The second phase of qualifying for the NBA 2K League begins Friday with a first-of-its-kind combine. It’s the final hurdle facing those who won 50 Pro-Am games in January with aspirations of making the league.
The combine runs February 2-21, with players tasked with completing at least 40 games during this defined scouting period. So what will be the storylines to look for over the next few weeks? Let’s find out.
Unlike the qualifying stage where players had the freedom to record wins at all hours of the day, the combine will feature 12 different playing windows during which players will be scouted. The blocks are in 4- and 6-hour increments, for a grand total of 60 hours of combine play. Balancing time in one’s schedule around work, family or school commitments will be a challenging task for many. So formulating a plan of attack to set aside time for combine play will be key. Those that want it bad enough will find a way to make it happen.
There perhaps is no bigger storyline than this. What position and archetype players choose to compete with will have a huge bearing on their strategy during the combine. There are five archetypes available for each position (listed below) and players must use one primary position (PG/SG/SF/PF/C) throughout their 40 games, although switching archetypes from game to game is allowed.
Archetype badges will be applied during combine play, and there will be some level of animation customization. Some players, however, might not find their go-to archetype among the five available options at their desired position. How will that change strategy for those players, and will others using their pre-existing archetype have any edge? It will be fascinating to watch play out.
The combine could bring a slight dose of reality for certain players as it concerns playing style. It has been noted that choosing to play ‘5 out’ will be looked upon unfavorably in the eyes of the decision makers. The combine is about team ball, communication and displaying proper basketball IQ. Do those three things and players’ chances of making the league increase substantially. Don’t forget that all combine games will be treated as walk-on, meaning players will be randomly assigned to squads. It could be the first time in a while that players are forced out of the comfort zone that comes with playing with longstanding teammates. Here, everyone will be operating on the same playing field.
This can be broken down into two parts: statistics and intangibles. Players will be evaluated by specific statistics such as points, rebounds and assists, in addition to other metrics such as shot release time, pass to assist and block efficiency. Filling a stat sheet will be important, but just one part of the puzzle. Teams will also be looking for players to display the previously mentioned characteristics — meaning one can affect a game in more ways than simply numbers. Set screens, move the ball, play help defense. Since there will be no public leaderboard, players will have to treat each of their 40 games (or more) as an individual showcase.
THE FINAL 102
The conclusion of the combine will see an evaluation period, during which time it will be determined which 102 players will be selected for the draft pool. The good news is that roster sizes have since expanded from the original 85, as teams will now draft six players apiece. The competition to be one of those selected during the March draft will be fierce. The combine system was put in place to make those determinations as fair as possible. Let’s see who will shine in February.