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Lang’s World: Grizz Gaming is ready to run it back

by Lang Whitaker | Grizz Gaming GM

It wasn’t all that long ago that Grizz Gaming ended season one of the NBA 2K League. We finished strong but didn’t make the playoffs, and while I was disappointed to not be involved in the postseason, I was also hopeful, because I could see a path forward. We had our two retained players, Authentic African and Universal Phenom, who we could build around. And we would have the seventh pick in the season two draft to select a player who would hopefully be another building block.

That was all back in August. Earlier this week, we officially started our journey into season two with the NBA 2K League Draft, when we selected four players to round out our roster. Which was really the culmination of weeks of work Since the draft pool had been finalized about a month ago, our Grizz Gaming crew has spent so many hours going through the players, thinking through the possibilities, and basically just trying to ready ourselves for any variable that got thrown at us. Along with our newly-added scout/assistant coach Michael “Purp” Thomas, myself and Authentic and Universal have been exchanging ideas and observations and plans, trying to sift through pages and pages and pages of stats and notes and data. While there was a ton to figure out, the best part about it was that after we crunched the numbers, we were all mostly on the same page when it came to the players at the top of our draft board.

Zach Vandivier

Zach Vandivier poses for a picture after being picked in the first round, seventh overall by Grizz Gaming in the 2019 NBA 2K League draft on March 5, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center.

With the seventh overall pick, we drafted Vandi (Zach Vandivier), a point guard out of Cleveland. In the second round we added Jayrod (Justin Rodriguez), a shooting guard from New York City. During that lead up to the draft, after sorting through all of the options that were available and considering where we were selecting, at some point we identified Vandi and Jayrod as the ideal backcourt for our system. Of course, we figured there was no way we would be able to draft both of them, and I quietly suspected our best-case scenario might be getting just one of the two. But somehow we were able to get both of the players we wanted, which left us feeling confident heading into the third round.

We also wanted to draft a small forward who could lock down opposing players, and one of the guys high on our list was ToXsiK (Brandon Raudenbush), out of Miami, who played for Cavs Legion GC in the 2K League last season. We figured he’d be gone by the time we got to the third round, but when we made our choice, ToXsiK was still on the board, which made it an easy choice. And with our final selection, we wanted to find someone versatile enough to fill in wherever he might be asked to play, and also willing to play a supporting role. So we turned to one of our former players, DDouble2K (Daniel Davis), who we obviously knew well and were glad to bring back to Memphis.

Looking at our roster, we feel like we addressed our major need from season one, which was getting more scoring on the court. We also managed to put together a group of players who have all played with or against each other at some point, and that shared experience will hopefully make us stronger from the start.

And that start is now. Tomorrow we’ll start booking flights to get our players into town, and after a couple of weeks of scrimmaging and tightening things up, before you know it we’ll be getting back on the plane to head to New York for the season opening tournament.

Last year we competed. This year it’s time to get some W’s.

Who’s ready to run it back?

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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