It’s Saturday, March 13 and Hawks Talon GC coach Wes Jordan and his team are on the clock with the 11th overall selection in the 2021 NBA 2K League Draft. With three picks on the night, the organization knows it has holes to fill, but filling them with the right players is more than just about putting a player on the court and saying, “Go play ball”.
The NBA 2K League is like any other professional sports league. There are managers, coaches, scouts, front offices, players and more. Everything that goes into putting a team together runs similarly to the associated NBA franchises. It’s just on a smaller scale, obviously.
But just because the organization sizes are smaller, that doesn’t mean the workload is any less.
For Jordan and his front office at Hawks Talon GC, building the organization the right way is as important as any sort of results on the court. And it all starts well before the lead up to the NBA 2K League Draft.
“We’ve been watching these players for years, even before they get to the league,” Jordan said. “Obviously seeing them maintain a level of stick skills is the main priority, but finding those players who bring the qualities of a professional to the table is a big deal.”
Those qualities range anywhere from how you act around your friends and family to being under pressure in a game. You can have all the talent in the World, but if you can’t control yourself, things just won’t work out.
“We’re all representing something much bigger than ourselves individually,” Jordan said. ”We are representing the Hawks Talon GC, the league, our families. I need players that can play, but definitely represent everyone.”
Matt Morg, one of the scouts for Hawks Talon GC, believes that seeing how a player conducts themselves in all situations is sometimes more important than the on-court talent. Players have to have a certain level of skill just to be in the pool and considered for the NBA 2K League, so there’s much more to that process.
“You know them essential as kids or teenagers,” Morg said. “You can kind of see some of them mature and some of them not.
“There’s a lot of pressure in this league. I’m talking $100,000, cameras, other people’s families at stake. How will they push through pressure on social media and stay professional through adversity? We need to have everything and look at everything”
Putting together that data requires countless hours of film study and player isolation. Whether it’s watching the same game multiple times to focus on a different player each time, or just to see how a single player handles playing in different moments, there’s no stone left unturned for teams in the league.
“People think we just sit there just go off at names and times and things like that,” scout Xavier Daniel said. “But a lot of people don’t realize that we sit down and actually watch the games, and actually build up reports and everything for these guys.”
Hawks Talon GC And Their NBA 2K League Draft Pick
This year, the top pick for Hawks Talon GC was Caesar Martinez aka Ceez. He had been scouted for a while by Jordan and his team, and was a top target early for the organization after shining during the pre-draft tournaments..
Martinez had spent time playing with 2021 2nd overall pick Enrique Barraza aka 630. Because of that talent by his side, he was put under a bit of added pressure to make sure he was up to the task of being a top player for the team.
“Ceez will tell you, I was very hard on him,” Morg said. “I wanted him to push him more because he was playing alongside a great player. And you just saw that never rattled him. As far as his Pro-Am succe, he didn’t go into a hole, he didn’t get depressed or anything like that. He kept achieving things. And that it was, it was great to see.”
While Martinez likely didn’t expect to fall to Hawks Talon GC, Jordan, Morg, and Daniel had their collective eye on him. With him there, it was no brainer to select him. But that didn’t mean there still wasn’t work being done with other targets.
Working the phones regarding possible trades and future player targets, Jordan relies heavily the rest of the front office to make sure he’s up to speed with everyone available. Whether scouted by the team or not, being unprepared for a scenario is never an option.
“In the draft room, a name came up that we didn’t have on our board, and we never talked about during the draft,” Morg said. “Wes put the phone on mute and looked at me and said, ‘Matt, I need everything about this player. I need everything about what’s going on with him’.”
Within moments, Morg, Daniel, and the rest of the team produced all of the information on the player at hand. Their position; the stats; what’s the personality like? Nothing was left unknown with there being a chance of getting a player that wasn’t even on their radar.
Having that information ready to go was a validation point for the group. Hours and hours of work on players, whether targeted or not, just to make sure there was never a “what if” situation.
“It’s crazy,” Jordan said. “We’re watching the picks come off the board, calling the league, and having constant communication. One guy is moving names around as players slip or come off earlier than we thought. Another is making sure we don’t miss anybody.
“It’s chaos. But it’s fun chaos.”
The pre-season chaos will turn to championship chasing chaos when the 2021 NBA 2K League season kicks off in May. Hawks Talon GC is looking to get to the playoffs after just missing out by a game in 2020.
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How will they push through pressure on social media and stay professional through adversity?