Uprising ready for draft

Raptors Uprising Gaming Club (GC) is looking forward to filling the six-man roster at the NBA 2K League season 2 draft in New York on Tuesday March 5, 2019.

In partnership with IBM Canada, Raptors Uprising GC has worked to improve and enhance its draft strategy ahead of next week’s big event. The team has four picks in the draft to complete its six-player roster, including the No. 15 overall pick, and the draft will be crucial to the organization’s long-term success.

IBM acts as a technology partner in the draft process. With a huge amount of information available to the team, being able to effectively analyze lists, statistics, and other data is a vital aspect of the team’s draft preparation. There are more data sources available this year, and that means fine-tuning the process to produce the best results.

“This is the second season in a row that we’ve worked with IBM to prepare for the draft,” said Shane Talbot, Esports Manager for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “Working with partners who specialize in producing insights from data is hugely valuable to what we do. No data set is perfect, but you can overcome some of those imperfections using good strategy, people and tech.”

While leveraging data to inform draft decisions is important, there’s more to the Raptors Uprising GC draft strategy than just crunching numbers. Scouting talent is a remarkably human process. The team’s front office recognizes the importance of NBA 2K and Pro-Am knowledge in the evaluation process, and has adjusted its scouting system to account for more subjective input. The team relies on its 2K and basketball experts to help interpret and supplement the data.

“We have even more confidence in our experts this year,” Talbot said. Those experts helped find Kenneth (KennyGotWork) Hailey and Trevion (All_Hail_Trey) Hendrix, who now in turn contribute their own expertise from years of watching and playing the game.

“One of the reasons the team was able to have the season we had was because of how smoothly we operated outside of the game,” said Talbot. “We took that part of scouting very seriously last year and we’re taking it even more seriously this year.”

Beyond their in-game expertise, Kenny and Trey will serve as cornerstones for establishing the Raptors Uprising culture. Their experience matters not only in finding the best players but also in ensuring the team finds the right balance of personalities. The leadership both players can provide will play an important role in acclimating their new teammates to the challenge of NBA 2K League life.

The new draft pool format increases the challenge of finding the right players. This year, there are over 200 players in the draft pool and only 74 spots available. Unlike last year, when all 102 players in the draft pool were ensured a spot in the league, this year’s pool has no guarantee of being selected. In turn, teams must work harder to find the perfect fits.

For Raptors Uprising GC, that means more data sources going into the process and greater consideration for which data deserves prioritization. The team wants to make sure that all players are considered appropriately, and unknown talent won’t be disregarded. The challenge is greater, and so is the potential for success.

The absence of last year’s parameters, such as position locking, as well as a much larger draft pool, will make the challenge of drafting even more difficult.

“This year there’s going to be no forgiveness in the draft,” Talbot said.

That suits Raptors Uprising perfectly. They’re not looking for forgiveness. They’re drafting to win.