NBA basketball might be on hold, but its players have partnered with ESPN to give us something that vaguely resembles it as the United States continues to endure a prolonged coronavirus-driven lockdown. Players from around the league agreed to participate in an "NBA 2K20" tournament with full games and commentary from the participants televised.
That tournament kicked off with four games Friday. Four of the 16 participants moved on, and the results were as follows:
- No. 16 Derrick Jones Jr. 78, No. 1 Kevin Durant 62
- No. 10 DeAndre Ayton 57, No. 7 Zach LaVine 41
- No. 2 Trae Young 101, No. 15 Harrison Barnes 59
- No. 14 Patrick Beverley 84, No. 3 Hassan Whiteside 54
With one day of games in the books, here are our biggest takeaways from the NBA's attempt to provide fans with some sort of live content while actual games remain on hiatus.
Seeding is a lie
If this were the NCAA Tournament, every bracket in America would be busted. No. 1 Kevin Durant fell to No. 16 Derrick Jones Jr. No. 3 Hassan Whiteside was beaten by No. 14 Patrick Beverley. No. 10 DeAndre Ayton took down No. 7 Zach LaVine. Friday was anarchy.
This is the sort of chaos that comes from a tournament with no preliminary rounds. Seeding was based on "NBA 2K" ratings rather than actual video gaming acumen. Would it have killed them to actually screen these players before bracketing them?
Even if a player's virtual skill matched his NBA production, the bracket remained irreparably flawed. Whiteside has a better "NBA 2K" rating than Patrick Beverley because his entire game revolves around accumulating counting stats. No team that actually wanted to win would choose the former over the latter. Seeding was hardly necessary if this was the result. Just pair players randomly.
The Bucks are the most popular 2K team
Players were allowed to use a given team only once for the duration of the tournament, and they made their preferences quite clear. Three of the eight players spent their first pick on the Milwaukee Bucks. No other team was taken twice, with the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Heat and Raptors each filling one slot. As players weren't allowed to pick the same teams in a game, it's worth noting that only one game didn't include the Bucks. Before the NBA hiatus, the Bucks owned the league's best record (53-12), so it's not surprising most of the players wanted a chance to control the reigning MVP.
Interestingly, not a single player in today's field chose his own team. Not coincidentally, only two of the eight players who participated Friday play on teams currently above .500: Beverley with the Clippers and Jones with the Heat. It seems that those participating cared more about winning than representing their employers.
Patrick Beverley is psychic
Before his game began, Patrick Beverley made a bold prediction. He claimed that he would defeat Hassan Whiteside by 30 points.
Fast-forward around an hour. Beverley beat Whiteside by exactly 30 points, 84-54. Does this forebode a Clippers championship? At the very least, it makes Beverley one of the favorites in this 2K tournament, not necessarily because he can see the future, but because winning a 24-minute game by 30 points is just extremely impressive.
Whiteside, a member of the Portland Trail Blazers in real life, played as the Lakers in his blowout loss to Beverley. The Blazers are one of many small-market Western Conference teams whose social media identities revolve around their one-sided hatred of the Lakers. That is what spurred this wholly unnecessary Twitter drive-by.
No word yet from the Laker-hating Sacramento Kings, likely because Harrison Barnes' 42-point loss was the worst of the night.
Not even video games can create trash-talkers out of thin air
Let's be honest: the first night of this tournament was boring. Beverley spiced up the ending, but that's an unfair standard because he could spice up a baby shower. The normal human beings that participated in this tournament weren't exactly trading barbs. All things considered, it was a dull start to a tournament that had real potential. Whether players are unwilling to open up in front of cameras or if this tournament needs a broadcaster to host the games and stimulate conversation is unclear, but what we saw on Friday wasn't exactly thrilling content.