NBA 2K

Everything You Need To Know Leading Up To The NBA 2K League’s Second Season

The second season of the NBA 2K League is approaching. The league, which is a joint venture between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of the NBA 2K franchise, kicks off on April 2 and will run through the beginning of August (the league announced the full schedule, which you can find here).

Let’s take a look at the league, how it’s structured and some of the changes heading into season two:

  • Each of the league’s 21 teams will participate in 16 regular seasons contests, all of which will be played at the NBA 2K League Studio in New York City.
  • Games will be played weekly on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
  • All games will be live-streamed on the league’s Twitch channel.
  • The prize pool has been increased to $1.2MM – a 20% increase over last year’s award – and teams will receive a portion of the pool based on tournament wins and league playoff outcomes.

Breaking Barriers

This season will feature a female professional esports player for the first time after the Warriors drafted Chiquita Evans during the March 6 draft. The inaugural season didn’t feature a female player and the league set out to solve the issue. It searched the data and found that male players weren’t passing the ball to female teammates enough during games and it skewed the evaluation metrics.

”It made us put more emphasis on how good a player was when they got the ball in their hands,” managing director Brendan Donohue said earlier this month. ”That’s the only part of it they can control.”

The league also added sessions to its transition program (similar to the NBA’s rookie symposium) to help Evans and other female players overcome challenges they break into a male-dominated space.


Which NBA Teams Are Participating?

The inaugural season consisted of 17 teams and the Knicks took home the championship. This season, four more teams (Atlanta, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Minnesota) were added via an expansion draft. Here’s the full list of NBA 2K clubs:

  • Blazers: Blazers5 Gaming
  • Bucks: Bucks Gaming
  • Cavaliers: Cavs Legion GC
  • Celtics: Celtics Crossover Gaming
  • Grizzlies: Grizz Gaming
  • Hawks: Hawks Talon GC *
  • Heat: Heat Check Gaming
  • Jazz: Jazz Gaming
  • Kings: Kings Guard Gaming
  • Knicks: Knicks Gaming
  • Lakers: Lakers Gaming *
  • Magic: Magic Gaming
  • Mavericks: Mavs Gaming
  • Nets: Nets GC *
  • Pacers: Pacers Gaming
  • Pistons: Pistons GT
  • Raptors: Raptors Uprising GC
  • Sixers: 76ers GC
  • Wolves: T-Wolves Gaming *
  • Warriors: Warriors Gaming Squad
  • Wizards: Wizards District Gaming

* Expansion teams


Format Of The Game And Rosters?

Each team is made up of six players (one at each traditional position and a sixth man), with each participant controlling one player while 5-on-5 competition takes place.

The competitors don’t play with pre-existing created players but rather in Pro-Am mode, where there are presets based on each position to ensure balance among teams, meaning one player will not beat the other because the former has the skills of LeBron James and the latter has Michael Carter-Williams‘ arsenal (sorry, MCW).

How Are The Players Compensated?

The league’s 126 players are compensated between $33-37K, depending on where they were drafted, and each player is on a six-month contract. Relocation and housing costs are provided by the league and the players received health benefits and retirement plan contributions as well.

Teams are made up of professional esports players, thus they are not restricted by amateur status, so they are eligible to sign endorsement deals. Several players are well known in the gaming community and already have deals in place.

Can Players Be Traded?

During the first season, trades were not allowed. For the second, the league added two designated trading periods. One was a two-week period that ended on October 10. The other has yet to be determined, but it will occur during the 2019 season. There have been five trades in league history, per the league’s transaction log.

How Are Playoff Teams Determined?

Eight teams make the playoffs in total. There are three tournaments during the season — The Banner Chain: The Tipoff, The Turn, and The Ticket. The winner of The Ticket clinches a postseason spot, along with the teams owning a top-seven record during the regular season. If The Ticket winner is already in the top seven, then the top eight teams gain entry to the playoffs.

Key playoff dates:

  • Wednesday, July 24, 2019: Postseason begins.
  • Saturday, August 3, 2019: The 2019 NBA 2K League Finals (best-of-five series).

And-Ones: Cuban, Draft, Maledon, 2K League

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn’t mind lowering the minimum draft age from 19 to 18, but points out that it creates another set of issues, as he explained to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

Cuban notes that most players out of high school don’t have general life skills, such as writing a check or signing a lease. He also sees the influence of AAU coaches and teams becoming even more pervasive if the age minimum drops.

“The really bad unintended consequence is you’re going to see AAU programs and parents push harder to get kids featured, maybe at the expense of their education, maybe at the expense of really learning how to play basketball because they’ve got coaches that are telling him, ‘Yeah, he’s got a chance to be a ‘none-and-done,'” Cuban said.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • League executives are already dreading the extra time, money, and analysis it will take to scout high school prospects, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes in a lengthy piece on the pros and cons of reducing the draft age minimum to 18. Eliminating the one-and-done prospects could make it tougher for lottery teams to land a marquee player, since there will likely be more steals and more busts in the draft. A system that would allow players to be selected in the draft without losing college eligibility could help the process, O’Connor adds.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon, a Tony Parker protege, could be the top international prospect in the 2020 draft. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz takes a closer look at next year’s international group and notes that the 17-year-old Maledon is now the starting point guard for ASVEL, the club Parker oversees as president. ASVEL is the first-place team among 18 in France’s top league. Maledon could become the second-ever 18-year-old EuroLeague starter, following in the footsteps of Luka Doncic, when ASVEL moves up to the prestigious league next season, Schmitz adds.
  • The NBA 2K League will begin its 18-week season on April 2 and conclude with the Finals on August 3, according to a league press release. All regular-season games will take place at the NBA 2K League Studio in Long Island City, New York, and will be live-streamed on Twitch.

And-Ones: Withey, Nunnally, K. Porter, NBA 2K

Former NBA center Jeff Withey, who has logged over 200 career games for New Orleans, Utah, and Dallas, is exploring opportunities in China after parting ways with his Turkish club last month. According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link), a report suggesting that Withey has reached a deal with the Shanghai Sharks is inaccurate, but the big man has tried out for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls.

Meanwhile, another former NBA player, James Nunnally, is a candidate to head back overseas after being waived by the Timberwolves last week. As Carchia relays, Nunnally continues to weigh his options after being linked to Spanish team Baskonia.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Top 2019 draft prospect Kevin Porter Jr. has been suspended for “personal conduct issues” by USC, the team announced over the weekend. Trojans head coach Andy Enfield said after Sunday’s game that the suspension is indefinite, per J. Brady McCollough of The Los Angeles Times. “We’ll re-evaluate his future with the program this week,” Enfield said. In his most recent 2019 mock draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony had Porter, a freshman guard, coming off the board at No. 11 overall.
  • One executive who spoke to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports today cautioned against reading too much into reports on trade discussions or inquiries (Twitter link). “Be careful of these reports of teams talking,” the executive told Smith. “I mean, everyone is talking to everyone else. It’s trade season. Of course we’re all talking. I have 20 conversations a day at least that go nowhere as far as deals go, but it just takes one.”
  • The NBA, NBPA, and 2K announced today in a press release that they’re extending their partnership. The agreement, which ensures that NBA teams and players will continue to appear in the NBA 2K franchise for the foreseeable future, is believed to be worth $1.1 billion over seven years, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, who notes (via Twitter) that’s more than double the value of previous deals.

And-Ones: BIG3, Cook, Larrier, NBA 2K

The BIG3 has fired commissioner Roger Mason Jr. in the wake of an alleged corruption scandal and replaced him with rapper Ice Cube, according to Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports. Mason reportedly secured the investment for the 3-on-3 league from two Qatari businessmen, who were later investigated for refusing to pay millions of dollars to the league. Mason allegedly refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to a TMZ Sports report. In a statement posted by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, Mason Jr. refuted the notion he was removed because of corruption, calling the BIG3 work environment “hostile and racist.”

In other basketball news around the country:

  • The BIG3’s second season will begin in Houston on June 22, according to a league press release. Games will also take place in Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, Miami, Toronto, Dallas and Boston during the regular season. Atlanta will host most of the playoff games with the championship scheduled for New York’s Barclays Center on August 24th.
  • Iowa’s Tyler Cook will enter the draft, but won’t hire an agent, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets. The 6’9” Cook averaged 15.3 PPG and 6.8 RPG for the Hawkeyes as a sophomore this season.
  • Connecticut swingman Terry Larrier has opted to enter the draft, he announced in a press release. The 6’8” Larrier averaged 13.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG for the Huskies in his junior season. Connecticut parted ways with head coach Kevin Ollie over the weekend.
  • The NBA 2K league will hold its inaugural draft lottery on Tuesday, according to a league press release. The E-Sports league will host its first draft, a six-round event, on April 4th.