With NBA 2K League Players a few weeks away from returning to their markets following a long offseason, Grizz Gaming had a successful offseason of their own. Three new faces enter season four in Beale Street Blue, and three familiar faces return to Memphis.
Having four 2021 NBA 2K League Draft picks, I explained the importance of building around their Point Guard Vandi, and their Center in Authentic African following their successful offseason with Bright Lights. General Manager and Head Coach Lang Whitaker took a unique approach to the offseason following three straight seasons with no playoff appearances with the Grizz - accumulating assets.
Not did they accumulate assets (picks), but they trusted player progression with his two horses in Vandi and Authentic this offseason. Player progression in the 2K League is lacking, but with Whitaker’s background around the NBA has leaned on that. Not only that, but he stuck to his guns throughout the interview process including Vandi and Authentic in each interview.
“That was the only interview where the players (retained) were included,” the 14th pick in the 2021 2K League Draft Spartan2K discussed his impression with Grizz Gaming. “I feel like I would be crazy to not let those guys (Vandi and Authentic) weigh in on the interview process,” Whitaker talked about his unique approach to interviewing players before the draft.
Grizz Gaming’s DNA for Season 4:
As far as DNA purposes, the Grizz focused on defensive-minded guys, and all-around good players. Grizz Gaming took Chess2K with their 16th overall pick to play shooting guard this season for Memphis. “We wanted a sharp that wasn’t only a good shooter, but could create when the shot clock was running down,” Whitaker described his 16th pick.
Chess has a past of playing Point Guard and referenced in his post draft press conference how he can help Vandi in the backcourt. ”I ran with Vandi and Authentic this offseason a few weeks ago, and we all just vibed,” Chess described his synergy with Vandi in the backcourt.
That relationship is huge, as the Grizz struggled at times last season shooting the ball from range. In addition, the Grizz added a well-rounded Power Forward in Spartan2K, who Whitaker described as “the best defensive power forward in the draft.” Whitaker hinted at the blueprint of this team being “defensive,” and also referenced how Bright Lights won all of their offseason Finals by playing defense.
Speaking of defense, the Grizz added Kwan (followtheGod) as their small forward - lockdown defender. Lang mentioned how well Kwan shot the ball last season from the corner for Atlanta Hawks GC. “Follow, Chess, and Spartan also have a history of playing with and also against one another over the last few years,” Whitaker explained how the three newcomers have chemistry off the bat in Memphis.
The Memphis Grizzlies then locked in their season four roster locking in DDouble2K back in for his fourth season with Grizz Gaming. “He has been grinding this offseason with ‘Make It Happen’ and we know the vibes that Dan brings, and he has played almost every position in the league,” Whitaker talked about locking DDouble back in for season four.
A look ahead...
The Grizz have already been playing on league builds the last few weeks. Spartan2K has shot the ball really well from the corner at Power Forward. Vandi’s progression has continued on to the league build with the offensive threat point guard build. Follow has lived up to the hype defensively with the Two-Way Lockdown build at small forward.
Chess has not only shot the ball well with the Scoring Machine Build at shooting guard, but moved off the ball very well with his understanding of half-court sets. Double-A has been playing really well with the Center build Paint Beast on league build, the same build he shot the ball so well with this offseason.
With the regular season a month away the Grizz are working towards the bigger picture heading into season four.