We’re back with another Take Two, where I take two disparate considerations and do absolutely nothing to connect them. This time around, we’re going to look at timeout tactics, and a little conversation I had with 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue.
The prevailing wisdom about the use of timeouts has been that the players deploy them when they judge it necessary to retain possession. They’ve been used when animations seems about to carry a player out of bounds, when a loose ball is in question, or when a player in boxed into the paint (avoiding a three-seconds call). Certain teams are more prone to spending their timeouts — Knicks Gaming, for example, is particularly prone to finding themselves down to two or three timeouts late in the second quarter. Teams have rarely used timeouts to consolidate or to revise their strategy. This goes hand in hand with the efficacy or inefficacy of coaches, who are able to communicate verbally with their players only during timeouts upon putting on the HyperX headset. Some coaches are more active than others. Pistons GT’s coach, for example, paces behind his team and exhorts them even when not able to speak to them by slamming on their chairs (the players’ own preferred mode of non-verbal exclamation). Kings Guard, on the other hand, found itself without a coach, which played a big role in the team’s failure to manage the clock properly in blowing two fourth-quarter leads. Sometimes ceding possession is worth it in order to communicate.
First and foremost, Brendan Donohue is a great guy. He’s very outgoing and eager to solicit feedback, asking whether free throws were too automatic (I don’t think so as misses have haunted teams) and how the overall experience has been. We chatted about their decision-making brain trust (a combination of NBA 2K developers and the NBA 2K League’s officials) and about the closeness and intensity of the games. He correctly assessed, at halftime of the winner-take-all Wizards DG–Warriors Gaming Squad game, that the Wizards would storm back; they did, only to cede the lead beyond repair. He knows everyone, and everyone knows him, which is a nice microcosm of the intimacy of the league and its players (though he’s not quite FamousEnough). I congratulated him on the success of the opening week and getting a player (HoodBC of Cavs Legion GC) onto SportsCenter. He laughed. “My wife is kind of mad,” he said, admitting that when he saw the SportsCenter clip, at 5:45 in the morning, he screamed. Loudly. “My wife,” the Managing Director of the NBA 2K League says with a smile, “was not happy.”