Grizz Gaming’s journey to the top of the NBA 2K League standings has been been a grind, but the journey is just beginning.
You may or may not of heard of the group of guys representing the Memphis Grizzlies on the sticks, but while the world abruptly got turned upside down due to COVID-19, the NBA 2K League continued. Sitting in their apartments in Memphis, Grizz Gaming has united together to become a top-tier 2K League team.
The definition of “expectation” according to Merriam-Webster is “the act or state of expecting: Anticipation.
Expectation for Memphis this season, at least from a local standpoint, was excitement. The Grizz retained one of the better scoring Point Guards in Vandi, and traded during the 2K League draft for a former 2K League Champion in Goofy.
Adding and retaining those pieces alone had Memphis ranked ninth most likely to win the 2020 NBA 2K League Championship before the season started, according to OddShark.
This season, Grizz Gaming is slowly making a reputation for themselves. A bottom-tier team in year one, and the falling two games short of a playoff birth last season, Grizz Gaming looks like they’re ready for the next steps of their progression - creating a positive reputation on the court and around the league.
One guy has been around to see the good, the bad, and the ugly - Authentic African. Meyhar Ahmed-Hassan, or “Double A,” has been with the Grizz since the inaugural season of the 2K League. Known as one of the “nicer” guys in the 2K League, you wouldn’t be too shocked to know that Double A takes care of the small things, and switching his player archetype to a two-way finisher (defensive build) would be the missing piece for Memphis’ defense.
Following Double A’s archetype switch, Vandi continuing to be the offensive weapon the team needs.
There was a huge matchup on June 9th. The Grizz were going for their fourth straight win, but this game was different. A statement win would be needed to change the reputation of this club, especially this season.
The Grizz Break Out:
The NBA 2K League Broadcast opens up with play-by-play analyst Scott Cole and Dirk “the caster” welcoming the audience to another night of 2K League action. Then, go over the highlights from the opening action on the night as it concludes. On this particular night, Grizz Gaming would headline the 8:00 P.M. games on this night on ESPN2.
Cole and Dirk discuss how big a game it would be for Memphis. As Grizz Gaming takes on T-Wolves Gaming - who sat second in the 2K League standings at the time - they had the opportunity to show that they belong, with a chance to break even after a 0-4 start.
The Tissot Countdown clock starts to tick down, as we tune into the apartments of Grizz Gaming point guard Vandi and T-Wolves Gaming point guard BearDaBeast — remote play has become the new reality of gaming due to COVID-19. With 10 seconds left on the countdown clock, Vandi is like any one of us that games, takes a sip of Redbull and sits back in his gaming chair.
Vandi, wearing his headset, and listening DDouble, JRod, Double-A, and AuthenticAfrican communicate with one another. You don’t see much of a reaction from Vandi throughout game one. He sat still back in his chair, taking the body blows that the Wolves threw at them. He’s quiet, down 20-plus points, but still focused ... maybe not on game one anymore, but focused on what can change in a game two to force a game three in this best of three series.
Memphis would lose by 39 points to the hot Wolves in game one, a regular event for this team. Dropping only 11 points and eight turnovers, game two had to be better, and Vandi knew that as he sat in his chair listening to the other five guys on the headset. If you look to the right-hand side of the screen, T-Wolves Gaming Point Guard BearDaBeast is going nuts, as he shut Vandi and company down in game one. It was a solid performance from the Wolves, but things would change in the next two games.
Game two tips off, and Vandi “pro eights” down the floor, dribbling between the legs down the floor with his scoring machine archetype. This time, Memphis made an adjustment. They brought their defensive captain “Double A” and Vandi down to pinch on the full court press, making things difficult for the Wolves, who are an up-tempo team, to play a muddier style of basketball.
There was a sequence that defines this team in that series. Wolves Gaming forward Big Saint dribbled into the paint with the shock clock winding down. He put up a shot up, and Grizz Gaming big man, Goofy snatched the ball out of the air. Once Goofy snatched the ball, Vadi was already at half court, and Grizz sharpshooter JRod was streaking to the right corner. Vandi then dribbled to the top of the key and threw a left handed pass to JRod in the corner.
So, I got to thinking about the @Goofy757__ snatch block again Wolves Gaming. How it played out after, and I’m not comparing the two, but it’s crazy how similar these two plays played out (1/2) pic.twitter.com/T08RcHpyEf— Brendan Smart (@bsmart21) July 2, 2020
Vandi would go on to drop a combined 60 points on 24/42 shooting (57.2%) in games two and three. While the scoring was there, the Grizz were able to hold the Wolves to less than 50% shooting from deep in games two and three.
Authentic would go on to be a Player of the Week nominee after his performance in games two and three, and Goofy just dominated the glass.
Something Memphis has built a reputation on has been resiliency — bouncing back in games two and three after a game one loss. A statement win, one that carried into a statement TIPOFF Tournament performance, granted Grizz Gaming didn’t win the tournament, but escaped Pool Play, and advanced to the final eight teams in the tournament - something that the Grizz have never done.
Wish we could have went further but we continued to take steps in the right direction and I know we'll come back better than ever. Really proud of the guys— AuthenticAfrican (@AuthenticAfr) June 19, 2020
Sitting at 5-5, coming off of their by week next Tuesday, Grizz Gaming will take on a very successful Blazers5 Gaming team. For Grizz Gaming, it will be another opportunity to raise their expectations and continue their growth in this 2020 2K League season.
Just like GrzNxtGen, who will be back on the court at the end of this month to finish out their unprecedented 2020 run, Grizz Gaming is still here, and they’re setting the standard for the NxtGen of Grizz Gaming in season 3.
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