The NBA 2K League has notified the 250 players selected for its inaugural draft pool by email, as well as those many players whom the league did not select. March, which holds in it player interviews and later, the draft, is here, and with it the beginning of the inaugural NBA 2K League season. That being said, here are five things to look forward to in the league’s first year.
Many of the top NBA 2K gamers in the world (or at least North America) will be competing in the league. Not only are these players talented, but they will also have had lots of time to prepare together and work together — singularly focused since they will be living and playing together constantly — in the pursuit of one particular goal. Coaches, film sessions and sheer chemistry building will enable teammates to attain a level of synchronicity and teamwork that no Pro-Am team can match. It’s going to be exciting no matter what, but it’s also going to be good.
Pro-Am Gameplay Will Improve
Pro-Am players will watch NBA 2K League games and will learn from them. It’s difficult to translate basketball learned from watching NBA games onto the virtual hardwood, but quality gameplay on the virtual hardwood will translate quickly and effectively to the more informal Pro-Am court. All players will finally have the ability to watch some of the top competitive NBA 2K players in the world, and the skills and tricks they pick up from them will make their way over to the regular Pro-Am courts. The league’s quality gameplay will improve Pro-Am gameplay.
The Game As A Whole Will Improve
For those non Pro-Am players, this league is nonetheless a good thing. Consider: the game itself — each NBA 2K iteration the league uses — will come under intense scrutiny from all sides because of its use in a professional league. Thus apparent flaws will be obvious and the development team, which takes pride in the product, will do their best to eliminate any flaws due to the game’s increased publicity. One possible consideration, however, is that if the league maintains its current schedule, May–August (so as not to conflict with the real NBA), flaws made apparent by the competitive gameplay will have a shorter window in which to be fixed. On the flip side, however, major flaws will likely have been fixed by the time the league starts up each year.
Competitive Summer Basketball!
The trade off with the gameplay and real NBA cycle is that there will be competitive summer basketball! In July and August in particular, the NBA will do its best to highlight the league and promote its own new year-round nature. After the Finals are over, basketball fans will have an NBA league to focus on whose players are the best in their field, not some twelve-points-a-game senior from Marquette trying to earn a two-way contract in the Las Vegas Summer League (though you heard it here first: the NBA 2K League could well play a weekend or two’s worth of games in Vegas to correspond with that current NBA institution).
A New Hope
Arguably the best thing to look forward to about the league is that it’s the first of its kind. I’ve harped on this lots before, but the steps the NBA 2K League takes will set precedents for the other leagues and sports following behind it. Watching the first season of the league offers not only a chance to get in on the ground floor, but to see the progression of the North American sports/esports relationship. The NHL is following suit, as is the MLS and, likely, the NFL. But the NBA is first, and whatever they offer with the NBA 2K League will be the template for whatever other leagues on their way will offer.