick to take “the leap” to a full-fledged title contender before the season started, Magic Gaming never really met those expectations. Reizey was less efficient as compared to his stellar rookie season (63 TS% as compared to 68 TS%), DT missed a chunk of the season that seemed to hurt his rhythm, Profusion and ToxSiK lacked a little punch on the wing (combining for 14 PPG) and it took May a while to really gel with this team and with the new league build. Season 3 just didn’t work out, especially on offense. Teams bore down on Reizey and forced him to score through double teams. But, there is still plenty of talent on this team and with that, plenty of hope for Season 4.
Most Important Player: Reizey
Reizey is the best player on this team. By himself, Reizey dropped in 25.5 PPG, 6.9 APG on 63 TS%, but compared to what other top PGs put up, it just didn’t keep up. Watching their games, the mud and grit that Reizey had to fight through just to score was tough to see. There just weren’t enough scoring threats around him to take off pressure and his stats, shooting especially, suffered accordingly. With a coach like Jonah Edwards, I think he knows exactly what he needs to do to improve this team.
Offseason Needs: Wings baby!
Magic Gaming announced their retainment of Reizey, DT, and May which leaves them with a gaping hole on the wing. They tried it last season with Profusion, but I would expect Magic Gaming to pick up someone who can also handle the ball a fair amount. I keep bringing up the Malik/Duck combo (see below), but there’s a case to be made that that style could be the future of the league — two dynamic ball-handlers that can make plays or score at will and play off each other. I think Magic Gaming are set up perfectly for something like this, but we’ll see if they can find the right player for that spot.
Retained Players: Reizey, DT, May
A good core 3 with a lot of upside, but their offseason needs stay the same. Wings baby!
(7-9, 15th seed)
It was a rebuilding season for Knicks Gaming and it had that vibe all season long. They were hunting for some real long-term pieces and they now have plenty. Original_Malik has developed into one of the most lethal offensive players in the league and made quite the backcourt with No. 2 overall pick, Duck. They were the highlight this season for this squad, but PF EhTruth also played incredibly well. This team, however, had some real defensive issues that they just couldn’t figure out. Regardless, this season went about how people thought. For a team that was trying to find elite young talent, they certainly found a couple great pieces.
Most Important Player: Malik
Talk about a massive step forward! He stopped turning the ball over, started taking better shots, and became one of the best offensive players in the league. His 3-point shooting took a big jump from 42% to 48% and his TS% jumped from 59.6 to 68.9. That’s real development from a player who always had a huge ceiling and still has room to grow. His APG also jumped up to 4.43 a game, a number which I would love to see take another leap next season. He’s becoming a true combo guard and one of the most unique players the league has.
Offseason Needs: Wing/Big
This team needs to prioritize defense. Period. End of story. Something has to give or teams are going to continue to give them problems defensively.
Retained Players: Duck, Malik
A little surprising for Knicks Gaming to not bring back Truth or Rob, but maybe they will after the Expansion Draft. Duck and Malik proved to be one of the league’s premier backcourts, but the team defense left a lot to be desired. This team needs a fresh set of bigs heading into Season 4.
(7-9, 14th seed)
Starting the season 0-4 was a huge hole to climb out of and with how competitive the league was this season, and the Grizz paid the price for that slow start. They had serious issues on the perimeter and only shot 45.3% from 3 as a team, one of the lowest numbers in the league. The AuthenticAfrican experiment at lock had mixed reviews, not necessarily from his individual play, but they clearly missed his scoring on the offensive side of the ball. G O O F Y 7 5 7 had another Goofy-esque season, but it took a lot of time for this team to gel. Same thing applied to Vandi who took a few weeks to really get going. This team’s engine really started to kick into gear towards the end of the season, but they just didn’t have the juice offensively to get over the hump. This team still has a great core in Vandi, AA, and GOOFY, but they are going to need to make some changes on the perimeter to make it to the next level.
Most Important Player: Vandi
Vandi cemented himself as one of the best PGs in the league this season. 30.8/7.7 on 66.7 TS% is pretty stellar considering he started the season with some lesser shooting and turnover numbers. While his raw stats are impressive, this is the 2nd straight year where he started off slowly and, therefore, the team started slowly as well. Vandi may have as much talent as any PG in the league, as witnessed by his peaks that are so wildly impressive. His nickname “the Great Vandini” wasn’t earned by accident, he’s a truly special player, but we just need to see it all the time. This separates the good players from the great players. He made another leap this season, but he’s going to have to make another one if the Grizz want to make the playoffs next season.
Offseason Needs: Wings
It’s time to give Vandi a serious running mate on the wing. They’ve tried the JROD experiment at sharp the past two seasons and he’s averaged 8.1 PPG on 63.9 TS%, but compared to the other top sharps in the league, it leaves a bit to be desired. Getting Vandi a true No. 2 option should be the complete focus in the offseason for Grizz Gaming, as it will undoubtedly be the difference between playoffs and another early exit. Getting a blue-chip player in GOOFY last offseason was a good, yet expensive, move, but it’s now time to get a star on the wing that can get Grizz Gaming over the hump.
Retained Players: Vandi, AuthenticAfrican, GOOFY 757
As expected! No big surprises here for Grizz Gaming and no changes to their offseason needs. Wings, wings, and more wings. I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted 3 of them, but it should be noted that they don’t have a 1st round pick this season due to the GOOFY trade.
Hawks Talon GC
(7-9, 13th seed)
We said this team was going to live and die by BP and that’s exactly what they did. Bp had just an up-and-down season by his lofty standards and it explains almost everything for why Hawks Talon went 7-9. Bp had 26.4 PPG, 7.8 APG, 1.5 SPG on 67.8 TS%. Not BAD by any means, but just not quite what Hawks Talon needed. They made a late run and looked pretty good in THE TICKET, but they just didn’t have enough firepower. On the positive side, Lee ended up making the All-Rookie team despite the 1st round pick being overlooked after the Draft. He ended up being a really good player on both ends and finished 2nd in the entire league in FG%. Whether that was just playing next to BP or not, he was the center that they needed and was a big part of their late season resurgence. Kel was solid for them on the wing as well, but cooled off as the season went on. Hawks Talon had a better team than they did last year, which was a goal we laid out for them last year, but they just didn’t have that spark to take them over the edge and into the playoffs.
Most Important Player: Bp
Bp was definitely the best player on the team and when he was good, he was incredible. He had some stretches this season where he averaged 30 & 9 and was single-handedly earning Ws. He injured his hand in the middle of the season and it may have affected his play a bit, but all in all for Bp, it wasn’t quite the season he had with Kings Guard Gaming last season. You can chock it up to multiple things, but they all lead back to the same final result.
Offseason Needs: What kind of team do you want?
It’s a bit of a cop-out, but this is a real question. What kind of team do you want to build around Bp? Hawks Talon felt like they were playing a few different styles at times this season and it caused a lot of inconsistency. Do they want a secondary ball-handler? Do they want to run a primary pick-and-roll offense? Is it just a ton of iso with BP? How do they move forward defensively next to Lee? The addition of a blue-chip sharpshooter could be one direction they go, but this team has a lot of questions to answer heading into the offseason.
Retained Players: BP, Kel, Lee
Hawks Talon GC retained their three best players from last season which is never a bad option. Many questions still remain for this team, but having a PG and Center combo like BP/Lee and a sharp like Kel is a good place to start, but there are more moves to come.
(7-9, 12th seed)
The 0-6 start just ended up being too big of a hill to climb for the Season 2 runner ups, and despite a great 7-3 finish, they just didn’t have enough firepower to get passed Blazer5 Gaming in THE TICKET. A lack of tournament success was also very un-76ersGC like as well, but let’s just chalk it up to a down year for one of the best franchises the league has to offer. The good news is this team still has a pretty stellar core to build around. Radiant remains one of the best players in the world, Steez looked great when he moved to lock mid-season and Breadwinner is still one of the best bigs in the league.
Most Important Player: Radiant
He may not be voted the No. 1 player in the #Glitchy25 after this season, but he rebounded in the 2nd half and was about as good as any player in the league during their 7-3 streak. He finished with 30.7 ppg, 7.0 apg with a 67.2 TS%. That’s not as efficient as in years passed, but when you finish 6th in the entire league in FGA per game, it’s tough to stay within the margins. You could still argue that he’d go No. 1 in any league re-draft, but regardless 76ersGC has a superstar to build around for years to come.
Offseason Needs: Lineup Consistency, Wing, PF
It’s a bit difficult to know what 76ersGC is going to do this offseason without knowing how they want to arrange their lineup for next season. The swing player is Steez, as him playing lock in Season 4 would allow Breadwinner to play at Center and keep the hole at PF or him moving back to Center would move Breadwinner likely back to PF and open a hole at lock. Either way, 76ersGC is in big need of a 2-way wing to complement their other guys and bring back the 2-way element that Newdini had in Season 1 & 2.
Retained Players: Radiant, Steez, Breadwinner
Same 3 guys retained as last season, but no Scretty for the 2nd straight offseason. I wonder if this time around they are going find a new sharp to put next to Radiant, it’ll be interesting to see if they think Scretty is worth giving up a lottery pick to retain. A PG, lock, Center combo is always good to build around, but their lottery pick this year could be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs in Season 4.
(8-8, 11th seed)
T-Wolves Gaming just couldn’t find that same magic from the season before and it showed most on offense. BearDaBeast had a very good Finals MVP defense campaign, but the rest of the offense stagnated. JMoney, Big Saint, and Jojo combined for only 27 PPG and under 50% shooting, and moving JMoney to PG saw them drop three of their next four before Bear was moved back to the lead spot. All three are very good 2K players, but something just felt like it was missing this season. The bright spot of this team, as he would be for any team, was Feast. He had easily the best season of his career so far, cementing himself as an elite center and one of the best 2K players in the world. He was arguably the most impactful defensive big man in Season 3 and has become a foundational asset for this team. T-Wolves Gaming have a ton of potential heading into Season 4, but they have plenty of things to work out this offseason.
Most Important Player: Feast
Feast was an animal this season — 12.7 PPG, 14.3 RPG, 1,9 SPG, 2.0 BPG, and the 13th best PIE in the league at 28.3. His evolution as a full-time center this season was excellent to watch as his pick-and-roll defense improved from very good to best in the league by season’s end. It’s always great when elite players find ways to get even better and that was Feast this season. If him and Bear can continue to improve their offensive chemistry, the sky is the limit for this team…again. Winning the Sportsmanship award for the 2nd-straight year is a nice feather in the cap as well.
Offseason Needs: What kind of team do you want?
This team had a bit of an identity crisis this season. Sometimes they wanted to run with a convention sharp and run pick and roll, other times they wanted to run with two ball handlers, other times they played a ton of iso ball with Bear and JMoney. None of these strategies were bad, but they never quite blended together. This felt like a team that could’ve benefitted from a secondary creator next to Bear. JMoney and even Feast weren’t the distributors that we saw during their title run, and defensively they didn’t have the same bite as last year and couldn’t get those key stops they needed to. They have an amazing core, arguably as good as any team in the league, but they need to clear up how they want to play and direct all their energy on that style.
Retained Players: Bear, Feast, Jmoney
Same 3 as last season, but it’s unlikely they get a player drafted in the Expansion Draft this season like Turunupdefense did. This team will have a lottery pick to nab another defensive-minded player, abd don’t discount them picking Big Saint back up later in the draft as well. Still, Bear, Feast, and JMoney is an amazing core of talent to build around.