By Kristian Cuaresma
While it is early in the season, NetsGC began their 3v3 campaign with a convincing 3-1 series win two nights ago against Pacers Gaming. The first game is rarely an indicator of how the rest of the season will go, but an early victory can keep the team’s morale intact. Last year, Brooklyn started 0-1 in the SLAM OPEN and failed to qualify for bracket play.
In the way of a perfect opening week is a pair of international opponents in NBL Oz Gaming and Raptors Uprising GC.
Representing Australia, NBL Oz Gaming is the latest expansion team to join the NBA 2K League. Expectations have historically been low for new organizations, but NBL Oz Gaming earned an impressive 2-0 start on opening night. The team’s on-court gameplay looked good, but the most interesting takeaway was how tight knit the team appeared on the league broadcast.
Meanwhile, a major revamp occurred north of the border. This past offseason, Raptors Uprising GC moved on from their entire 2022 roster and hired Roy Krishnan to be the new General Manager and Head Coach. After losing to NBL Oz Gaming on opening night, there may be early pressure for Raptors Uprising GC to recover in their own doubleheader tonight.
Expected Lineup (NBL Oz Gaming)
Player to Watch
Jyden – 12.0 points, 3.3 assists, 0.0 turnovers, 83% field-goal, 67% three-point
During his short tenure with NetsGC in 2022, Jyden cemented his reputation as one of the best 3v3 scorers in the league. In his first tournament, the rookie made an immediate impact and led NetsGC to its deepest 3v3 run of the year, creating the ‘Jyden Effect’. It seemed like a perfect fit but it all fell apart in the offseason. After going unretained by NetsGC, Jyden was selected by NBL Oz Gaming in the 2023 NBA 2K League Expansion Draft. Tonight’s reunion is one of the best storylines to follow.
Expected Lineup (Raptors Uprising GC)
Player to Watch
Gazulli – 1.0 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.0 blocks, 67% field-goal
The rookie’s stat line does not look impressive, but Gazulli played out of position in his professional debut. Toronto coveted Gazulli and traded its 2023 15th overall pick and 2023 25th overall pick to move up in the draft to secure him. Ultimately selected with the number 10 pick in the 2023 NBA 2K League Draft, Gazulli was the second shooting guard off the board and the first piece of a new roster. During their 3v3 opener, Head Coach Roy Krishnan started Mooch at guard and Gazulli at power forward. This resulted in an awkward fit and Gazulli looked like he struggled to get comfortable in his new role. Raptors Uprising GC relies heavily on advanced analytics, and it will be interesting if the data continues to support Gazulli as a shooter at power forward if his shot volume does not increase. Fans should not be surprised if he plays guard at any point tonight.