As posted to Operation Sports:
I’ve done a couple of these NBA 2K League player power rankings before, but this iteration brings the biggest shakeup in the feature’s (short) history. MVP candidacy and playoff standing played a big part, but individual branding power and marketability remains important. As a reminder, these are subjective and reflect the NBA 2K League after the all-important week 12.
5. Fab, Celtics Crossover Gaming
Fab makes his first appearance on this list. He’s emerged since being a relatively unknown (to those outside the Pro-Am community) second-overall draft pick. More importantly, he’s flourished in leading the Celtics to just short of a playoff spot. Fab has led the league in assists by an incredible margin all season, getting all teammates involved in one of the best offenses in the league. He was one of four point guards picked to lead a team in the celebrity showcase and has been discussed for the Sportsmanship award. The individual branding will come with time.
How to stick: Lead the Celtics deep into the playoffs after two consecutive tournament runs fell just short.
How to slide: Miss the playoffs and the spotlight inevitably gets dimmer.
4. Dimez, Mavs Gaming
Well, he slid due to five-game losing streak for the Mavs that coincided with a decline in his overall play. Dimez put up great scoring numbers on the shot-creating slasher, but his displacement from — and subsequent desperate replacement at point guard — shook the identity of the talented Mavs team. Nonetheless, Dimez is still the best-known NBA 2K gamer to non-league viewers, and his name and resume have rightly enabled him to accrue media engagement beyond any other player. He even nearly carried Robert Horry to a win in the NBA 2K League Showcase.
How to stick: Regain the team’s identity, close out the season with two wins and hopefully sneak into the playoffs.
How to slide: Continue looking like a disjointed team incapable of playing to the talent it possesses.
3. OneWildWalnut, Blazer5 Gaming
All the MVP and DPOY winner has done is lead his team to the top seed in the league, a tournament win and all-but-clinch the rebounding title. The individual branding is a little behind the curve, but that’s only because Walnut’s on-court achievements have soared past the preseason expectations. After all, no one has been more consistent throughout the league’s hectic first season. Few big men have shown as much defensive ability, and probably zero have contributed as much on both ends of the court as the sixth-overall pick. Walnut is long past being “doubted.”
How to stick: It’s championship or bust for Blazer5. Walnut will be hugely responsible for their success or failure.
How to slide: Well, bust. They’ll have Knicks Gaming in the first round, a talented team with a great slashing rebounder of their own at center in Goofy757.
2. Boo Painter, Wizards District Gaming
Boo has carried the Wizards into the playoffs due to his league-best scoring and, recently, his defense. Boo is one of the league’s pre-eminent shot-creating slashers, arguably the most consistent and one who shows up in the clutch. Boo was featured in a Washington Post article; his unique background — State Department to NBA 2K League — is unique, and oft-seized upon by media. The Wizards have given Boo a real chance at individual branding, as the weekly Boo-hosted “Chillin’ With My Bud” attests. While he didn’t snag the MVP, his behind-the-back dunk took home “Play of the Year” honors.
How to stick: Make the playoffs and show that the shot-creating slasher can win. We know it can score, but winning is what matters.
How to slide: Stop showing up in big games, and Boo and the team will finish a lot lower than number two.
1. iamadamthe1st, Knicks Gaming
Why is the fourth-round pick of the 12th-ranked team in first? Adam and Knicks Gaming clinched a playoff berth thanks to his MVP-winning performance in the Ticket Tournament. No one has shot better since the patch. The Knicks have regained their swag. Adam captained his NBA 2K League Showcase squad to victory. He’s a hometown kid playing in New York. Adam already had a serious YouTube following under the handle “Kudda” before joining the league, and that and his own overall brand will only continue to grow as he and the Knicks outperform expectations.
How to stick: Adding another aspect of personal branding wouldn’t hurt. Nor would a deep playoff run, beginning with an upset of Blazer5.
How to slide: The Knicks are underdogs all the way, but a drastic dip in performance and personal commitment (which won’t happen) would do.