A team that has never been taken seriously since the 2K league started in 2018, Grizz Gaming is proving that they’ve finally arrived in 2020.
DirK (@Dirk_JDR) mentioned a story about on the 2K League Broadcast on Tuesday night regarding how far the Grizz had come. A conversation he had with Grizz Gaming wing AuthenticAfrican (AuthenticAfr) in year one.
“I remember saying that Grizz Gaming was going to be the 18th worst team in the 2K league, and there were only 18 teams that year,” Dirk recalls the story with Authentic. “I remember the first game of the year, Grizz Gaming won the game, and Authentic approached me after the game,” Dirk continued. “We had to win that game since you had us being the 18th worst team in the league,” Authentic said to Dirk after the win.
That interaction came to Dirk’s mind when seeing how far this Grizz Gaming team had come since their first season. Grizz Gaming didn’t have a star point guard in year one, and sat in the lower tier of the NBA 2K League.
In year two (last season), Memphis missed the playoffs by a few games, forcing Grizz Gaming GM/Head Coach Lang Whitaker to make big move in the 2K League draft. Moving three draft picks for a Center from Knicks Gaming in ‘Goofy.’
With Authentic coming back for his third season, and the Grizz betting on Vandi’s production in three games last season at the Point Guard spot, Memphis finally had a full roster that was competitive - at least on paper it seemed.
Memphis then rounded out the roster bringing back JRod to help with their perimeter shooting, as he played with Memphis last season. The Grizz also brought back big man DDouble. Both played with the Grizz last season, and rounded out the roster around their three stars in Vandi, Authentic, and Goofy.
The Schedule Wasn’t Too Kind
Call it a tough draw to start the season, but Memphis started off the season rather slowly. The squad was inconsistent on both sides of the floor, allowing their opponents to shoot well over 60% from the field and playing the top tier opponents had the Grizz look like a bottom tier 2K team again.
All of the offseason moves, and hype, was dwindling into little to no hope after four losses. Granted, Memphis’ strength of schedule hasn’t been strong during this winning streak, but Memphis has had some triumph victories in three straight series that have been pushed to a third game. From falling to 0-4, to winning four straight, shows their strength of schedule in their losses and their ability to grow from previous mistakes in wins.
Tuesday’s Statement Win
Memphis entered Tuesday night is a massive underdog, not even one expert from ESGN picked Memphis to defeat the 3rd placed T-Wolves on Tuesday night.
After dropping game one Tuesday night by 39 points against the T-Wolves Gaming team, Memphis was again making the experts look right. Fortunate for the Grizz, I could tell that as the third quarter of game one ended, with the Grizz getting destroyed, this team wasn’t phased in the least by one loss. Just like the last two series, it was on to game two.
Grizz Gaming guard Vandi had one of his worst games in game one, but didn’t hold back in game two. Vandi dropped 13 points in the first quarter after only scoring 11 points in game one. After the first quarter, you could see the energy in the Grizzlies play. Vandi dropped 32 points in game two, and Memphis forced another game three behind hungry, smart basketball.
The key this season has been the communication throughout this team, and adjusting to their opponent while keeping their opposition on their toes. For Memphis Tuesday night, it was about playing their style of play. Running a half court offense, while pushing tempo off opponents missed baskets when it made sense. Game one, Grizz pushed the pace with no purpose, opposed to game two and three where there was purpose on each possession.
Adjustments, unselfish play from Authentic switching his MyPlayer build (Two-way finisher) to fit the needs of this team, and Vandi maximizing the teams potential on the offensive end all helped take down the third best team in the 2K League Tuesday night.
It was fitting the way the game ended Tuesday night. Vandi the leading scorer (28), Authentic the leading player in steals (7), and Goofy grabbing 12 boards in game three. This team has chipped away until they found success
It’s about getting hot at the right time
With the regular season ending and the Tip-Off tournament tipping off June 16th, Grizz Gaming is sitting in an excellent spot to carry that momentum into the tournament.
It is a tournament where Memphis will have to perform at the highest of levels as they will be competing for their playoff lives. Four weeks ago, this team looked lost, inconsistent, and lacking the chemistry to adjust throughout games. Now? The Grizz have the right energy about them to hang with any team in the NBA 2K League.
Grizz Gaming tips off their ATT “Tip-Off” tournament Tuesday night against Warriors Gaming (6-1) at 6:00 CT on ESPN2, then will follow that on the same night with a 8:00 CT matchup with Pacers Gaming (4-3).