Four NBA franchises—the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets, and Atlanta Hawks—joined the NBA 2K League as expansion teams for the 2019 season.
League Managing Director (essentially commissioner) Brendan Donohue has confirmed that there will in fact be an expansion draft, and ESPN’s Jacob Wolf has reported that the expansion draft will be held on September 28, just over a month after the conclusion the NBA 2K League season. Commissioner Donohue has not confirmed the date, but multiple sources have indicated that the 28th is indeed the date the league intends.
The league has also not confirmed the protection permutation for the 17 original teams. All speculation points to teams being allowed to retain 2 players, with the rest being released to the expansion draft pool and then, if not picked, back to the pool for the Entry Level Draft.
Assuming that process holds, here are a few suggested guidelines for the expansion teams on how to emerge from the expansion draft as a success.
- Know Thyself. As the Delphic oracle said, it’s best to have an idea what sort of team you want to run going into the draft and select players based on that. Want to run a pick-and-roll type offense such as what got Knicks gaming to the final? Look at KingQuai or Shockey, or even Arsonal should he not be protected; LykaPro or ImSoFarAhead may be available. Want some wing scoring? Shotz, Jin and IdrisDaGoat will be there in a two-player protection scenario, and Insanity could be as well. This carries over to what you’re looking for in the entry draft—finding the right players to complement a new centerpiece is just as important as trying to find a centerpiece in the expansion draft. The best teams, as the oracle said, are the ones with the most identity and integrity.
- Get what’s hardest to find in the entry draft. There are certain Pro-Am skills that translate well to the NBA 2K League. Other things don’t. If there’s someone available who who has the latter, he might be worth grabbing. The entry draft pool will be larger than the number of players to be picked, so you’ll have your fair share of options there, but some things that available expansion players have are things that are clearly present, rather than projected.
- Defensive players will be there. It’s likely that two of the best defenders in the league, NateKahl and iFeast, will be available, and there’s an outside chance AllHailTrey as well. Godddof2k and Timelycook might be on the table as well should there be a run on defenders. Offense runs the show, but defense is incredibly important, and having a defensive stopper who can also be a leader on defense is an undervalued foundation.
- Plenty of impactful two-guards in the second round. If the first round sees scorers and defenders go, finding a two-guard who’s more than a shooter isn’t a terrible idea. BallLikeSeem will almost certainly be available, TsJosh probably will be on offer, and Swizurk could find a new home through the expansion draft. It’s easy to find shooters in the entry draft, but getting a high-level off-ball guard could go very nicely with a first-round defender.
- Versatile players might be the best fallback. Certain players who didn’t settle into a particular role with their teams due to their versatility will be on offer. 24K Dropoff will likely be on the table, as could the Jazz’s OGDeedz and Magic Gaming’s UCManny. Having guys who know the league and can fit into to a system that develops from the entry draft might be the best situation in the end.
Here’s a list of the best players likely to be available in a two-player protection system. These aren’t all the players available, and the list reflects a certain expectation for player retention. Again, teams may protect these players. But for some teams, the top two is clear; I’ve left off teams whose decision might be between more than two or three players.
Blazer5 Gaming: DatBoyShotz
Celtics Crossover Gaming: One of Arsonal, MelEast
Pistons GT: One of Insanity, ImSoFarAhead
76ers GC: iFeast
Knicks Gaming: One of NateKahl, IdrisDaGoat
Raptors Uprising GC: One of KingQuai, TsJosh
Jazz Gaming: OGDeedz
Cavs Legion GC: Godddof2k
Mavs Gaming: BallLikeSeem
Wizards District Gaming: Jin
Pacers Gaming: Two of Shockey, Swizurk, TuckerLocksUp