Scouting Session: Pro-Am (20/08/18)

Here’s how I’m going to do scouting sessions, at least until after NBA 2k19 comes out: I’m going to solicit Twitch links on Twitter (@AJ113_OS) and find them through the site itself, and just sort of go in and out, trying to watch full games.

Again, for the moment I’m less concerned with pinpointing individual pros and cons in players games, unless by special request in a select game, but I’ll use what I see as a guide to projecting Pro-Am players into the NBA 2K League as well as offering a few general tips. I have notes on more players than are mentioned below.

Disclaimers: These reflect single games. You might have had an off night. You might have had the best game of your life. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for whether you seem to have a grasp on the game, what you can do for your team with and without the ball, and thus how you and your game might translate to the NBA 2K League.

With that out of the way, here are the streams I watched:

We Got Stick beat an Island Gang team (BeezlyL2k)

Kiss My Timbs beat Major Bump (KMTNtilikina)

New Lane beat Make It Happen (TheOfficialDc3)

Here’s an example of why projecting players is so important. Point guards in Pro-Am can easily create space with an array of fancy dribble moves. In the league, that’s not feasible. So I look for whether point guards can create space without dribble moves, or whether they make the right pass on the drive, and so on and so forth. SlayIsland lost, and I don’t remember being blown away by his statline, but his type of game might translate well to a sharpshooting playmaker in a pick-and-roll offense in the league.

I’m also interested in seeing whether they’re playing defense against the opposing point guard. More often than not, however, they’re stuck on an offball player who doesn’t get involved in PnR. This flows into the importance of communications on defense. New Lane showed some good switching in the pick and roll and in scrambles. Having a defender build at SG won’t always be viable, however.

I like players who read tendencies during the game. If, say, KMT’s Ntilikina continually drives left and gets dunks, I’d like to see players on that side read that and step in. Make the point guard make a new read rather than be able to take it to the hoop time an time again.

New Lane ran a few WDG-style actions (back cut, wing down), and the defense handled it very well (perhaps because they themselves incorporated a few of the same into their offense). On the other hand, New Lane got some really good on-ball defense on the perimeter and turned that into transition points.

Besides for back cuts, the de rigeur play seems to be the wrap up top. Teams need to polish this and make sure the screener isn’t just that. Teams that read the play will lock it down if there’s only one option. A lot of teams could really benefit for a backscreen into a jumper from the corner (like what Warriors Gaming did frequently for a while), with the option for the screener, again, to roll.

RTD_KAT played a really nice game, hitting his shots and playing nice defense against Real_Reizy. He also showed some good ingenuity and timing on his back cuts from the corner. New Lane blew out their opponents and forced a quit in the third quarter. Good, cohesive gameplay, and the shots were falling.

I also liked GlennRatty in the first game, at point guard. Made some good pass/shot decisions on the drive and hung with the opposition on defense. I checked up on him later, on Twitter, and, lo and behold, he had been one of the 250. BreezyL2K, hosting the first stream, and his teammates showed some nice chemistry and positivity in their relaxed win.

Teams are looking for smart, skilled players—quite possibly in that order. The ability to adapt, to learn, and to improve is just as if not more important than the stick skill you can demonstrate in Pro-Am. There’s a baseline requirement for that, but what will make you stand out is making the right decision, the smart play, time and time again.

Everyone can shoot. But not everyone knows when to shoot.

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