If you’re like me, you’re new to the NBA 2K League and Jazz Gaming. Recently, I got a chance to visit the Jazz Gaming practice facility and play against #1 overall pick Spencer “Ria” Wyman. After everything I’ve learned, I’ve become a big fan, and you should too.
Sitting on the second floor of Vivint Smart Home Arena, the practice facilities for Jazz Gaming are fantastic. Players have a section of the arena set apart just for the team to prepare for their upcoming games.
Similar to the new facilities for the Utah Jazz, Jazz Gaming has been set up with the best possible facilities to make sure that nothing keeps the players from competing at the highest level.
After a tour of the facilities and meeting the players, I sat down with Ria to show off my 2K skills. Ria played as last season’s Detroit Pistons and I played as the all-time Jazz team that included Karl Malone, John Stockton and Pistol Pete Maravich.
With only 3-minute quarters, and what was a nail-biter of a game, Ria barely beat me by a mere 30 points.
On top of learning first-hand just how talented the players are, here’s some other things I learned about Jazz Gaming and why we should all be watching them not just this Thursday but every season.
When you’re watching the game, it’s easy to get lost in it. Just like an NBA game, you’ll find yourself cheering for the big shots and wincing at the turnovers.
There’re are elements to watching the 2K League game that provide a dynamic experience that you only get at an NBA game if you're sitting very close. During 2K league games players face the opposing team in a close-up setting. Because they’re so close, it’s very common for players to trash talk the opposing team. Viewers see everything and you feel like you’re a part of it.
Jazz Gaming point guard, Shaka “Yeah I Compete” Browne said that trash talk is part of the game. Some teams will have all five players focus on one player on the opposing team to try to get into their head. Getting an edge like that can be the difference in the game.
Because the viewer has such a close view, you hear and feel everything. The intensity makes for a great experience.
Jazz Gaming has the #1 overall pick from the most recent 2K League Draft and the #3 overall pick from season 1.
Spencer “Ria” Wyman missed the first season of the NBA 2K league because he hadn’t hit the minimum age requirement to play. That worked out for Jazz Gaming because they had the first pick in this year’s draft and picked the vaunted center with the #1 pick.
Ria fills an important role for Jazz Gaming being the main pick-setter for the team while also being the main rim protector. Because the high pick and roll is such a major part of the game, especially in season 2, Ria’s role is almost as important as Compete’s. The better Ria sets the pick, the easier the path to the basket for Compete.
The chemistry between the players is also something to watch. Multiple times the players mentioned to me just how important chemistry is on and off the court. Considering how close the games are, and how difficult points can be to come by, having that chemistry can be the difference in getting a player free for an open shot and winning a game.
This season, when Jazz Gaming had their starters playing, they were 5-2. Because of one of the players getting sick, and a mid-season trade, that chemistry was broken up at times. In their next games, with a team at full strength, Jazz Gaming has a chance to end strong.
The players are easy to root for.
It’s been a few years since I’ve had the free time to play 2K and I’m not as up to date with all the different modes and upgrades, but the players didn’t treat me any different than they might have treated a seasoned pro. They answered all my questions and didn’t turn their nose up at me for any question.
I was really impressed with Ria when I asked him about the pressure and attention of being the #1 pick. He took the time to instead talk about Kevin “KevDontMiss” Fennelly. He talked about how KevDontMiss was asked to play a much bigger role than 6th men usually have to and should get consideration for 6th man of the year. It’s neat to see that comradery amongst the players and leadership from #1 overall pick.
Adventure Squad: Ensign Peak Edition— Jazz Gaming (@UtahJazzGaming) July 16, 2019
We’re loving the SLC views, but not sure about this whole hiking thing.
Any hiking adventure tips?
#GamingElevated #AdventuresFirstStop@Maverik pic.twitter.com/lZNOogQWPC
The 2K League has some interesting similarities and differences with the NBA
Watching 2K league games it’s interesting how the game matches up with the NBA. Because all the in-game players on the floor have a peak level of skill, teams can play in any way they want. It’s different than the NBA where teams create schemes that emphasize the strengths of their players and minimize the weaknesses.
Because of the high level of talent, it’s interesting that teams play a similar style to the Houston Rockets with a main ball handler, a rolling big and multiple shooters. It’s a style of play that maximizes spacing and creates either high percentage shots at the rim or three point shots.
At times this season Jazz gaming has had a top-five offense in the league playing that style.
When you consider that the Rockets have also consistently had a top-five offense in the NBA playing the same style, it shouldn’t be surprising it works for both leagues.
Ria talked about how the league has changed even from season one where teams played more of a 5-out style where season two has seen teams adopt a high screen and roll more often.
How will the league evolve next season? Will it play the same style or will it continue to evolve? Will new styles evolve out of the league that NBA teams could learn from?
All games are streamed live on YouTube and Twitch. No need to watch a spotty stream on Reddit or anything like that. And the cool thing about that is that all the games are stored so you can watch it later if you missed it.
On Wednesday Jazz Gaming has a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive. If you’re not watching, you’re missing out!