Here is why Esports Arenas will be coming to a city near you

The world of esports is growing very quickly. Estimations show that it will be larger than a $1.5 Billion industry in the next couple years. We are seeing more major sponsors for leagues and teams. With this, esports are switching over to a franchising system. This can only mean more money coming into esports.

With franchising comes the need for arenas. For a long time, esports were not taken all that seriously because many worried that either a certain esport wouldn’t last long enough or that esports would be unable to be franchised because they wouldn’t make enough money. Well, Twitch and other streaming services changed that. This grew the audiences to very high levels. What it also did, however, was bring about a new worry.

Would people go to games or would they just prefer to watch it online? After spending time at TD Gardens in Boston, The Fillmore in Miami for NA LCS, talking with other journalists, and following both League and Overwatch League closely, I can tell you that people will absolutely go to these games weekly.

What about all the other events that have come before this?

Counter-Strike Global Offensive in Esports arena

Courtesy of: CS:GO Betting

This is a valid question. The answer is that most events or even leagues can be categorized into two different areas right now.

  1. Most of these events are only happening maybe once a month as tournaments or major events that happen a couple times a year. Examples of this are CS:GO and Dota 2. What these events prove is that if there is a major event, people will come. The problem is that it doesn’t show that there are enough people who would go on a weekly or multiple days a week basis.
  2. The second area is that most leagues as of now are based in Los Angeles or other centrally located cities. Both the OWL and League are based in LA and the NBA2k League is in New York City. This is great for the people who live there or who travel there as they can watch their teams play. Everyone else is sadly out of luck.

The Fans

Fan bases for esports as a whole are growing substantially. According to Statista.com, there will be almost 400 million viewers by the end of 2018. This number will only increase as games like Fortnite, which are sweeping the world right now, are spreading to casual and non-gamers.

With the swath of viewers, there will be many who attach to certain players or teams based on their viewing experiences and what games they like. While this is great, many people often never have an event close enough to them to see their favorite team or player perform in person. Thus, they watch online.

Courtesy of: SportsTechie

With the new franchising leagues, esports are following traditional sports. Many people forget that traditional sports did not start off with teams magically appearing in cities around the world all of a sudden. Instead, a relatively small amount of teams traveled and hosted events at venues where large numbers of people could gather. This mirrors how esports have been the last few years. Now, esports are moving onto the next stage of development with franchising.

With teams representing areas and cities, people will more likely gravitate towards them as their team. Again following the traditional sports model, this will help fan bases grow, allowing people to become more attached to their teams.

As more and more people watch esports, they will be enticed to at least look at their hometown teams which should, in turn, build fans in those areas.

Franchising

As one could probably tell when reading this, franchising is a game changer. Like the NFL, NBA, and MLB, esports like League of Legends, NBA2k, and Overwatch are following in their predecessors’ footsteps. They are paving the way for other esports to jump on franchising as it offers stability and money.

Stability and massive amounts of money have always been what has kept esports from being taken seriously. There were relegations at such an early start for esports like League of Legends. This kept people and groups from feeling comfortable in investing. With franchising eliminating relegations, we saw an instant interest to the tune of up to $20 million in investments for spots in these leagues.

This is a much cheaper price than trying to buy an NBA franchise. Getting in on the ground level of anything this big is always more exciting.

With the money and stability comes the desire to make more money. Building an arena can definitely help in this area. The investment towards the future will pay off as they will be able to grow the fan base even more due to people finally being able to watch their city’s team in person.

“If you build it, they will come.”

This quote from the movie Field of Dreams, while it is about the traditional sport of baseball, applies to esports quite well.

Between other events, the fan bases, and the stability brought about by franchising, the next logical step is to start building esports arenas in cities. While there are some newer ones, like in Las Vegas and Arlington, there are plenty of teams and companies working out ways to create even more.

With the leagues that are franchising, there are even some cities that will already have a need for new arenas to host the multiple teams that are in them. You can check them out here.

All of these leagues will continue to grow and more esports will be franchising. Call of Duty announced their intentions to franchise, but not much more has come out since. With that, more cities will get involved and the need for arenas will increase.

Keep an eye out, esports and their arenas will be coming to a city near you.

 

Featured image courtesy of: Populous.com

 

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Multi-Esport Cities

While the Esports industry is very young, franchising has allowed for it to mature much faster than its traditional sports counterpart. With franchising coming into play there are many different groups and people buying in, and these entities want esports teams in their cities.

This means that many fans will start to want to see their teams in person and thus esports arenas are the next step, you can check out why that is here.

The teams in League of Legends have not officially stated what cities they will be based in, so some of this is a bit of guessing as either they were founded in these cities or have major investments from them.

Now here is a list of US/NA cities that already have multiple teams in them:

Boston:

  • Boston Uprising (Overwatch League)
  • Celtics Crossover Gaming (NBA2k)

Cleveland:

  • 100 Thieves (League of Legends)
  • Cavs Legion (NBA2k)

Dallas:

  • Dallas Fuel (Overwatch League)
  • Mavs Gaming (NBA2k)

Houston:

  • Clutch City (League of Legends)
  • Houston Outlaws (Overwatch League)
  • OpTic Gaming (League of Legends)

Los Angeles:

  • LA Gladiators (Overwatch League)
  • LA Valiant (Overwatch League)
  • The Overwatch League
  • NALCS

Miami:

  • Florida Mayhem (Overwatch League)
  • Heat Check Gaming (NBA2k)

Milwaukee:

  • Bucks Gaming (NBA2k)
  • FlyQuest (League of Legends)

New York:

  • Counter Logic Gaming (League of Legends)
  • Echo Fox (League of Legends)
  • Knicks Gaming (NBA2k)
  • New York Excelsior (Overwatch League)

Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Golden State Guardians (League of Legends)
  • San Francisco Shock (Overwatch League)
  • Warriors Gaming Squad (NBA2k)

Philadelphia:

  • 76ers GC (NBA2k)
  • Philadelphia Fusion (Overwatch League)

Toronto:

  • Raptors Uprising GC (NBA2k)
  • Team Solo Mid (League of Legends)

 

We will make sure to continue updating this list as more esports franchise, more teams commit to cities, and more teams join the already franchised leagues. An EU and Asia list will come out once a couple other franchising esports leagues finalize.

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NBA 2k League Power Rankings

Post Tournament NBA 2k League Power Rankings

The NBA 2k League kicked off season one with a five day, 17-team round-robin tournament for a $100,000 prize pool. We saw blowouts, shootouts, great defense and great individual performances from top players. But above all, we saw two great teams meet in the championship game. 76ers Gaming beat Blazer5 Gaming by a score of 75 to 66. These organization had the 14th and 6th picks respectively of the first round and built incredible teams from top to bottom. So without further adieu, let’s examine where each team stacks up in my NBA 2k League power rankings.

Ranking System

These NBA 2k power rankings are based on three specific points of analysis: point differential per game, tournament standings, and eye test. It only fair that these teams are judged by their performances this weekend. It becomes too murky and unpredictable to introduce “projected success” into these rankings.

Nba 2k league Power Rankings: 17-10

17) Grizz Gaming –  Point Differential/Game:(-20), Tournament Rank:17th, Record:(0-4)

This was pretty straightforward. The Grizz struggled in all facets of the game. They suffered a 24 point loss at the hands of Pacers Gaming and a staggering 41 point loss to Mavs Gaming.

16) Magic Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(-11.33), Tournament Rank: 16th, Record:(0-3)

The Magic, if they had to play teams like Grizz Gaming did, would likely have a similar point differential. They were also the only other team who did not win a game during the tournament.

15) Heat Check Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(-12), Tournament Rank: 15th, Record:(1-3)

Heat Check Gaming was one of the more disappointing performances during the tournament. I do think this team is in a position to get better quickly with their two-man game of Hotshot and MaJes7ic, as well as the leadership from their coach.

14) Wizards Gaming District – Point Differential/Game:(-4.67), Tournament Rank: 14th, Record:(1-2)

The problem right now is that they aren’t getting reasonable production from the Small Forward position. Through three games, ReeseDaGod23 is averaging 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. It’s also worth mentioning that in the Wizards’ only win, they were 15/31 in three pointers and only won by five points.

13) Knicks Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(-1.67), Tournament Rank: 13th, Record:(1-2)

Their point differential per game indicates that they were competitive in every game, which they were. This is a balanced team in terms of scoring, but, they have to shoot the ball better from behind the arc. In their three games, they shot on average 27% from three and that needs to improve moving forward.

12) Bucks Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(-1), Tournament Rank: 12th, Record:(1-2)

The Bucks were being compared to the Pacers for much of the week in terms of play style. For the most part, that’s accurate. However, there is a stark difference at the Small Forward position. STL, the Small Forward for the Bucks, in two games (the box score for his third game is unavailable) averaged 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

11) Kings Guard – Point Differential/Game:(-0.67), Tournament Rank: 11th, Record:(1-2)

This team won’t be outside the top 10 for long. They are simply too talented. With more time to develop, they will turn those close losses into wins.

10) Jazz Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(+0.25), Tournament Rank: 8th, Record:(2-2)

This is the first real shake up and it’s all about talent. There are two teams who didn’t make the final group ranked ahead of Utah because they, in my opinion, are more talented.

NBa 2k LEague Power Rankings: 9-5

9) Raptors Uprising – Point Differential/Game:(0.0), Tournament Rank: 10th, Record:(1-2)

While the Raptors’ point differential isn’t as good as the Jazz, it’s marginal. They had to face both championship teams in their first group. Their two-man game of Kenny and Yusuf is going to get better and Yusuf was one of the only Centers to get the best of OneWildWalnut in this tournament.

8) Warriors Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(+1.25), Tournament Rank: 7th, Record:(2-2)

The Warriors have a clear identity, which is great. Vert was one of the best players in group play averaging 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. This production came to a halt when he matched up against Ramo in the quarterfinals. If this team wants to compete they absolutely have to get better production from their back court.

7) Cltx Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(+7.25), Tournament Rank: 9th, Record:(3-1)

You could consider this to be shakeup number two. Even though the Celtics missed the final cut, they have the fourth best point differential thus far, despite blowing a big lead to the Mavs in group play. This team is going to be a contender, and thus, is ranked higher than two teams who made the final cut.

6) Pistons GT – Point Differential/Game:(-5.40), Tournament Rank: 3rd, Record:(3-2)

The Pistons are a team that should not rest on their laurels. They are the only team to make the final cut with a negative point differential and had the fourth worst point differential of all the teams. Ramo is great, but this team needs to score more points, as they only eclipsed the 60 point mark once, and score just 48 points in their semi-final game versus the 76ers.

5) Pacers Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(+3.8), Tournament Rank: 6th, Record:(3-2)

The Pacers were one of the more intriguing teams entering the tournament. They were also the talking point of a minor controversy surrounding the “stiff arm” animation used by Wolf to get to the basket. Not to mention, how they would incorporate Vgooner from UK into the offense. This team has an identity and will continue to get better throughout the season.

nba 2k league Power Rankings: 4-1

4) Mavs Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(+8.40), Tournament Rank: 5th, Record:(3-2)

Mavs Gaming is in a good position, despite their blowout loss to the 76ers. Dimez did not disappoint. It was important from a branding perspective that he perform like the number one pick, and he certainly did. However, this tournament taught us that one great player does not make you a great team. Mavs Gaming will no doubt improve and will likely develop into a great, not good, team.

3) Cavs Legion GC – Point Differential/Game:(+4.40), Tournament Rank: 4th, Record:(3-2)

Any conversation about Cavs Legion has to start with Hood. Hood asserted himself as a dominant player and the most prolific scorer at the Small Forward position in the league. This is a team that can win shootouts, but had some issues with the Bucks in group play. Hood was “held” to a modest 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Overall, this is a dangerous team that showed they can score with anyone.

2) Blazer5 Gaming – Point Differential/Game:(+8.16), Tournament Rank: 2nd, Record:(5-1)

It’s a shame the Blazers couldn’t finish the tournament at 6-0 and the undisputed best team in the league entering the regular season. We have to start with OneWildWalnut. He was the emotional leader of this team and a force during the tournament. His play, combined with Mamma Im Dat Man and Dat Boy Shotz, allowed them to dismantle the Pacers by 20 in the quarterfinals. This team is incredibly versatile and should be a favorite moving forward.

1) 76ers GC – Point Differential/Game:(+7.67), Tournament Rank: 1st, Record:(5-1)

The 76ers deserved to win the tournament led by the magnificent play of their point guard, Radiant. Steez was also a critical reason why they did not lose a game since their first round match up with the Blazers in group play. But the shock of the tournament was 6th round pick ZDS’ performance in the championship game. His 19 points was just too much for the Blazers to overcome.

 

Photo Courtesy of Sportskeeda.com

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The best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft

In case you missed it, the NBA 2K League Draft took place on April 4. It allowed all 17 teams to draft their rosters for the upcoming NBA 2K League season. With that, here’s who was the best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft.

Round 1

As one might expect, there was a lot of talented players taken in the first round. It would be too easy to say that Dimez, aka Artreyo Boyd, was my favorite pick since he was taken at #1 and was considered by many to be the top player in the entire draft. My favorite pick was #16, where Hood Is Glitchy was taken by Cavs Legion GC. Hood is a highly skilled and experienced player, and no doubt a top player out of the 102. The fact that he fell to the end of the first round made him a steal! He is one of the best offensive players both in pro-am and the NBA 2K League, and his dribbling, court vision and passing skills should all be put to good use as he runs the Cleveland offense from the point guard position this season. 

The best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft

via Twitter @CavsLegionGC

Round 2

Much like the first, round two was also full of talent. I’m a big fan of a lot of the players taken here, like iiNsaniTTy, Worthingcolt and Detoxys. My favourite pick was MaJes7ic, taken at #28 by Heat Check Gaming. He’s got a lot of experience with top pro-am teams like Slight Work. He’s also proven to be a very versatile player, moving between point guard and shooting guard regularly and transitioning seamlessly between on-ball and off-ball offense. He also brings his aggressive defense at either position. Expect to see him do great things this season, playing under the guidance of FamousEnough.

The best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft

via Twitter @HeatCheckGaming

Round 3

In the third round, Timelycook was drafted by Kings Guard Gaming. He brings LAN playing experience, having played on the Still Trill team that won $250k on the big stage in New Orleans on NBA 2K17. He’s also one of the most versatile players in the 102, having moved between lockdown SF, big, and point guard within the last two years and playing all those positions at a high level. He also brings loyalty, passion and a vocal presence at the PG position. With that in mind, I’m not sure how he dropped so low. He went at #38 when it was predicted he would go in round one. Either way, Sacramento got themselves a steal. I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs surrounded by top talents like Mootyy and Worthingcolt.

The best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft

via Twitter @KingsGuardGG

Round 4

This was a tough choice for me, but I’ve chosen vGooner- as my top pick for this round. I was also considering iBall x ToXsiK, however, I went with Gooner in the end. He’s one of three Europeans to get drafted and is arguably the most skilled and best known EU prospect. He’s dominated the EU pro-am scene on PS4, leading New Wave to the NBA 2K17 EU All-Star Tournament finals, and leading Rise Above to the #1 spot on the leaderboards in NBA 2K18. His court vision, scoring and defense should all be put to good use as the starting point guard. Gooner was predicted to go in round one of lots of mock drafts, so Indiana also got themselves a steal.

The best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft

via Twitter @Pacers_Gaming

Round 5

While there was a surprising amount of good players selected in this round, my favorite pick was LykAPro, aka Promeister. He’ll be using LykAPro as his name for the league, and he’s definitely a good pick up for Golden State. He’s an experienced pro-am player, having been an MPBA champion before getting drafted. He won the MPBA MIT Championship with Old School fairly recently. I was shocked he fell this far, especially considering his talent, but the Warriors did a good job capitalizing on the depth of the draft pool at the point guard position. Being selected at #85 should provide him with motivation this season, expect to see him shine at point guard.

The best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft

via Twitter @WarriorsGaming

Round 6

This was the final round of the draft. Teams were free to draft at all position as the starting lineups had already been filled. At #92, my favorite pick was KingQuai614 of Raptors Uprising GC. He’s been around the pro-am community for a while, previously playing with TrollBoyTre, a well-known member of the community, for Flight Elite in NBA 2K17. He had some good combine stats, even getting a quadruple-double in one game at center. He’s also shown some versatility, playing both power forward and center in the combine. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do coming off the bench this season.

via Twitter @RaptorsGC

That’s who I think is the best pick in each round of the NBA 2K League Draft. The Tip-Off tournament starts on May 1st, so stay tuned for some NBA 2K League action !

Featured image from Twitter

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NBA 2k Leage Draft

The NBA 2k League Draft: What did and didn’t work

Yesterday was a pivotal moment for the NBA 2k League, and the Esports industry as a whole. For the first time ever, a professional traditional sports league has created and funded an Esports league in its image. While it was a great step in the right direction, not everything the league did was a slam-dunk. Let’s review what did and didn’t work at the inaugural NBA 2k League Draft.

Pre-Draft Hype: Didn’t work

This league’s success, as commissioner Adam Silver indicated, will be determined by viewership. Currently, there are approximately 72,000 people worldwide who are NBA 2k enthusiasts. For the sake of argument, let’s round that number up to 100,000.

At its peak viewership on Twitch, the NBA 2k League Draft topped out at about 30,000 concurrent viewers. These aren’t bad numbers, but let’s put it in perspective. The broadcast of the draft was the eighth most popular stream of the day at its peak.

Meaning, individual streamers without the NBA backing and brand were garnering more viewership. To be fair, it might be too early to measure their success against other established streamers on Twitch. However, those people are going to be their competitors, and eventually, they will have to rival them.

There are two things they could have done to expose this event to a wider audience. First, the league could have put some type of content on their channel leading up to the draft to create some buzz. Even if they just post interviews or highlights of players, it at least lets everyone on Twitch know they’re here.

Second, there didn’t appear to be any advertising of this event on Twitch. Wouldn’t it make sense to sponsor a large streamer just to talk about the NBA 2k League Draft, or play with/against one of the top prospects? Wouldn’t it also make sense to have one of their NBA players do a similar type of event with a prospect on stream?

Overall, I trust the league to make good decisions and come up with smart campaigns. Since I have no idea what their promotional budget was, I can’t definitively say they made a mistake. But, it’s fair to say there were missed opportunities that could have helped boost initial viewership.

Pre-Draft Press Conference: Worked

While it was standard in terms of media press conferences, it was incredibly smart to broadcast it before the draft. For the first time, we had the three most important people in this league on record at the same time. The press conference did a few things well, but there’s one thing it did that was incredibly important for the entire Esports industry.

First, this event further legitimized the league because of the wide range of media outlets in attendance from ESPN, to the Washington Post, to the Sports Business Journal. Having members of different types of media outlets attend and ask questions signals that this league is legitimate and warrants professional coverage moving forward.

The second, and potentially most important, thing this press conference did was categorize these players as athletes. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the idea of Esports players being athletes has been a point of contention for both sides. It was monumental when Adam Silver said that he in fact views these players as athletes.

“I do see them as athletes…it takes a unique combination of physical and mental skills to excel. It’s not that different than the NBA, where you have to have incredible physical skills, but our very best players bring a certain mental focus and prowess to the court as well.”

– Adam Silver

If the commissioner wanted to dodge this question he certainly could have. His media training and experience would allow him to give an answer without addressing the question, like so many high profile athletes and CEO’s do. The point is, he felt comfortable calling them athletes, justifying why he thinks so, and putting on the record.

Event Production: Didn’t Work

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room. While the concept of the NBA 2k League Draft was great, it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. For example, the twenty minute delay wasn’t good. Given the production value of the Overwatch League and League of Legends, this kind of delay is unacceptable if you’re trying to establish yourself as a premiere Esport.

Once the draft started, there were some things aesthetically that didn’t work. The NBA 2k League should be commended for their efforts in broadcasting this draft. It was well done in terms of its quality. However, there were clearly some things they would address if given the chance to do it again.

First, there needed to be some kind of background filler after a prospect was selected. Another way this could have been handled was to play highlights of each player until they reached the stage. It would have been a great opportunity to display their skills for all the viewers even if it was just a few clips.

Second, the interviews were lackluster. This was because the questions being asked were generic and there wasn’t enough time between picks to ask questions that would elicit a thoughtful, interesting response.

Draft Format: Worked

Plain and simple, the snake format worked. It was the best way to ensure a level playing field among all the teams. It also added another layer of strategy when it comes to team building. The franchises at the top got the best prospects, but as a result, they have to adjust the most given the amount of time between their picks.

Now, that can be applied to every team. However, it impacts the teams at the top slightly more because of the difference in skill between their best and their second best player. Thus, they have to have a strong strategy and execute it.

Moving Forward

Despite the initial technical difficulties and the awkward moments, the NBA 2k League Draft was a success. The next step in the process will be promoting the league and the players moving forward. If viewership is the key performance indicator of success, the league will have to find a way to compete for audiences’ attention on Twitch and tapping into a whole new audience altogether.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Darren Rovell Twitter (@darrenrovell)

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Everything you need to know about the NBA 2K League Draft

The inaugural season of the NBA 2K League is set to kick off very soon, and that means the very first NBA 2K League Draft will also be taking place. With that, here’s everything you need to know about the subject :

via Twitter @NBA2KLeague

When and Where?

Announced on March 9th, the draft will be taking place on Wednesday, April 4th at 1pm EST. The location of the draft was also announced on the same day, and what better place than New York City. It will be held in The Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden’s Lobby.

via Twitter @thomas_lynch412

 

Who?

The draft will last for six rounds with each of the 17 teams selecting six players. That means 102 players will be drafted in total, and all of these players have been specifically picked out. Hopefuls participated in the NBA 2K League Combine from February 2 to February 21, which narrowed down the 72,000 participants to just 250. Those 250 players then filled out an online application and participated in an interview, and the number was further reduced to the final 102. Although the official list of all players who will be drafted has not been released, there are plenty of unofficial lists available, such as this one.

via Twitter @DIMER2K

 

How?

The draft will be a serpentine draft, or go in a snake order. This means the order of the picks reverses after each round. The NBA 2K League draft lottery also took place on March 13th. The draft order was decided in the same way as the NBA draft order, drawing ping-pong balls in random order from a ball machine. With the serpentine draft style, even though Warriors Gaming have the 17th pick in the first round, they will have the first pick in the second round. MavsGG will have the very first pick, with CLTX Gaming coming in at number two. You can see the entire first round draft order below.

via Twitter @NBA2KLeague

 

With the draft approaching, I’m sure everyone involved is extremely excited. I’m looking forward to tuning in, and I hope all of you do the same!

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NBA 2k League Prospect Profile

NBA 2k League Prospect Profile: ThurberSr.

One could argue that the most important position in the NBA 2k League Combine is Point Guard. The Point Guard brings the ball up the court, initiates offense and talks through offensive/defensive sets. This adds responsibility to everyone playing this position. Now, let’s evaluate the subject of my next NBA 2k League prospect profile, ThurberSr.

ThurberSr.’s Profile

As I alluded to in the introduction, ThurberSr. (TS) is playing the Point Guard position during the NBA 2k League combine. Specifically, he’s chosen to be a slashing play-maker. As far as his archetypal choice, I’m fine with it. There’s more than one way to play Point Guard successfully and from what I’ve seen, TS has the ability to that.

Defense Evaluation

As much as I enjoyed him, TS left a lot to be desired on the defensive end. In all fairness, my possession by possession analysis is just on one game. I have also made an effort to watch some of his other tape to really see how he plays defense.

From what I’ve seen, TS can, but is not always, a defensive liability. I think this is also due to his archetypal choice and not having any natural defensive abilities, but, he made the choice. For example, his opponent would routinely drive and pull up for a mid-range jump shot. Instead of playing off, and anticipating the pull up, he would play tight to the ball and get beat to the basket. He would also not adjust his position.

Instead of opening up and allowing him to drive to an area he had defensive help, TS would play him straight up and give him a two-way go. In the game I watched in detail, TS did make adjustments as the game continued, but it wasn’t enough to impact his opponent.

There are a few things that can help TS play better defense consistently. First, he can eliminate unnecessary movements like steals and blocks. This will allow him to stay in good defensive position more consistently instead of getting beat due to a poorly timed animation.

Second, he should use his opponents archetype against them. If an opponent has chosen to be a slasher, play off from the start and force him to prove he can shoot. Conversely, don’t give a sharp a lot of space to get up a shot. It seems obvious, but I continually see players not take advantage of knowing that information from the start.

Third and finally, TS needs to communicate on defense when he needs help. I totally understand that getting helped on defense is not his job. However, if he doesn’t ask for help when it’s clearly needed, that’s on him. Overall, TS has the potential to be a good defender, he just needs to do the basics more consistently.

Offense Evaluation

Offensively, ThurberSr. is tremendously gifted as a Point Guard. His understanding of timing and spacing in pick and roll is great. If it weren’t for some of the frustrating 2k animations and scenarios, TS would have had five or six more assists. His biggest asset is his patience. He won’t force a pass into the paint off a roll unless it was there. Below are some examples that demonstrate his all around offensive game.

His passing ability was complimented nicely by knowing when to attack the basket aggressively and pull up for a mid-range jump shot. If anything, he could have been even more aggressive attacking the basket. He would often beat the opponent to the basket and pass back out to the top of the key for an open three pointer. There were times when I thought that strategy became predictable, but isn’t anything he should be concerned about.

Communication and Attitude

TS had excellent communication on the offensive end. He would do most of his talking before crossing half court. It was natural for him to direct traffic and delegate which players should cut, screen, roll and wrap. Sadly, this didn’t translate on the defensive side of the ball. TS would rarely call out switches, screens, and box outs. It’s not out of the ordinary, but as the Point Guard, you have more responsibility and should be expected to communicate more and better than most players.

When it comes to attitude, TS is never too high or low. I appreciate that kind of steady, reserved mindset. He was never demeaning towards his teammates, or let his frustrations get the best of him. There was one thing I did not appreciate during the game. Instead of playing the final possession of his game, he simply dribbled out the clock. There isn’t anything wrong or malicious with his decision, but, the last impression he left for anyone watching was not positive. Always play hard, and let the other team decide if they are going to stop playing.

Overall Grade

ThurberSr. is a promising player at Point Guard. I love his offensive game. He can do almost anything with the ball in his hands. But, his defense and attitude in the game I evaluated earns him a “C+”. This is not an indication of his potential or an attack on his character. This is just an honest evaluation from the game I watched in-depth and the few others I skimmed. ThurberSr. can easily make adjustments to elevate his defense and I look forward to his progress in the combine.

 

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Prospect Profile

NBA 2k League Prospect Profile – TheWealthySon

It feels like the NBA 2k League Combine just started yesterday. Now that we’ve passed the halfway point, players have a better understanding of the combine and how to play within it. One player who understood how to play from the start, is the subject of this prospect profile, Adam Burns.

TheWealthySon’s Profile

TheWealthySon (TWS) is playing as a sharpshooting, slashing Small Forward. This is first small forward I’ve thoroughly evaluated, so I didn’t know what to expect. As always, I determine my grade on the first combine game a prospect plays in. Watching TWS’s first game, was truly eye opening. If you’re reading this evaluation, I encourage you watch his first game because it’s a great example of how to carry yourself for the rest of this combine, which you can find here.

Defense Evaluation

The small forward position is hard to play and hard to evaluate because they can choose to play more like a guard or a forward at this end of the floor. So, I had to wait for TWS to cement his choice and evaluate from there. From what I gathered, TWS wanted to primarily play help defense and initiate fast breaks.

His on ball defense is good. When his man gets the ball, TWS doesn’t panic or overreact to movement. He often forces a pass to another player and can return to playing help defense. Very rarely did TWS get beat off the dribble. On the few occasions he did, TWS managed to recover and not put his team in a bad position.

His off the ball defense was good as well. Once he got a feel for the opposition, he had no trouble sifting through the defense to stay with his man. He was also able to take calculated risks as a result of understanding how his opposition and make plays for his team. You can see two examples of his play below.

My biggest critique of TWS on defense would be aggression and indecisiveness. Too many times he would stay disengaged because his man is choosing to stay put away from the ball. I understand he doesn’t want to abandon his assignment, but his team was getting crushed in the paint early. TWS could have stopped the opposition’s success by making a conscious effort to trap. There were also instances that he would crash the boards when it wasn’t necessary, and try to run on the fast break when he should be trying to rebound. Overall, TWS is a solid defender who would benefit greatly by taking more calculated risks on defense.

Offense Evaluation

TWS struggled early, specifically, with his jump shot. This isn’t uncommon for the first game of the combine, the only problem is he failed to properly adjust quickly. For example, he had tremendous success driving to the basket and at the free throw line. Despite that fact, he took multiple baseline jump shots which did not go in. Preferably, TWS should have utilized a pump fake or some kind of move to get into the paint, as opposed to settling for jump shots.

However, he displayed great awareness as the game developed. In the second half TWS had a much better understanding of his strengths and role in the offense. He started to have great success cutting, specifically, the backdoor cut. Once he figured out his role and the proper timing on cuts, his game really flourished. This only accentuated his already good feel for spacing. Ultimately, I believe TWS passed on too many scoring opportunities. I understand he didn’t want to upset his teammates and share the ball, but there were a few instances that he really should have driven to the basket. If TWS could have made these adjustments in the second quarter, I firmly believe his team’s deficit would not have been so large.

 

Communication and Attitude Evaluation

If you watched this game on mute, you’d probably overlook TWS as just an average player. But, his communication and overall attitude are among the best I’ve seen. He would routinely call out double teams on offense, when to time box outs, and cuts to the basket. There were some cases where I think he over communicated during defensive sets, but that’s not a huge issue.

In case you couldn’t tell from the footage, TheWealthySon’s team was down by 20 points for most of the first half. In his team’s first combine game, they faced a seemingly insurmountable deficit. The whole time TWS remained upbeat, encouraged teammates, and continued to play and communicate as if it was a one possession game. This paid off huge. His attitude was clearly infectious and allowed his teammates to battle back. In the fourth quarter, his team was actually up by two points despite being so far down. It was truly incredible to see TWS and his team respond so well in their first combine experience.

Overall Grade

Deciding on a final grade was tough. Thank goodness I was able to hear the audio as well as watch the footage. If not, I probably would have given TheWealthySon a “C” or “C+” grade given his early struggles and lack of adapting quickly. But, I decided that TWS was deserving of a “B-” given his attitude and that this was his first game. Without him, this team would have absolutely lost by double digits, or quit before the game was over.

 

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Prospect Profile

NBA 2k League prospect profile: TimmiTHD

I want to start by saying thank you to the NBA 2k League community. The feedback I’m getting from you all is great and motivating me to produce better content. My second NBA 2k League prospect profile will feature TimmiTHD. He’s been a supporter of mine from the beginning, but that does not make him beyond my criticisms as a prospect.

TimmiTHD’s Profile

TimmiTHD (TT) has chosen to be a play-making slashing shooting guard and was matched up against a sharpshooting shot creator. Due to a technical difficulty in his stream, I wasn’t able to evaluate his first game in the combine. So, my possession-by-possession evaluation was based off of his first game of day three.

Overall, TT has incredible potential. He has some areas where he is particularly strong and has unique communication that goes beyond the norm. However, he also makes some philosophical choices on defense that frustrate me beyond belief. I don’t think any of my critiques of TT aren’t fixable, but, they will certainly hold him back from being the best player he can be.

Defense Evaluation

As I eluded in his profile, watching TT’s style of defense sends me on an emotional roller coaster where I’m applauding him one moment, and the next typing in all caps to communicate my frustration. Let’s start with the good. TT plays a style of defense that I love, aggressive hedging. He also makes flash defensive plays. In the game I watched, TT had multiple steals and even more tipped passes resulting stoppage of play, or someone else picking up the loose ball. You can see what I’m describing in the video below.

TT had several more plays just like this I did not include. As you can see, he can frustrate opposing offenses and create easy transition points and opportunities for his teammates. I am a huge fan of anyone who plays hedge defense. For those who don’t know, it means a player who’s man is not involved with the offense decides to play off with the intention of helping or making a big play. But, I have serious issues with how aggressively and frequently he plays hedge defense.

TT has to do a better job of staying out of the paint in an attempt to make plays on defense. His opponent was not confident in his jump shot, so it didn’t cost him or his team in this game. But, he repeatedly left his man open on multiple occasions and will get exposed if he faces a true sharp.

As a shooting guard, you should rarely fall below the elbows when playing hedge defense, unless executing a switch. That’s a general statement. In reference to TT, he should never fall below the elbow when hedging because he is so gifted at initiating transition offense. In order to ascend to the top of his position, he must adjust defensively.

Offense Evaluation

TT’s overall offensive approach is great. While his archetype is all about making plays, he wants to make plays for his teammates. His spacial awareness was great, with only a few instances of confusion. Overall, TT is a strong offensive player. He doesn’t take a lot of shots, but, that’s a trend I’ve seen across the combine because of the unpredictability of the shooting mechanic. What truly stands out about TT, is his gift to initiate transition offense.

As stated earlier, these are only a few clips of his incredibly strong transition game. He has a great feel for when and who to pass to on the break. But what makes him excel at this facet of the game, is his communication. “Circle gone.” I cannot tell you how impressed I was by this statement.

TT could have easily said, “I’m open” or “hit me”, but he chose to say “circle gone”. What that does is make his teammate’s job easier. By announcing the button that corresponds with his position, the outlet passer does not have to think. As the game went on, these transition passes were leaving his teammate’s hands before the camera even adjusted.

That is an elite level of communication because it doesn’t make his teammate think, just react. That is an incredible asset to have in this combine because he’s playing with teammates who are not familiar with him or his style.

Overall, his offensive game is solid. I couldn’t find any glaring holes. On several occasions, TT passed on open shots to get his teammates involved. In a game they are winning by double digits, that’s okay. In a close game where every possession is crucial, he can’t pass up on open looks.

I am attributing his, and most players’ hesitation to shoot, to the new mechanic. Players don’t want to miss a lot of shots, so they’d rather pass or drive. This is something I’d like to see improve throughout the combine, more confidence in their jump shot.

Communication and Attitude Evaluation

TimmiTHD has excellent communication on both sides of the ball. On defense he calls out screens, motions and anything else that could interrupt their defensive flow. His communication on offense is the best I’ve seen. Identifying his button for the outlet passer really puts him on another level.

TT’s personality is great as well. A shooting guard needs to know when to be aggressive and when to take a back seat. TT has demonstrated that he can do both. He also brings a fun, authentic style to the game, which his teammates feed off.

Overall Grade

It pains me to do this, but I have to give TimmiTHD a “B-” from what I’ve seen. TT can make some quick, simple adjustments to quickly catapult his stock. I also wanted to communicate that his defense, if no adjustments are made, could considerably hold him back from being the best player he can possibly be.

 

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NBA 2k League Combine

NBA 2k League prospect profile: Petty_Andretti

Before we dive in to my prospect profile on Petty_Andretti, I want to make clear my evaluation process and that these are my thoughts independent of the in-game rating system. I start by watching the first game of every prospect. I evaluate their performance on every offensive and defensive possession. Meaning I watch a possession, pause and take notes, watch a possession, pause and take notes, and repeat until the game’s completion. Then, I watch their other two games to see growth, regression and consistency. The overall grade provided is purely based on my evaluation, and how that player performed in the three games I watched.

Petty_Andretti’s Profile

Petty_Andretti (PA) has chosen to play center, with the slashing stretch five archetype. His choice is interesting. PA has chosen to naturally be an offensive player without any natural defensive abilities. Surprisingly, you’d never know by watching him play defense and rebound.

Overall, I was impressed with the group of centers I watched this weekend. It will no doubt be a highly competitive group. As a side note, I would strongly advise any fringe centers to switch to power forward given the position scarcity and archetypes available to that position.

Defense Evaluation

I was thoroughly impressed with PA’s performance. After the first few possessions, you’ll notice that the point guard PA is playing with is a huge defensive liability. Sadly, this meant that PA had to spend the majority of the game guarding two positions, given the undisciplined defense of their point guard.

PA adjusts beautifully and consistently plays an aggressive hedge defense to compensate for their Point Guard. Below I’ve included a few plays that stood out to me, and a short breakdown of each.

It might look like he’s playing lazy defense, but the high screen is meant to draw him up and out of the paint. PA doesn’t bite. He’s anticipating the point guard getting beat on the screen, which happened, and would rather force the opposing center to attempt a lower percentage shot and stop the dribble penetration.

Here’s a great example of how to play the oppositions pick and roll. PA and his teammate wait for the opponent to initiate. Instead of committing and making a mistake, they slow play, communicate, and have a great switch. While the result is not good, his verbal communication and patience creates a great example of how to play the pick and roll. He has this same patience throughout the game and as a result, forces turnovers and ill advised shots.

While PA demonstrated some great defensive qualities and awareness, it wasn’t all great. Multiple times in my evaluation, I had to give him a minus because of unnecessary block attempts. He wasn’t spamming block. But, his ill advised block attempts left him out of position for key rebounds and help defense. This continued for most of the game and into overtime.

In the first half, PA was also not fully committing to switches. He wanted to make sure he was protecting the rim and not hanging his teammate out to dry. Thankfully, he was able to verbally communicate with his teammates and establish when and how to do a fully committed switch.

Offense Evaluation

The center position has garnered a lot of conversation after the first weekend. This is an unofficial stat, but I believe just over 4,000 Centers are averaging around 30 points and 20 rebounds per game. That tells me it isn’t hard to accumulate stats at that position, so they become increasingly less valuable. It’s about the process, not the result.

PA demonstrated great spacing in his games. He wasn’t simply a static player camping out in the paint. He would set off-ball screens, run high pick and roll and know when to draw his man out to open up the lane for a teammate. His ability to set effective screens really opened up the offense in game one. Below is an example on how to truly set an effective screen instead of obviously getting set, and having the point guard react late.

This is something every player can immediately integrate into their game. Don’t be lazy and obvious about setting screens. PA makes this screen look like he’s simply getting to his spot or cutting across the court. By taking this approach, he doesn’t tip off the defense and their offense gets an easy two points. Now let’s look at how this evolved into a pick and roll/pick and pop.

While this screen wasn’t as deceptive as the previous one, it’s still effective. Once the point guard clears, he holds his ground. This was the right decision because he doesn’t need to unnecessarily clog the paint. The point guard makes a good read to get the ball back to PA, and without hesitation, he drives inside.

While the numbers aren’t as eye-popping as some of the screenshots you’ve seen on Twitter, PA’s offensive game is sound and effective. However, there are things I’d like to see him do less. He’s obviously a good screen setter. But, I don’t like how PA comes up to the three point line to initiate the play. By setting the screen so high, he takes himself out of contention to grab a rebound. He also tries to run similar offensive sets later in the game even when the defense was prepared for them. It’s minor, but it led to wasted possessions and turnovers later in the game.As a side note, I would also like to see PA be more aggressive with scoring opportunities, specifically, back-to-the-basket post moves.

communication and attitude Evaluation

PA was strong in both of these categories. His communication on offense defense was good. I’m not saying good is average, but to be great, the communication needed to be just a bit more detailed. Meaning, instead of just saying “watch it, watch it” to call out a screen, be more specific. “Hey PG on your left I got switch”, would be an excellent example of communication. PA would routinely call out screens, switches and potential offensive sets. It was great to see such leadership and initiative from the center position.

I’m a huge fan of his attitude. PA is never too high, never too low. If he finds out a teammate doesn’t have a mic, he doesn’t complain and start making excuses. He simply adjusts his strategy, and plays his game. PA is encouraging to all of his teammates no matter the situation, and takes ownership of his mistakes. And the best part it, this is completely authentic. PA is not “putting on” for the scouts. He’s truly a calm, smart and passionate teammate.

Overall Grade

I want to preface this by saying I’m an extremely tough grader. So, my first grade I’m giving to Petty_Andretti is a “B”. There are a few things PA can work on to easily earn an “A” grade. Chief among them would be to eliminate unnecessary block attempts, stay away from setting so many screens at the three point line and develop a better back-to-the-basket offensive game. With all the incredible stat lines being put up by Centers, PA will have to raise his game offensively to truly be among the best. I am incredibly excited to see how Petty_Andretti develops throughout the combine.

 

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