NBA 2K League This Week: ‘Kenny Got Work’ credits teammates for success

Members of Raptors Uprising GC's 2020 team (Raptors Uprising Gaming Club/MLSE)

Week 6 of the NBA 2K League is here.

So, as usual, here’s a quick look back at the week that was and what to expect this week.

You can check out the NBA 2K League every Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet NOW.

Uprising update

After yet another easy 2-0 series sweep over Net GC, Raptors Uprising GC remain atop the standings with a perfect 7-0 record.

As a result, unsurprisingly, Uprising star point guard Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey was named the 2K League’s player of the month for May after averaging 32.9 points, 6.4 assists and 3.1 steals per game while shooting 60.8 per cent from the field and 52 per cent from deep.

“I finally got a group of guys that believe in me and they let me play the way that I’ve always wanted to play on both sides of the basketball,” Hailey said of the success he’s found this season. “I know my numbers look good individually, but it’s all thanks to the team. It just shows what we’re doing on defence. We’re getting a lot of stops and we’re getting them buckets in half court.”

Of course, Hailey was the Uprising’s first-ever pick in 2018 and ever since then, the Uprising have tried to build around him.

This season the plan finally came into place thanks to the new-but-familiar personnel that was brought in.

An example of one of these guys is Maurice “ReeceMode” Flowers, who first met Uprising teammates Trent “TimelyCook” Donald and Hailey in NBA 2K14 and 2K15.

“It’s helped tremendously,” Flowers said of the familiarity most of the Uprising have with each other. “We know each other’s tendencies and things like that.”

It’s also helped push egos aside for the greater good of them.

Throughout his NBA 2K history, Flowers has traditionally played point guard, but after knowing Hailey wanted to lock in at that position before the start of the 2K League’s Season 3, he started working on playing off the ball to make it into the league and, as luck would have it, ended up getting taken by the Uprising in the third round where he would be reunited with friends Hailey and Donald.

“Part of the reason [why I could] accept my role with no problem is because it goes back to us playing with each other for years,” said Flowers. “Me and Kenny have sort of reversed roles this year. I’ve always been the point guard of the team, but Kenny always was able to play it because he’s just that good at the game. … So accepting a role is no problem because we’re all kind of versatile at the game.”

A selfless team, while Hailey credited his teammates for the monster MVP-like season he’s been enjoying so far, Flowers and the rest of the team want him to enjoy all the individual accolades because he’s earned it all.

“We let him enjoy [the individual honours] because we’ve known even in Season 1, Season 2 what he was capable of, he just didn’t want to quite to lock into that role and we can understand why,” said Flowers. “But now he’s got some guys with him now and we’re behind him 110 per cent. So he can give us a little credit but we’ll let him take that credit.”

Regardless of who takes the credit for the team’s success, the Uprising have been undoubtedly the league’s best team and they’ll look to go to 8-0 against Blazer5 Gaming, a team that, for the first time in its history is in a bit of a tailspin, has recorded three regular-season losses for the first time in its existence.

Last season’s MVP Neadal “Mama Im Dat Man” Nasser and star centre Dayne “OneWildWalnut” Downey still make up the core of Blazer5 – and former Uprising player Georgio “OOC Slim” Bonte is on the team, too – but it would seem as if the team is going through issues it’s never had to navigate before.

They play Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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Around the league

Looking elsewhere around the league, fellow unbeaten club Warriors Gaming Squad will be pitting their 6-0 record against Jazz Gaming this week, a team that’s surprised so far with their 3-1 record.

The success Warriors Gaming Squad and Jazz Gaming have seen is indicative of a larger trend this season where traditionally weaker teams have come to prominence, with Kings Guard Gaming, led by Scarborough, Ont., native Yusuf “Yusuf_Scarbz” Abdulla, also among former bottom-feeders to league’s elite.

This trend could be just the NBA 2K20 video game and some of the changes involved in the game compared to the previous seasons, but the true cause might lie in the fact that the league’s decision to go to a best-of-three format to determine wins and losses has weeded out the teams that are actually better and more adaptable from the ones that might have managed to get by on one strategy that’s difficult to counter without seeing it at first.

Either way, the best-of-three format does seem to have improved the quality of the league and even after this special COVID-19 season, is something the league might want to look into to sticking with.

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