In the inaugural season the NBA2K League, there were a lot of questions that came up as to how the league will work, what will happen in the offseason, etc. Some of those questions got answered when the teams in the league announced they were protecting two players on their teams. The other four players that were not protected would be put into a pool of players for the expansion draft coming up at the end of September. Atlanta, Minnesota, Brooklyn, and L.A. are the cities of the new teams that will field their protected players from this pool of unprotected players. I was able to talk with Lang Whitaker, Grizz Gaming GM, about why they chose to protect the players AuthenticAfrican and UniversalPhenom for the upcoming year.
Why did you decide to keep the players that you did?
We made the decision as an organization to protect Antonio and Mehyar because they were two of our most versatile and talented players during our inaugural season. We are excited to be able to continue working with them next season.
What qualities do they bring to the team?
Like I mentioned before, their versatility proved to be very valuable for us in year one. We also have a blueprint for the kind of team we want to build going forward, and we expect they will play important roles for us.
What does this mean for them, they will definitely be here next year?
More immediately, it means we control their rights during the offseason. There is a trade window coming up when teams will be allowed to trade players as well as draft picks, and we’ve been doing our due diligence speaking with other teams from around the league. But, yes, we expect them to be here next season.
What about the other players from the team, what happens to them?
They go into the pool of players available for the upcoming expansion draft, where they will be eligible to be selected by one of the four new teams joining the 2K League in 2019.
Overall, how do you think the first year went for Grizz Gaming?
Missing the playoffs was disappointing, there’s no way around that. But considering we lost 9 of our first 10 games (in the regular season and tournaments), I thought it said a lot about our guys, their work ethic and their ability to fight back, to see the way we were able to grit and grind down the stretch and eventually finish as a top ten team.
What did you learn from this year that will help you in year two?
Plenty. I think -- biggest picture -- the best teams in the 2K League were the ones that were able to adjust and compete when the archetypes changed during the season. Having the experience of year one will only make us better.
What does year two look like for Grizz Gaming?
I hope we are able to capitalize on the momentum we built late in the season, finishing 5-5 in our last 10 games and in the hunt for a playoff spot up until the last week of the season, and solidify a place as one of the teams to be reckoned with in the 2K League, even as the 2K League continues to grow and expand.
Grizz Gaming, along with the rest of NBA2K teams, will draft from the unprotected pool of players as well as any new players slated for the draft next year. They will select 7th in the 2019 NBA 2K League draft. The draft order for the first eight picks was determined by a lottery just like in the NBA, but Grizz Gaming only had a 6% chance to winning the first pick.
The draft order for the first round of the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft. pic.twitter.com/yj2nVIDXJ1— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) September 7, 2018
Hopefully with the 2018 protected players and a high draft pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA 2K League draft, Grizz Gaming will have a chance at the championship in the second season of the 2K League.