A new uprising is upon us.
Toronto’s professional NBA 2K League team Raptors Uprising GC will bring four new faces North of the border in Season 3, as the NBA 2K League Draft took place in New York on Saturday evening.
And thanks to advanced analytical support in a partnership with IBM and a small team of expert scouts, the team from the North walked away thrilled with the overall results.
“We’re feeling great,” said Shane Talbot, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Esports Manager. “We had a game plan heading into the Draft and it went exactly as we hoped.”
With their first pick of the night, Raptors Uprising selected NBA 2K League Season One veteran Eric “TimelyCook” Donald 11th overall. The Cincinnati-native was thrilled to hear his name called on the big stage for the second time in his career.
— NBA 2K League (@NBA2KLeague) February 23, 2020
“I think the whole community knew that we were targeting TimelyCook with our first pick,” said Talbot, adding that Toronto had unsuccessfully tried to acquire the former Kings Guard Gaming player last offseason. “We know that Timely is going to be a first-class professional for us. We know that he’s highly skilled but also brings leadership, confidence, and intimidation into the studio.
“And we know that he knows Kenny [Got Work] better than just about anybody. In our interview, he spoke a lot about Kenny and what he believes Kenny needs around him to be really successful at point guard this year.”
Teammates on Pro-Am team “Still Trill” back in the day, TimelyCook has already shown that he can achieve success with Raptors Uprising star Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey at some of the highest levels, most notably winning the NBA 2K17 Road to the All-Star Tournament and a share of a $250,000 USD prize together.
Toronto was then back on the clock in the second round with two selections, as the professional esports club invited a special guest to announce pick no. 27.
— Raptors Uprising GC (@RaptorsGC) February 23, 2020
To a loud ovation, NBA 2K YouTube personality Agent 00 jumped on stage to share that rookie Miami-native Anthony “Wuan” Rivas would be the next player to join the team from the North—a pick that Talbot says he couldn’t pass on.
“It was all about taking best-player available for the role we needed. What we saw in Wuan was just absolutely elite stats in the key categories that we were looking at,” said Talbot. “I think Scott and Jeff on the broadcast were questioning what role he would play for us, but right now, the plan going into the season is that Wuan is going to be that elite Power Forward that can knock down shots from the corner, control the rock, and be strong defensively.”
Toronto’s emphasis on team chemistry then continued with their next pick, drafting rookie Maurice “Reece” Flowers 42nd overall, a player who is also very acquainted with point guard Kenny Got Work.
“We had a plan to unite Kenny and Reece in the backcourt, and based on our intel, we felt that Reece would probably still be there if we dropped a bit,” explained Talbot, regarding Raptors Uprising swapping second-round picks with Gen G. Tigers of Shanghai. “Kenny and Reece have been playing together for years and have a significant headstart heading into the season after playing Pro-Am together all offseason.”
That backcourt chemistry though 💉
Hyped to select @MauReexe with the 42nd pick in the #NBA2KLeagueDraft
— Raptors Uprising GC (@RaptorsGC) February 23, 2020
While he wasn’t on the squad when they won the $250,000 USD tournament, Reece has also had successful stints on Pro-Am team “Still Trill” alongside Kenny and TimelyCook, and has also been Pro-Am teammates with centre Jerry “Sick x 973” Knapp. Toronto is hoping that history and familiarity will translate into success on the bigger stage.
Finally, not to be outdone, Talbot and co. saved their last pick of the draft for arguably one of the best moments of the night. At no. 52, Toronto selected Jake “Legit 973” Knapp, the younger brother of Sick x 973.
“Yes, it’s a great story, the first brother teammates in the NBA 2K League, and especially emotional given Jerry and Jake tragically lost their mom just before Christmas,” explained Talbot. “But, I was clear with Jerry from the beginning: we were not going to take his brother simply because he was his brother. Our scouting and analysis needed to support the pick.
“We knew with our last pick that we wanted to go with someone we would have chemistry with, someone that we could develop, someone who was going to be humble and accept that role, and there were a few guys in the pool that fit that mould for me. But then we dug into Jake’s stats—and we do pretty advanced analysis with IBM—certain mechanical skills can be analyzed through numbers, and his showed us what we needed to see there, but he’s also shown he has the potential and commitment in the lab to be a ball handler who geeks out on dribbling.”
That sentiment appears to be the general consensus when speaking to those who are familiar with Legit 973, who recently became draft-eligible after turning 18 in June.
“He actually used to teach me all of the dribble moves in 2K15 and 16,” Sick x 973 told the NorthCode crew in their latest episode.
Nothing was the same #NorthCode S2E6: OFFSZN
— Raptors Uprising GC (@RaptorsGC) February 22, 2020
The two brothers will join Kenny Got Work and the other three new 2020 draftees next season at the Bell Fibe House, the high-tech gaming home of the players along the Lakeshore in Toronto where the players live and train during the season.
And while Raptors Uprising fans should be excited to catch a glimpse of the four-new faces representing the North in 2020, according to Talbot, their biggest difference-maker in Season 3 may actually come from within.
“I think we’re going to see Kenny reach a potential at point guard that we have yet to see. He has been very focused this offseason. He’s grinding the game. He’s proved it in Pro-Am,” said Talbot. “He’s got comfort with Reece in the backcourt and with TimelyCook playing lock for him. I’m very excited to see how that translates into his performance this season.”
In total, 68 players were drafted on Saturday night as Season 3 is shaping up to be the most-anticipated one yet.
And with an exact tip-off date to be determined, the start of the NBA 2K League Season 3 is just around the corner! Make sure you follow along with @RaptorsGC on Twitter for updates.