Reddit Recap: Monumental Sports & Entertainment NBA 2K League AMA Summary

On Monday the NBA 2K subreddit hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Grant Paranjape, Director of esports for Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), and Zach Leonsis, Senior VP and General Manager of Monumental Sports Network, about the NBA 2K League. Together they’re the esports team behind MSE and will be launching the Washington Wizards 2K team later this year.

Monumental Sports Esports AMA. Courtesy of Keiranthil via Twitter.

Many behind the scenes efforts are in preparation for the upcoming NBA 2K league. Paranjape and Leonsis shared more details by answering the community’s questions on Reddit. We have a little more insight about how it works. The NBA 2K League is still a work in progress. There are questions that remain ‘To Be Determined’ until further notice.

I highlight the key points in the AMA for readers interested in the NBA 2K League. Click here to read the entire AMA from Reddit.

Reddit AMA Summary

Central Studio

“The studio will completely equipped for players to play in, you will not have to provide your own console. Having everything played out of a central studio ensures that nothing will get in the way of creating the most competitive environment for the players as possible.” -Paranjape

Teams will travel to a central studio to play their games. The games are played in an environment with perfect connectivity.

Season Schedule

“The season will run the course of the entire summer (May-August) with regular season games, interjecting tournaments, and playoffs (and) finals.” -Paranjape

The number of games in a season is ‘To Be Determined’. Tournaments and playoffs are two different events.

Player Salary

“Not a bad question at all, teams will be providing housing + travel and it will not be the players’ responsibilities. From a team perspective, as well as my experience in esports, the salary is very competitive for a relatively new esports title and is enough to be considered a full time careers.” -Paranjape

Their competitive salary also includes benefits such as housing and healthcare. They also have the potential to earn more with tournaments and playoffs.

Training Regimen

“Different teams are pursuing different strategies, for our team we’re planning on hiring a coach, as well as potentially an additional analyst role. In terms of training days, everyday is a training day! But in all seriousness, there will be a set regiment that players will be responsible for following, under the guidance of the team manager & coach.” -Paranjape

Anthony Muraco, Esports Manager for the Dallas Mavericks, has already made plans for his team. Expect over 40 hours a week minimum with a combination of training, streaming, diet, and exercise regiment.

Selection Process

“I think there is no question that it is an extremely selective process (the numbers tell that story on its own). However, the reason it is so selective is to truly find the best 85 NBA2k players. Social following and exposure will not be the main factors that determine eligibility in the draft, we’re looking for the best players in game, period.” -Paranjape

Every team’s first shot in the selection process. There isn’t going to be a bias towards YouTube content creators based on their popularity.

Age Requirement

“Only players that are 18 or older will be eligible for the NBA 2k League draft.” -Leonsis

Draft will start in March. Keep playing kids.

Take-Two’s Tryout Mode

“Take-Two is developing a new tryout mode that will be released closer to the Spring, where all players are able to participate in a format that ensures that all players try out on an even playing field. The mode will ensure that we see a players’ true skill level, without attribute enhancements earned from previous gameplay.” -Leonsis

Tryouts will start in February. Anyone with a copy of 2K will be able to participate from all platforms.

Qualities In A Player

“Besides skill, we also want to draft players that show great leadership ability, strong work ethic, and an ability to compliment teammates. Chemistry will be critical to team success, so we will seek team-oriented players. It also doesn’t hurt to have a positive presence on social accounts. We want players who are positive representations of the team and our larger organization. When you’re drafted by our team, you no longer simply represent yourself, you also represent us!” -Leonsis

Players are employed by the NBA. Therefore you have to be professional and represent yourself accordingly.

Grassroots Marketing

“I think that is where a lot of the grassroots activations for the 2k league come into play. You’ll have teams hosting viewing parties, or side tournaments, where a lot of just fans of the game can come out and interact in really cool ways (and get a ton of awesome swag!)” -Paranjape

Brendan Donohue has mention in previous interviews how they want to incorporate grassroots events to build a fan base. Players interacting with their fans are their own celebrities.

Developing A Following

“In terms of growing a following in general however, I would say its all about creating interesting content. Whether its educational, in-depth breakdowns, scrimmage reviews, finding a way to set your content apart from all of the others is the best way to begin to grow a following on social.” -Paranjape

There’s opportunities to receive endorsements because of their social media presence. Players also work with league sponsors as well.

Personal Dedication

“I would say dedicate as much time as it takes for you to be the very best at the game as you can be. We definitely don’t want to put anyone in a difficult situation (IE they drop out of school/quit work and don’t make the draft), but at the same time there are always sacrifices to pursue your passions. I would say make decisions that put you on the path to where you want to be, while also having a solid backup plan.” -Paranjape

Please understand your situation before taking any risks. Always have a backup plan!

Potential Coaching Staff

“Given how new the 2k esports scene, we would be looking for mostly experience coaching in traditional sports and how you would be able to apply those fundamentals and beliefs to our 2k team!” -Paranjape

Team structure hasn’t finalized. Interested in traditional sports coaching translating to an esports team.

Manager’s Role

“I think managers play a huge role in players’ lives, especially when teams are living in a team house. Managers help settle disputes (you ate all the chips…) , make sure players have what they need, schedule scrims etc. I think the best managers are the ones who are able to empathize with players, but also garner the respect necessary to create a truly competitive environment.” -Paranjape

Managers are important for any esports team house. They cultivate a positive and fun culture that results in winning.

 

Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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Beats, rhymes and life: NBA 2K18 soundtrack

Music has been apart of the NBA 2K series and basketball video games from the beginning. In fact, the cover of NBA 2K13 marketed the game as ‘Executive Produced By Jay-Z’. Two years later with NBA 2K15 the cover had ‘Music Curated By Pharrell Williams’. Not only in 2K where music is significant but it’s part of the basketball culture. Over the years the NBA 2K series has featured a library of songs and each year has more songs than the last. NBA 2K18 is no different and its music helps shape our experience with the game.

NBA 2K18 soundtrack

There are 50 songs in the NBA 2K18 soundtrack and many songs are from different genres. From Kendrick Lamar to Def Leppard to hip-hop songs in different languages, the playlist is very diverse. The soundtrack should have something for everyone, especially to hip-hop fans. There’s a lot of songs in different eras of hip-hop’s evolution. I grew up to a few of these songs such as ‘Nas Is Like’ and ‘They Reminisce Over You’ from the short but sweet NBA Street Vol. 2 soundtrack.

NBA 2K18 incorporates music into MyCareer when Doc’s Barber Shop gifts you headphones. The headphones alternate between in-game sounds and the soundtrack when you wear them. You could even buy different styles of headphones in-game to give yours more personality. From the arena music to strolling around the neighborhood, music is everywhere. You can also find the official NBA 2K18 soundtrack playlist on Spotify.

Here is the NBA 2K18 Soundtrack:

Basketball And music

Music is an important part of basketball culture on and off the court. In television you often see NBA players walk into the arena listening to music in their headphones. Often rappers want to be NBA stars and NBA stars want to be rappers. The crossover between two different worlds have been seen by Kobe and Shaq to name a few. However the most successful NBA star turned rapper, that can do both, is Damian Lillard. He has two songs with one being exclusive in the NBA 2K18 soundtrack.

Lillard recently released his second album, Confirmed, under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A. The album has popular artists as features including Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and BJ the Chicago Kid. Music is an important outlet for Lillard because it influenced him at an early age where he began to start writing songs. So much that 2K18 featured Lillard inside the JBL Studio in MyCareer where you can use the beat machine to create instrumentals.

Here is Damian Lillard on the NBA 2K18 experience and his passion for music:

Relationship with music

Basketball and music share a special relationship together. Music takes you to a different place and changes how you feel. In many areas music is an important aspect of everyone’s life where it’s almost ritualistic. Many of us grew up listening to a lot of music and it became apart of our life in some way. Whether it’s from basketball to studying for your exam, music has a place everywhere around us. I want to ask what songs have you been listening to lately? What is your favorite song from the NBA 2K18 soundtrack? Feel free to share your comments.

 

Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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Harden

Will the woes continue for James Harden this postseason

Last year, James Harden and the Houston Rockets found themselves eliminated from the playoffs in the conference semifinals.

Harden has impressed fans with his strength, ferocious step back and ability to get to the basket from anywhere. However, critics have constantly questioned Harden’s defensive ability and effort in the postseason.

During the 2016-17 postseason, it seemed as if Harden ran out of gas or had an out of body experience.

The former Arizona Sun Devil averaged 29 points in his last two NBA seasons. Last season the Rockets brought in former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, who is an offensive genius.

The addition of D’Antoni was a great pick up, however, in the NBA you have to be able to play defense. Let’s not forget the Rockets are in the Western Conference, where they’re multiple offensive powerhouses.

Last season the team averaged 115 points and 25 assists per game. The 2016-17 Rockets could score on anyone and they seemed to be a favorite in the West.

What seemed to be a promising season came to an end after the team choked against the San Antonio Spurs, who lost Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker due to injury.

Every team in the league has a leader or a closer. On paper Harden is the designated leader of the team, but the results of the last two postseasons have caused people to wonder. Since the left-handed guard was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009, the guard has displayed offensive brilliance.

James Harden

Dan Lippitt getty images

Postseason woes

But, come postseason the beard tends to pull a scene from “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” During the 2012 NBA Finals, the five-time All-Star averaged 12.4 points which is good considering that it was only his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-5 guard received a bunch of criticism for choking in the Finals. During the 2012 summer of free agency, the Thunder opted to let Harden walk, which led to him sign with the Houston Rockets.

Now let’s fast forward to the 2015-16 postseason where the Rockets were eliminated in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. Per usual, Harden had an impressive stat line that could fool anyone, but if you watched the series, the three-time All-NBA first team guard struggled.

It seemed liked Harden didn’t want to be on the floor or that the spotlight was too bright. During the series, the California native made poor defensive reads, and passed off on open shots, but that’s normal, I guess.

Solid roster

The Rockets had a well-balanced roster during the 2015-16 season. The roster consisted of James Harden, Dwight Howard, Michael Beasley, Trevor Ariza, Marcus Thorton, Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones, Corey Brewer, Clint Capela, Josh Smith and Donatas Motiejunas.

In addition to the primary rotation, the team also had Jason Terry, Ty Lawson, Montrezel Harrell, Andrew Goudelock, K.J. McDaniels, Chuck Hayes and Sam Dekker. In 2015, the team was coached by Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, who recently expressed that his former star player was not a leader.

Rumors spread that Harden and Howard did not get along and that it caused a rift in the locker room. At the end of the season, Howard ended up signing with the Atlanta Hawks. Leadership reflects attitude and the beard lacks leadership at times.

Fast forward to the 2016-17 season where D’Antoni made the decision to switch the former Sun Devil to point guard. The decision seemed irrational at first, but when you think about it, Harden already has the ball in his hands more than 50 percent of the time.

Western Conference finals or bust

In the second round, the Rockets faced the depleted Spurs. The series seemed all but won for the Rockets.

Although the red carpet was rolled out for Houston, the team failed to rally together. The former OKC guard seemed gazed, confused, lost and tired. Now everyone could blame D’Antoni for switching him to the one.

James Harden

Bob Levey via getty images

If you are the Rockets coaching staff, you were excited with the numbers that Harden put up points and assists wise.

Some fans may find themselves asking if it is fair to give Harden the majority of the blame. With last season in the past, Houston has something to look forward to.

On June 28, 2017 the Rockets acquired Chris Paul and sent Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Now that Houston has a true point guard, there is no excuse for 28-year-old. CP3 brings leadership, dedication and grit to the Rockets.

Last season Paul averaged 18 points, nine assists and two steals. The former Clipper will mesh well with head coach D’Antoni. Harden’s new four-year, $228M extension should be enough motivation to show up come postseason.

If Houston doesn’t make it out of the second round of the playoffs, Harden’s legacy and brand could be affected.

 

Featured image taken by Bruce Hillyer

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 Eastern Conference predictions: 76ers and Celtics

With what feels like the most compelling offseason in NBA history, there will be no lack of storylines to follow this season. There is a ton of grey area when it comes to how things are going to shape up in the Eastern Conference so here are two bold predictions for the East this season.

Philadelphia 76ers make the playoffs

2017 Eastern Conference predictions: 76ers Celtics

(MetroUS)

Trust the process has been the motto in Philly for what feels like an eternity and fans in the area haven’t seen a winning product since the 2011-2012 season where they made it to the conference semi-finals. Since then there has not been any hope or optimism surrounding the franchise besides receiving the number one pick a few a times, but this year feels much different.

The 76ers have been plagued with injuries and mismanagement for five seasons but the process is finally coming to fruition. With what seems to be a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons the world will be able to see how this team of high picks will be able to play together. There have been reports of minutes restriction for Embiid but for this case were assuming he will start.

Being in the Eastern Conference gives this young team a chance to be in contention for a playoff spot and they’re going to sneak into the eight or seven spot. With players like Dario Saric and Robert Covington stepping up last season and the influx of the young guns like Fultz, Simmons and Embiid, this team is much more interesting.

After finishing in the bottom of the barrel last season, they have a chance to completely turn around the entire identity of the franchise. Adding free agents like J.J. Reddick and Amir Johnson brings important veteran leadership to one of the youngest teams in the league that will have a huge impact on them moving forward.

With many teams in the Eastern Conference getting worse like the Pacers, Knicks, Bulls and of course the Nets, there is no reason to think that the 76ers don’t have a shot to make the playoffs this season and finally give Philly fans something to be proud of.

Celtics No. 1 seed again

2017 Eastern Conference predictions: 76ers Celtics

(Sporting News)

After the blockbuster trades and the huge free agent signings, the Celtics are poised to be one of the top dogs of the Eastern Conference. After the Celtics managed to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, they are in an even better position to repeat that this year as well.

There are only three other teams that are in the discussion for the No. 1 seed: The Cavaliers, Raptors and Wizards. The reason  the Celtics have the best chance is simple. They got better while everyone else more or less stayed the same besides the Cavs.

The reason the Cavs won’t be able to win the Eastern Conference this season is because the injuries to Isaiah Thomas, and the fact that they really don’t care where they end up. I still think a fully healthy Cavaliers have the edge in playoffs against the Celtics, so they just don’t care whether they’re the first or second seed.

Don’t get me wrong, I would not be surprised if the Cavaliers still manage to get the one seed, but with Isaiah out until the All-Star break and the Cavaliers being one of the oldest teams in the league, they won’t be taking every game as seriously as other teams.

The Cavs basically want to get one of the top three seeds and will plan for the playoffs because the regular season is essentially a formality to them. Knowing LeBron, he will be looking to send a message when they play the top teams in the league but he won’t mind taking a few games off like he did last season.

Featured Image Courtesy of NBA.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Watch out for the Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are a team on the rise. They have built their team through previous drafts and now have added All-Star forward, Paul Millsap.

If the Nuggets were in the Eastern Conference, they would be getting a lot of attention. However in a loaded Western Conference they are overshadowed by already established talented teams.

What we have here is a team full of talent with an established leader looking to make it in a stacked Western Conference.

Emerging Talent

Denver Nuggets

Emmanuel Mudiay, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

As of this week, former Michigan State guard Gary Harris signed a four-year, $84 million contract extension. Harris has jumped into the starting shooting guard role for the Nuggets. He’s coming off his most efficient season in the league shooting 42 percent from three and 59 percent from the field overall. Averaging 14.9 points for the Nuggets, he is quickly turning into a consistent and lethal perimeter threat.

Nikola Jokic averaged nearly a double-double in 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 73 games for the Nuggets. His most interesting statistic is that he averages 4.9 assists showing that he can set the table for others as well as create for himself.

Emmanuel Mudiay has matured his game in the two years of him being in the NBA. He has dropped his turnovers per game from 3.2 to 2.2 in just a year. He has also increased his assists per game from 3.9 to 4.8 as well. These two statistics show that he isn’t forcing things and adapting to the speed of the NBA. He also managed to shoot 11.4 percent better from the free throw line. This makes him more valuable because he can be on the floor in close games without hurting the team.

Jamal Murray provided instant offense for the Nuggets. In 22 minutes a game, he averaged 9.9 points and shot 33 percent from three. As a combo guard he can help give some rest to both Mudiay and Harris if they need it without skipping a beat.

Incoming Help

Paul Millsap decided to join the Denver Nuggets this offseason. Millsap adds versatility, the ability to stretch the floor as well as handle the ball when he needs to.

Millsap provides a leader and a proven All-Star to a young team filled with talent. For his career, he is a near double-double player who thrives in pick and pop situations.

The Nuggets have lost their highest scorer from last season in Danilo Galinari and as they look to transition into a legitimate playoff team they are looking for a new leading scorer. Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic look to take back courts by storm and lead this young Nuggets team deep into the playoffs.

Previous Performances

There’s no doubt that the Nuggets have gotten better this summer. Paul Millsap helps a team that drastically needed a leader. The young talent has another year under their belt and the biggest strength of the Nuggets has proven to be their depth at power forward and center.

The Nuggets went 8-22 against Western Conference playoff teams last season. Last season they finished third in the NBA in scoring at 111 points per game.

However the problem came on the defensive end where it matters most. The Nuggets landed at 27th in the NBA in defensive points allowed.

They allowed 111.2 points per game which is less than their points for average. The Nuggets finished above the Lakers, Nets and Suns who all had much worse records than the Nuggets finished with. They were the third worst in defending the 3-point line and in an league where there are so many prolific shooters it could cost them important games down the stretch.

The solution here is Paul Millsap. Defending the paint and pick and rolls are vital to winning games in the NBA. Paul Millsap is very well known for doing both of those things. On a team that needs defensive help, Millsap will fit in seamlessly and pick the Nuggets up when they need it most.

The Denver Nuggets will be in a dogfight for what looks like the last few spots in the Western Conference. I like them to surprise some people and finish in the sixth spot coming out of the West. I think they have the talent and now have the leadership with Millsap. Look for the Nuggets to win around 48 wins and give a team a run for their money come playoff time.

 

Featured Image from Nugglove.com.

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The Price To Pay For VC In NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18 has been out for a month now. What’s the verdict? Critics gave positive reviews but there’s a lot of hate from players. If you’ve bought NBA 2K18, it’s hard to not notice how much bad feedback the game is getting since release. From Steam to Reddit the complaints don’t just stop there. Every new post from social media has people instantly replying “Fix your game”. People have already named NBA 2K18 the worst 2K in recent years.

The 2K series has been the best basketball simulation video game for almost two decades. We have seen in recent years 2K taking two steps forward but one step back. There hasn’t been any 2K that’s getting the backlash that 2K18 is getting. Every day consists a constant flow of negativity and a lot of complaints from the community. However if there’s an uproar in the community then there has to be some merit in their argument.

NBA 2K18 Steam Reviews

User reviews are important in any game because it allows input from other players as long as they’re objective. It’s an interesting case when there’s a mass wave of unsatisfied customers. There are over 4,000 negative reviews on Steam and counting. Any positive review gets downvoted from being helpful. Let’s take a glimpse at a few of the ‘Most Helpful Reviews’:

“Disguisting p2w model in a full priced AAA game, broken and unfair rubberbanding gameplay and a bunch of technical issues. Frustrating on every level. DON’T BUY IT”

“AAA price tag for a game that has more pay-to-win microtransactions than 99% of mobile games. They’re probably going to charge you VC to be able to skip cutscenes in an upcoming patch too. ♥♥♥♥ you and this trash”

“What happened in My Carreer? This game is so expensive already and my career needs to pay to win! My career getting trash and trash every year!”

“Pay-to-win in a full price game”

“Pay to win. Enough said.”

What is VC?

VC store in MyCareer. Courtesy of Tito Sar.

The core of the hate comes from VC in MyCareer. VC stands for Virtual Currency and you can earn it in almost every game mode in 2K18. In MyCareer, you can buy attributes, animations, clothes and basically everything for your character with VC. There’s a VC store that’s a built-in menu screen for that convenience if and when you need more. You can buy your way from a 60 to a 86 overall right from the very beginning. Upgrading your character comes with the price of time, money, or both. MyCareer is the only game mode where VC directly affects your progress. Their marketing campaign pushes MyCareer more than any other game mode.

Microtransactions

YouTubers such as Boogie2988 has made a video about the microtransactions in 2K18. Boogie2988 said “I will spend money on microtransactions on those games. The reason being is because they charged me nothing to play the game. The barrier of entry was $0 and because I’ve enjoyed the game and continued to play it for years.” Those games being League of Legends and Hearthstone, for example, are free-to-play that have made microtransactions optional and balanced because there isn’t a price on the game to start with. NBA 2K18 is a $60 game that includes microtransactions that are enticing and unbalanced.

Usually games that are free or have a low barrier of entry tend to have microtransactions by default. A problem with NBA 2K18 is that it’s a AAA title that have microtransactions that cost more than the game itself. You’re already paying for a $60 game that should be complete. The VC store has microtransactions purchasable for up to $100 in a menu that you can find similar on any mobile game. For example you can spend $160 total on a game that will become obsolete around September 2018 when 2K19 is released. That’s an expensive yearly subscription if want to look at it that way if you’re an avid 2K fan.

Grinding

Players who spent VC also have an advantage with attributes and their overall rating. You’re essentially paying to be better and rewards those who spend money. It has been noted that you would have to play over 200 season games to earn enough VC to get from 60 to 86. Another important factor is that if you made a new MyCareer character, you would have no VC or items carried over and basically start all over again. It discourages the freedom to create and experiment with different archetypes because you would’ve already invested a lot of hours already on your first character.

You don’t get a lot of VC for playing games. On average you get at least 500 VC per season game and at least 100 VC per MyPark game. Everything that’s purchasble by VC in-game cost well over in the thousands. For example an entire outfit can easily cost over 10,000 VC. You start as a 60 overall with 1,000 VC to begin with. It’s not a lot until you realize how much play time it would take to reach 70, 80, and 90. It will cost you over 200,000 VC to max your stats right away. You either have to log a substantial amount of hours or use your credit card for VC.

How to fix VC?

NBA 2K18 can reward more VC earned. Double or triple the amount can make the grind much easier. We shouldn’t spend more money to put in the time we don’t have. As of now no one from their team has acknowledged the negative attention the game has been receiving from microtransactions but they have been able to fix VC glitches quietly. The only changes made were reduced haircut prices from a few thousand to 100 VC because you can lose your haircut if you’ve edited your player’s appearance. However if 2K Games is making more money using this model then they’ll continue to use it on future games.

Creating a fix for VC can encourage players to try out different archetypes and playstyles without having to put in a lot of time on other characters. You don’t have to buy VC but it’s certainly unfair how much of a disadvantage it is on how much time it actually takes. After several hours of grinding you’ll reach an ultimatum where buying VC can cut the grinding immensely. NBA 2K18 caters to a casual fanbase that shouldn’t make a game consume hundreds of hours. Right around the corner is NBA 2K19 and when it releases everyone has to start new and the cycle continues.

 

Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks 2017: Young core could lead to success

Last year, the Dallas Mavericks finished the season with a disappointing 33-49 record.

Since 2000, the Mavericks have only missed the playoffs twice. The team missed the postseason during the 2012-13 season and last year. Long-time Maverick Dirk Nowitzki has been battling against Father Time as he enters his 20th season in the league.

In the last couple of seasons, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle has been trying to figure out what’s next. As far as owner Mark Cuban goes, you already know what to expect.

Cuban enters every summer with the hopes of signing a big name free agent. In 2015, Cuban was a signature away from acquiring Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. However, the center would change his mind and resign with the Clippers.

In 2016, the Mavs were able to sign Harrison Barnes to a four-year, $94M max deal that some still question to this day. Over the years, the team has signed Seth Curry, released Deron Williams, traded for Nerlens Noel and recently resigned him to a one-year deal.

The team also signed Yogi Ferrell, who provided a huge spark for the team despite an unfavorable season. With all that in mind, Cuban and the Mavs struck gold when they drafted Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft.

Despite the past two years, the Mavericks have been slowly rebuilding their roster. Now the franchise may not make the playoffs for the next few years, but the pieces are falling into place.

Image result for Dennis Smith

Garrett Ellwood via Getty Image

Last year Barnes led the team with 19.2 points per game. The team as a whole averaged 97.9 points per game which is a 2.3 point difference from their championship team in 2011.

If the Mavericks are going to move forward and start to look at life past Nowitzki, they need to consider handing the reigns over to Smith Jr. Now the 6-foot-3 guard has only played in the summer league and in a few preseason games.

With four preseason games under his belt, Smith Jr. is averaging 11.5 points, three rebounds and three assists. Now some of you may say it is only preseason, but at least he is getting some bump against top competition.

When you think about it, the last four championship teams all had solid point guards. The last four champions included Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving and Tony Parker.

Dennis Smith Jr. isn’t going to simply take over the franchise. However, long-time Mav Nowitzki will probably take Smith Jr. under his wing and show him the ropes.

Some key players returning from last year include Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel, Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dwight Powell and J.J. Barea. Key departures include Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut.

This season, the Mavs have depth at point guard which is never a bad thing. Depending on Curry’s injury, the team may use multiple backcourt combinations to help relieve Matthews. Although this year’s team may lack experience, they should make up for it in team chemistry.

What’s Next?

During the 2016-17 season only Barnes, Nowitzki, Matthews, Williams, Curry, Ferrell and Barea averaged more than 10 points per game. In order to compete in the West, the bench has to provide more points and instant offense.

Image result for Dirk Nowitzki 2017

Ronald Martinez via Getty Images

In the 2015-16 season, the team averaged 102 points per game which is a four-point difference from last year’s average. During the 2015-16 season, the Mavs also had more production from their bench.

If Cuban wants to see his team compete for a spot in the playoffs, the coaching staff has to make sure that their players remain healthy. That is easier said than done, but management should consider bringing in a stretch guard or forward to help space the floor.

This season, Nowitzki will probably play fewer minutes. Last year, Dirk led the team with 6.5 rebounds while only playing 26 minutes per game. Mavericks fans should expect to see newly acquired forward Josh McRoberts and Powell step up in points, rebounds and blocks.

Both power forwards averaged above five points and three rebounds. With the possibility of Nowitzki retiring after this season, Carlisle needs to start looking for the team’s future.

Looking at Western Conference and the heightened level of competition, it’s unlikely that the team will make it into the playoffs. With the current roster, the future looks bright, but the team still needs to address the bench.

Throughout this season, Cuban needs to figure out who will take the reins. Do they need another superstar or do they build around Barnes?

Bold Prediction: The Dallas Mavericks will miss the playoffs by two games. Let us know what you think and how the Mavs will end the season.

 

Featured image taken by Awsocute 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

The good, the bad and the ugly: MyCareer as a PC player in NBA 2K18

PC players are definitely the minority of players within the 2K community. The PC port is undeniably less popular than the other versions of the game. According to Steam Charts, there are an average of 11,566 PC players since the game’s release in September. Most of the 2K community unanimously resides on the Playstation 4 console. Our reasons as PC players are that we don’t own a console or we prefer the single player experience or we just don’t care.

The most coveted game mode in NBA 2K18 by far is MyCareer. You begin in an area called ‘The Neighborhood’ where your first thought is Grand Theft Auto’s open world but with basketball. This is where you begin your NBA career. MyCareer encompasses both MyPark and Pro-Am inside its world. Both are the main competitive modes of the game. Playing with CPU and other players as teammates/opponents was both fun and frustrating. The game certainly wasn’t easy the entire way. I can say my journey in the NBA was rough around the edges.

The good

Snapshot of my MyCareer player. Courtesy of Tito Sar.

NBA 2K18 is a lot of fun. I’ve played this game a lot, with around 200 hours worth on record. Most hours were spent playing MyCareer. I’ve played an entire season and participated in MyPark frequently. Playing with friends is enjoyable which makes for good laughs and jokes. I get a kick out of other players and how ridiculous most look. You can make friends in-game and run a few games together too. If you really enjoy the NBA and the game of basketball it’s hard not to have fun.

Playing season games is fun because of how your player’s strength benefits playing as a team. The actual gameplay of basketball feels reminiscent of years past. There is a lot of depth into the gameplay that shows the balance between every player’s archetypes. I may be in the minority but I do miss a few of the cut-scenes before and after the game. The cut-scenes gave me a sense of immersion that I really am in the NBA, but plays off on its humor entirely.

The bad

Empty Pro-Am arena. Courtesy of Tito Sar.

NBA 2K18 has a lot of bugs. Times where my character will spawn into a ghost town after using the subway to go to MyPark. Other times where my game will crash if I didn’t mute my teammates in my squad. The game will also randomly crash after MyPark games and the list goes on if you can already tell. The gameplay isn’t perfect. Sometimes you can’t make wide open layups. The shot meter isn’t accurate either because a slightly early release is better than a good release. These bugs aren’t being addressed and causes players including from console versions to lash out at 2K on social media as well.

There’s a small community of people that play MyPark or Pro-Am in general. I still haven’t played a Pro-Am game via walk-on because there isn’t a Pro-Am scene that I know of. I’ve been told it’s still bugged. You’ll eventually play with the same people that are the regulars at MyPark. It’s disappointing to pay the same price as console versions for an abandoned PC port. I can’t imagine how many people will still play several months from now. There isn’t an incentive to play on PC if you plan on playing multiplayer.

The ugly

Hackers already managed to get 99 overall. Courtesy of Tito Sar.

NBA 2K18 has a lot of cheaters and exploiters. They have been around in previous years of 2K and remain prevalent now. There’s already 99 overall players around yet it’s barely October. The chances there’s a legitimate 99 is slim to none. Another exploit I’ve seen is farming experience in the Gatorade Training Facility where I’ve seen a player do dumbbell flyes for weeks. People are finding different ways to get to 99 because of the grueling grind. This ruins the experience of others, including myself.

A few players from the Steam Discussion forums have recently reported that there are players using speed hacks. Meaning they have a 99 rating in more than a few attributes. However, the 2K PC community isn’t surprised because they’re all used to this behavior. Players who play 2K on PC every year comment that the developers never had an anti-cheat system in place. Many warn others about the PC port’s problems regarding cheaters, and to get the console version instead if possible.

In conclusion

I enjoy NBA 2K18’s MyCareer. This game has its strengths and fair share of weaknesses. I don’t regret my purchase at all because I knew what I was getting myself into. If you’re looking for a single player experience then PC is for you. MyLeague and MyTeam are really fun and you should try it if you haven’t. Otherwise if you’re looking for a more competitive scene or a complete experience, like me, then console is for you. I will admit this is going to be my last year as a PC player. Soon I will join everyone else on Playstation 4!

 

Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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What the NBA 2K league needs to succeed

A lot of people were excited and surprised when the NBA and Take-Two Interactive announced their involvement in esports by creating the NBA 2K League earlier in February. It’s an ambitious effort to bring basketball as a legitimate esports game. However, the NBA isn’t new to the esports space. Many owners and players have invested into esports organizations over the past few years.

The NBA is an enormous business behind the game of basketball. If there is any league with the resources to contribute more to esports’ growth, it’s undoubtedly the NBA. But there are key factors the NBA needs to capitalize on in order to succeed with the NBA 2K League.

Twitch.tv broadcasting

Founded in 2011, Twitch is a live streaming video platform that caters to over 100 million gamers worldwide every month. It’s also the hub for most esports events. The NBA 2K League can collaborate with Twitch and have their games featured or sponsored on their home page. By doing this, it’ll bring viewership and engagement which is the exposure the league needs because it targets its ideal demographic. The average age of Twitch users is 21 with 68% being cord cutters.

Brendan Donahue, Marketing Director of the NBA 2K League, discussed in an interview with Gameswelt about “[having] a streaming and digital option certainly” and perhaps “a linear television partner.” One possibility is games can be presented through ESPN or TBS as they recently extended their television deals. Another possibility they could take would be to broadcast on NBA TV, but it’s hard to argue against streaming on Twitch.

Production value

Team introductions in ESL One New York 2016. Courtesy of ESL.

In correlation to Twitch or any broadcasting deals, the production value needs to be on par with their actual NBA games. Production value can make or break a broadcast. There are a few ideas to make the broadcast fun. Being interactive, engaging, and including the viewers into the game. Whether it be introductions, commentators, or audience participation, there’s a lot of

There are a few ideas to make the broadcast fun: being interactive, engaging and including the viewers into the game. Whether it be introductions, commentators or audience participation, there’s a lot of potential to create quality entertainment. It’s important to make viewers feel like they’re part of something special.

Notable examples of companies in esports that have mastered production value are ESL, MLG, and Blizzard Entertainment. Lighting, sound, scenery and props must be taken into account to provide the best presentation. They do a good job providing on-screen information to help viewers understand what they’re watching. If the production value is anything like the NBA, with inspiration taken from successful esports broadcasts, it’ll be a significant step in the right direction.

Developer involvement

Content creators gather at the NBA 2K18 #RunTheNeighborhood Event. Courtesy of Ronnie2K via Twitter.

An important aspect of video games is the communication between the developers and players within the community. Listening to players can build a healthy relationship and trust in their product. Building a community starts with the developers by cultivating a space that encourages feedback. An example would be listening to their player’s feedback and balancing gameplay by releasing patches frequently.

It’s critical to show that it takes skills to play NBA 2K18 by making the necessary changes for everyone to be in a fair playing field. However, it’s more important to show that there are developers that are actually listening. 2K Sports, the publisher, and Visual Concepts, the developer, have the potential to take the necessary steps with the NBA to take the NBA 2K series to another level.


 

Featured image courtesy of ESPN.

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Spurs

Three reasons why the San Antonio Spurs can Beat Golden State

Last year, the San Antonio Spurs season ended in a sweep by none other than the Golden State Warriors.

With the 2017-18 season approaching, the Spurs should be excited about the endless possibilities. In last year’s Western Conference finals, the Spurs found themselves down without their star Kawhi Leonard who re-aggravated his ankle injury after landing on Zaza Pachulia’s foot.

The jury is still out on the play which arguably cost the Spurs the series. With less than 12 days until the NBA season tips off, the franchise has something to prove to the world.

While other organizations struggle to maintain a balanced roster with youth and veteran leadership, the Spurs just seem to switch out pieces and depending on the draft.

Greg Popovich will be entering his 21st season as the Spurs head coach. Despite last season’s ending, the historic franchise still has a chance to do the impossible, dethrone the Warriors.

Before you freak out, remember that the Spurs went into halftime with a 62-42 lead in last year’s conference finals. During the third quarter, Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot and was sidelined for the rest of the series.

In addition to Leonard sitting out, long time guard Tony Parker ruptured his quadriceps in the series against the Houston Rockets. Although Parker is 35 years old, the longtime Spur knows how to make his teammates better, facilitates the ball and leads the troops.

If both Parker and Leonard come back healthy, the franchise has a real shot of defeating the reigning NBA champions. Now if you’re a Spurs fan, there are three key reasons why you should believe that your team can defeat Dub Nation.

Spurs’ balanced roster

Image by Mark Runyon

During free agency, Spurs management made it a priority to re-sign Pau Gasol, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili. Despite the age of both Gasol and Ginobili, the two veterans will play a crucial role in the postseason.

In addition to re-signing key parts from last year’s roster, management also signed Rudy Gay and drafted Derrick White, a combo-guard out of the University of Colorado Springs.

Although Gay is coming off of a ruptured Achilles injury, general manager RC Buford and Popovich struck gold. The 31-year-old small forward can guard multiple positions, score and handle the rock.

The coaching staff can virtually play Gay in any situation whether it’s small ball, defending bigs or in crunch time situations. The Baltimore native has a career average of 18.4 points per game.

During last year’s Western Conference finals, the franchise struggled to get points from the bench. In addition, Gay will be a reliable player to the bench if he can stay healthy. When healthy the Spurs averaged 107.1 points per game in the postseason.

This season the Spurs will have a solid bench rotation in Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauvergne. Now I know you may be laughing, but Popovich’s’ resume speaks for its self and he has a way of connecting with overseas players.

With the current roster, Popovich has roster depth beyond his second string and can play Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Bryn Forbes if necessary.

Last year’s playoffs helped provide Anderson and Murray with playoff experience. Throughout the offseason, Murray has worked out with Leonard which could be a blessing in disguise.

Trust in Popovich

Most of you may not like the comparison, but Popovich is probably the Bill Belichick of the NBA (minus the cheating and boring press conferences). Since taking over in 1996, the military veteran has changed the culture of the organization.

Any newcomer has to buy into the system, just ask LaMarcus Aldridge. No matter who is on the roster Popovich demands defense, ball movement and commitment. Players respect the 68-year-old coach and love to play for him because of his passion.

Coach Pop is the longest tendered coach in the NBA and that says something. Since he has been coaching in San Antonio, the organization has won five championships.

As long as the Spurs have Popovich on the sideline they have a chance to win on any night. Granted there does have to be some talent on the roster.

Reports have indicated that Parker may not return until December, but the franchise will weather the storm like always.

Chemistry

If healthy the projected starting line-up could be Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol.

Sources reported that Aldridge and Popovich cleared the air which could finally give LA the push to play harder. The starting lineup has played together for more than a year.

Last season Leonard led the team with 27.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. In order for this team to rise to the occasion and defeat the Warriors, they need to get a contribution from all five starters. Now again Parker averaged 15.9 points which were missed in the playoffs, but let’s face it, the bulk of scoring needs to come from Aldridge and Leonard with a splash of Green.

 

Featured image taken by Mark Runyon

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