In this week’s edition of the Grizz Gaming Gazette - the Grizz Gaming’s 2020 season came to a heartbreaking end, but there is finally a core of young talent in the 901. Grizz Gaming General Manager and Head Coach Lang Whitaker is excited about the future, and this team takes the next step.
On Friday and Saturday afternoon the Memphis Grizzlies and Grizz Gaming both took part in a tournament (or play-in) for the final seed in their respective leagues. Both of their seasons ended to the Portland teams (history, sigh).
How’s this for history? Today, the @NBA and @NBA2KLeague both had play-in competitions for the final spots in their respective playoffs. Portland won both, with the @trailblazers and @blazer5gaming punching their tickets. pic.twitter.com/onS3gJs9kj— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) August 16, 2020
After 14 weeks of NBA 2K League action, three tournaments, and a whole lot of growing, this Grizz Gaming Club is heading home for the offseason. 14 weeks of losing streaks, winning streaks, and having every reason to throw in the towel, this team “never gave up on one another, after having every reason to,” Lang Whitaker told us. Grizz Gaming is no longer a laughing stock in the League anymore. This season, they earned everything.
Normally, this team would be traveling back and fourth between Memphis and New York for their games on the “Stage,” but COVID-19 happened, and these guys played remotely from their apartments in Memphis.
Granted this is only the third season, but guys were getting used to sitting 10 feet away from their opponent and getting hype with their teammates in front of a live crowd. “We built this team to compete on the stage in New York,” Whitaker told me following their loss to Blazer5 Gaming in the Ticket Tournament.
Whitaker went all in this season, trading away two 2019 2K League draft picks to bring a 2K League Champion in GOOFY757, whom, was in fact, the missing piece on this team. Lang then brought back their sharpshooter JRod, and big man DDouble in the same day to pair with AuthenticAfrican, Vandi, and Goofy.
“Our future is bright, I’m extremely excited about our young core,” Whitaker talked about the future of this young team. This team is in fact young for your average 2K League team. The biggest leap this season on this team was Grizz Gaming Point Guard Vandi, whom is only 20 years old. “I’m extremely impressed with Vandi’s progression this year,” Whitaker spoke highly of Vandi. “He is kind of like Ja (Morant), he’s only 20 too, and is going head to head with guys that are nine or 10 years older than him.... He is only going to get better,” Lang Whitaker discussed Vandi’s progression in season three.
Vandi could’ve been discussed as a Most Improved Player of the Year Award Candidate if he league had that award. The 20 year old went from averaging 17.9 points per game last season as a rookie, to 30.9 ppg this year. “This year was more comfortable for me. Playing in front of my monitor in my apartment is just like how I got into the league,” Vandi said about the difference in year one to year two and how he’d handled “remote play.”
Grizz Gaming finished the 2020 season with their first ever tournament victory(ies), a 7-9 record (14th overall).
With the 2020 season nearly in the rear view mirror, the focus shifts to the offseason for Grizz Gaming. How many players will Lang retain? Who will they go after in the draft? Stay up to date with Grizzly Bear Blues for all of your Grizz Gaming and Memphis Grizzlies coverage.