NBA 2K League This Week: Raptors Uprising, ‘Kenny Got Work’ start strong

Raptors Uprising GC player Kenneth "KennyGotWork" Hailey. (Raptors Uprising GC)

The NBA 2K League returned to action last week for its third season.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA’s esports league has been forced to change from an offline model that saw teams competing in a studio in New York City to an online mode of play.

Also new this season is the league’s play format, with teams competing in best-of-three sets to determine match winners. Each team plays about two matches a week.

Entering Week 2 of the regular season, there isn’t much room for error for teams and we’ve already seen some clear separation from the pack.

Here’s a quick look back at the week that was and is to come in the 2K League.

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

Toronto Raptors 2K League affiliate Raptors Uprising GC had a strong week to kick off the season, beating 76ers GC and Wizards District Gaming to go 2-0. Uprising only dropped one game in their two best-of-three sets.

Star point guard Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey was named the 2K League’s Week 1 Player of the Week after averaging 34 points in the five games he played in last week, including a 51-spot in Game 2 against 76ers GC and a combined 90 points in the three games the Uprising played against Wizards District Gaming.

“It’s a team thing,” Hailey said over the phone when asked where the success he found last week came from. “Of course, having a few more guys who believe in me, that made the transition to point guard that much easier. … I focus on scoring and our defence kind of set the tone. So it’s a team thing.”

Hailey was originally drafted in the first-ever 2K League draft by the Uprising in the first round as a point guard, but played mostly as a point forward at the three through his first two seasons. This season, however, he’s made the transition to point guard, dedicating a lot of his time from when NBA 2K20 first came out right up until the start of the 2K League season to perfecting and mastering point-guard play in the new game.

“I put in a lot of hours and I grinded to Legend,” said Hailey. “[I’m not sure] how many hours it took me to get Legend because it’s not like a [race]. It’s a body of work and I definitely spent all off-season to perfect point guard and it shows.”

With a new focus as a primary scorer at the point guard position, Hailey looks primed for a monster year and with nearly an entire roster – all but Hailey and centre Gerald “Sick One” Knapp is a new player on the Uprising – built to best take advantage of Hailey’s talents at the one, Raptors Uprising could be in for a big year.

Their matches this week are against Toronto native Mehyar “AuthenticAfrican” Ahmed-Hassan and the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. ET and Hornets Venom GT on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET, a team that caught Hailey’s eye last week as one of just four teams, including the Uprising, to go undefeated.

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Around the League

It was a rough start to the season for defending 2K League champions T-Wolves Gaming as they got swept in their first match against the Hawks Talon GC. They looked like their old champion selves again in their second match versus Bucks Gaming with star point guard Michael “BearDaBeast” Key finding some of the form he had last season.

T-Wolves Gaming have only one match this week against a 76ers GC team that has yet to win a game, let alone a full match, so the champs figure to be fine heading into Week 2.

In other news around the league, it’ll be of particular interest to monitor how Dhwan “ShiftyKaii” White of Chinese expansion team Gen.G fairs this week. An early MVP candidate, White averaged 39 points in the six games he played last week, including a 57-pointer against Lakers Gaming as his Tigers went 1-1 during the week.

We’ll have our eye on him to see if he can keep up this torrid pace.

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