A very interesting, late-2k18 cycle matchup between Pro-Am teams SelfTaught (ST) and Throwdown (TD) in a best-of-five series.
Throwdown, composed of mostly league players and coaches, lost the first game before jumping out to a remarkable 25-0 lead in game two, hanging on in a surprisingly close game for the victory. SelfTaught bounced back to win the next two games, taking the five-game series in four.
Caveats: most of Throwdown has been playing on the NBA 2K League build for the last several months, and on different teams, while SelfTaught has stuck together and played standard Pro-Am.
I’d like to talk a little bit about SelfTaught, considered the hottest team in Pro-Am, playing a team full of NBA 2K Leaguers, scouting them a little bit and thinking about the scouting process as a whole.
The difficulty in assessing competitive Pro-Am players shouldn’t be in whether or not they’re good or bad. Chances are, if they’ve played the game a lot and have passed qualification processes for the league, they’re good! It’s OK to have a lot of good players.
But projecting how they’ll adjust to the league and the league build, that’s different. I want to see a baseline level of skill, but I also want to see what players are doing wrong. If a guy pinches, does he listen to his teammates when they tell him not to (within reason)?
When a team is running a pick-and-roll, does the point guard have tunnel vision or can he scan the floor while still being decisive? Does the roll man take care to set a good screen, and how well does he suck in his defender and defenders from the corner? Off the ball, who’s moving?
How do the SelfTaught guys project to the league build? Similar to college football scouting, it’s easier to highlight the positives of guys whose skills are easily translatable to the NBA 2K League. It’s more difficult to look at point guards, and, when teams run pick-and-roll (as SelfTaught mainly did), the roll man.
Again, this is only based off four games by SelfTaught. It takes a few more games to get a really good understanding, but here’s how I see their five players projected to league level.
GetOnMyLevel and TrapHardX functioned as role players, shooter and defender, and those are their primary abilities. Every team needs shooting and defense, probably more so shooting, and so one would want a competent offensive defender. Shooting is harder on the league build, but good shooters are good shooters, and good NBA 2K League teams create opportunities for their pure sharpshooters.
Dhuggzz projects potentially as a sharpshooting rim protector with some nice passing ability. I’d like to see more defense out of him, but the archetype is en vogue in the league and could be a very valuable commodity. Stretch bigs who can defend are worthwhile to have. Players would be well advised to be something worthwhile to have.
PeteBeBallin was very interesting as the roll man. A plus defender and very solid rebounder, I’d love to see him become more of a self-creating threat on the roll, timing his screens more effectively (he’s already very thorough on them) collecting more defenders on the roll and thus opening up more options for his point guard. Defensively, he’ll have to sag off a little less on defense when guarding a five-out or shooting build. But that comes with the discipline of the league, and Pete could be a very talented big man at probably the slashing rebounder.
ExposeHim is an interesting case. PGs are the hardest to project. He’ll need to find a way to create space for his shot without high-powered dribbles. A little more vision in the pick-and-roll will go a long way, and ideally he’d improve his defense so as not to be a focal point of the opposing offense. But he talks well in leading his team, and even if the equanimity is a little lacking the positivity is not.
SelfTaught are a great team, and it’s the unfortunate reality that in the NBA 2K League they’ll be split up and forced to succeed on their own. Nonetheless, taking the positives they’ve gained throughout the year will help them on further teams, and cultivating their current skills and improving their lacking ones will define their 2019 career.
That’s how people will separate themselves from the rest.