The grind is real. Winning 50 games in NBA 2K18’s Pro-Am mode is no simple task, either when playing with pre-existing teammates or playing with random gamers. Some players have already hit the 50-win plateau; some draft hopefuls have actually gotten some sleep and are not yet at that mark. There’s still plenty of time: players need to have etched their name in the win column by January 31. This league, though, is a life-changing opportunity and a huge goal for many people, and so pressure is bound hang overhead.
That being said, here are five things to keep in mind as you proceed toward your 50th win.
Words To Play By
To quote Brendan Donohue, the league’s marketing director and main public face:
“It’s all about commitment — the fact that you’ve won 50 games is what shows us that commitment. February will be more focused on in-depth analysis of player skills.” (via Reddit)
Let’s elaborate on that a little bit.
Winning More Than 50 Games Is Not Necessary
You don’t need to exert yourself after you’ve hit the 50-win mark. The NBA 2K League and its individual teams are not more likely to draft a player who wins 100 games than a player who wins “only” the requisite 50. Yes, the baseline was established to find those who are more dedicated, but the league isn’t looking for only the most dedicated players. Anyone who meets the requirement in a month will have demonstrated that they are sufficiently dedicated. Far better to improve in areas you may be weak in than to continue to grind away unnecessarily.
February Tryouts Are Far More Important
This is where the field will truly narrow itself down. Tryouts will involve games and drills on equal footing in order to flush out the best 2K players, not just those with talent enabled by high overalls. The level playing field (level playing court?) will exhibit the league’s objective of competition determined by the user — not computer-given — skill. It is based on this, not on January performance, that the league’s teams will be able to identify desired players. League coaches and officials will have access to behind-the-scenes analytics to determine the best players in the world and those worthy of being drafted. These tryouts are where you will make your mark.
If You’re Getting Your Name Out There, Be Mature
Remember the Sportscenter commercial where Stuart Scott (RIP) and Karl Ravech lecture then-rookies Kobe and Keyshawn Johnson on interacting with the media? Theirs is perfect advice not to take. If you’re getting your name out there in the hope that your exposure will improve your draft stock (about which more anon), be mature. Teams aren’t looking for self-centered ballhogs, and they aren’t looking for people who curse up a storm or constantly scream at their teammates. Avoid the actions, or more precisely the temper tantrums, of other esports players. Teams want the people they select to be marketable, and that means being more professional than infantile.
Exposure Is Good, But Not Imperative
This is perhaps the most contentious point so far. The unscientific theory out there is that teams have their draft boards set based on popular Twitch streamers or YouTubers. This is false. Teams may be aware of players already based on previous exposure, but more exposure does not equal better draft stock. The league is not looking to attract only people who already follow NBA 2K games; it is looking to attract as many fans as possible, which is more easily done with high quality play. They want the best players, not necessarily players with previous access to markets that the league will naturally attract. If your name is out there, great. If not, just worry about hitting 50 wins and performing well in February.
What are your thoughts on the state of the NBA 2K League thus far? What are your hopes, dreams, questions, concerns and angry rants?