The Detroit Pistons are balling in person, and in the cyberworld too. They are part of the NBA 2K League, a professional esports league, featuring the best NBA 2K players in the world and the first official esports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league.
The NBA 2K League and its teams have more than 2 million combined followers on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and their content has generated more than 356 million video views across all NBA and NBA 2K League social media platforms, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch and YouTube.
NBA 2K League partners include Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Champion Athleticwear, Facebook, GameStop, HyperX, New Era, Panera Bread, Raynor Gaming, SCUF Gaming, Stance, Twitch and YouTube.
Players compete as unique characters which they created themselves in 5-on-5 gameplay. No artificial intelligence is used; playing ability is strictly determined by skill. Players are created with specific archetypes, such as ‘lockdown defender’ or ‘playmaking slasher’, and their skills are determined based on their archetype.
After finishing last season with a record of three wins and 13 losses, Pistons GT is looking to rebound this season. General Manager Adam Rubin knew he had to make some changes if Pistons GT is going to compete for a championship this season.
Ethan White, a point guard and gamertag Radiant, has been traded from 76ers Gaming Club (Philadelphia) to Pistons Gaming Team for the number four and thirty-ninth overall pick in the 2021 2K League Draft and a 2022 1st round pick. Pistons GT also received the 49th pick in the 2021 draft and a 2022 3rd round pick.
“We knew as soon as last season ended and we retained Ramo (Ramo Radoncic, center) and Charger (Trenton Simmons, power forward) that our first round pick was going to be a point guard no matter what. It was a matter of, ‘Do we trade for a point guard’ or ‘Do we draft a point guard’,” said Rubin.
With the number four overall pick in the upcoming draft, Pistons GT had multiple offers from multiple teams.
“When the 76ers actually reached out to us and made the initial offer, we brought it internally, discussed it, ended up going back and forth with the 76ers on a number of different variations of the trade until we settled on the one that we liked,” Rubin said.
Head coach Duane Burton was thrilled to get a point guard with plenty of league experience as well as a running-mate for All-League center and MVP candidate Ramo Randoncic.
“I would say his experience from being in the league all three seasons [is key], also his leadership. We know he’s a great scorer and stuff like that and he can handle the ball. So bringing him in helps us fill that void that we were trying to fill which was our point guard spot,” said Burton. “We know he’s a good quality point guard that’s been in the league, he’s proven that he can make things work and make things happen.
Pairing him with Ramo, which is no knock on the centers he’s had before, but he hasn’t had a center like Ramo before. So pairing them two together I think is going to be really helpful for not only him but for us as a team.”
Ethan is also very excited to get a chance to compete alongside Ramo this season to bring more wins, and maybe a championship, to Pistons GT.
“Me coming to this team, we already have Ramo, so just me and Ramo together as just the duo, I feel like we’re going to be competing in a lot of games and we’re going to have a chance to win a lot of games this year. And I’m just going to try to be the best leader I can be for the rookies and for myself,” said White.
White grew up in Battle Creek and is excited to be back in his home state.
“It’s honestly the perfect situation. I’m like an hour away from where I grew up. I’m not far from home at all. So, it takes a lot of the hard parts about being in the league out of the equation,” said White. “Because the hardest part really is just being away, like I got kids, so being away from my kids and stuff is kind of hard. But now it just pretty much takes not everything hard about the league, but the most important thing that’s tough about the league, it just takes it out of the equation.”
White has been playing NBA 2K since he was young. The first NBA 2K game he remembers really getting into was NBA 2K14, but he’s always been good at the game.
“At first, I was just playing 2K for fun. I remember when I first started playing with my friends I could tell I was really good at the game. So I started branching out and meeting new people in the game, and then once they announced the NBA 2K League I was like, ‘Wow, this is literally perfect for me’,” said White. “I already knew right when they announced it that this is something I can easily be in if I keep working.”
Since there are an endless amount of archetypes that can be created, the 2K League has limited each position to eight different archetypes, which can be found at https://2kleague.nba.com/official-archetype-info/.
Each player has a rating on a scale from one to 99 at the highest. The 2K League sets every player at a rating of 92.
This season, due to COVID-19, the 2K League will be participating in remote gameplay versus
competing in their traditional studio in Manhattan in New York City.
Over the course of the six weeks of remote gameplay, each team is scheduled to play at least eight matches that will count toward its regular-season record. Each match will be played in a best-of-three format. Each three game-series victory will represent one regular-season win, and each three-game-series loss will represent one regular-season loss.
White was selected in the first ever NBA 2K League Draft in 2018 by 76ers GC with the No. 14 overall pick. He has certainly lived up to his first-round status.
Last season, White averaged 20 points, 11.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in 16 regular season games while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 50.5 percent from three-point range. During last year’s playoffs, he averaged 17.1 points, 10.6 assists, and one steal per game while having a 51.8 field goal percentage and 49.1 three-point percentage in nine games.
Despite video games coming with stereotypes of laziness and others, it is very possible to make a career out of gaming. But with any career, if you want to be the best of the best, that traditionally comes with a very busy schedule.
“We usually have minimum two, but probably like three best-of-three or five series a day. Once we get into the season, we’ll start watching film on teams. A lot of the things NBA players do, we do like watching film, getting together as a team, having team meetings about what we could do better, what we did wrong here, stuff like that,” said White.
Pistons GT will open their season on Tuesday, May 19, against Wizards District Gaming. Games will be broadcast on the league YouTube and Twitch channels along with deals with ESPN and Sportsnet in Canada.