We know most of the players who will be included in the first season of the NBA 2K League draft, but what about the coaches?
Most of the 17 teams have a Team Operations Coordinator or Team Manager, but not all of them have a designated coach. This could be an issue for some organizations in Year 1. Squads that aren't sound from an Xs and Os standpoint could be very vulnerable once the games begin.
Also, it may be beneficial to give the players a different voice to break the monotony. Consider this, players will be at a gaming house for 8-12 hours a day practicing, watching film, etc. If one person is expected to facilitate all of those sessions, the players man or woman in charge could become burned out.
If there is a Team Manager responsible for non-hoops related needs, a coach or staff assigned to supply strategy on both sides of the ball as well as motivation–with an Operations Coordinator overseeing the entire process–it would allow for a more diversified system.
In fact, this is more consistent with the way most team sports operate.
At some point, this could become common practice in the league. If teams start looking to hire head coaches in addition to their TMs and TOCs, there may be an opportunity for someone with hoops knowledge, esports/2K experience, and leadership skills to help the league take the next step.
The five below should be on a short list if and when that time comes. Who knows, some organizations may already have this on their roadmap to success.
By most accounts, Sam Pham has a genius-level hoop and NBA 2K IQ. Guys like RedstickGamer, one of the 2K hopefuls who reached the Club 250 point of qualification credits Pham with helping him find his game, and elevating his hoops IQ.
For years, Pham has produced some of the most helpful and well-orchestrated tutorials on the game. In an interview with Pham during the Combine process, we discussed the various types of offenses and defenses that would be effective in the competitive 2K gaming environment.
I always thought of Sam as a player-coach type, but he didn't qualify for the final 250. However, there's no questioning his ability to game plan and his knowledge of the Xs and Os in real basketball and in 2K.
The White Kite
Experience isn't an issue for The White Kite.
He's been a member of the NBA 2K community since 2014. He played college basketball, coached at the grade school, high school and AAU levels, in addition to working as a hoops trainer. On NBA 2K18's Pro-Am scene, TWK established himself as one of the better point guards in the community.
His hoops IQ was easy to see and hear in the game's I scouted as too were his leadership skills.
The owner of one of the most impressive coaching resumes in the NBA 2K Pro-Am community belongs to Shawn Vilvens. The Navy veteran is a certified coach in Cincinnati, Ohio and he has worked with Team USA Youth Development. Of course, Vilvens is also acquainted with NBA 2K culture. He played with the Pro-Am team Anonymous and participated in the Combine.
There's an obvious blend of leadership, real-life hoops and NBA 2K knowledge that would almost certainly be attractive to teams that have established a need for a coach within their organization.
When it comes to dealing with players and developing talent within a scheme, longtime 2K competitive player KSpade should be held in high regard.
His former teammate Antonio Newman aka Newdini made the 102-player pool and he talked to me about how Spade's leadership helped to shape his game and prepare him for the Combine.
The way he [Spade] can keep people calm, he doesn’t let people get frustrated with their play," Newman said. "He helped me become a better leader which in turn helped in the combine."
While Spade doesn't have formal coaching experience, there is no one who is more familiar with competitive gameplay in the NBA 2K environment. Remember all the years he asked 2K to bring back Crew? They listened and rebranded it as Pro-Am. In many ways, Spade is the godfather of 2K competitive team-up play.
Nelson Blake II
This is a bit of a darkhorse suggestion, but Nelson Blake II has the requisite hoops, 2K, esports knowledge and communication skills to be an effective coach in the NBA 2K League. I hear most of these concepts on a weekly basis as Nelson and I are co-hosts on the SimHangout on Friday nights along with 2K developer Da Czar. Blake is a comic book artist for Marvel by trade, but he also has a layered list of gaming-related qualities.
Aside from playing hundreds of games in Pro-Am, Blake is an esports aficionado with extensive knowledge of the competitive fighting game and Overwatch scene. When you meld that with his comprehensive understanding of NBA 2K and hoops, he's a fit to lead in the NBA 2K League.
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