Hornets Venom GT has (hopefully) just one tournament and five regular season matchups remaining before the conclusion of the 2020 NBA 2K League campaign. Having been off since a July 1 loss to Warriors Gaming Squad, the team is eager to get back to work on Thursday night with big-time money on the line.
Breaking Down THE TURN Tournament
Hornets Venom went 2-2 in THE TIPOFF Tournament back in June, splitting a pair of contests with both Wizards District Gaming and T-Wolves Gaming. Contrary to pool play in THE TIPOFF (which Charlotte failed to advance out of), THE TURN will feature a best-of-three, bracket-style format. All results will not count towards regular season standings.
The winning team will receive $117,000, second place gets $52,000, third and fourth place take home $22,100 and fifth through eighth place walk away with $11,700. This year’s THE TURN will once again feature opposing archetype bans – two for each team will be allowed in the first game, one in the second and if necessary, zero in the third.
More on the NBA 2K League archetypes: https://2kleague.nba.com/official-archetype-info/
Upcoming Regular Season Opponents
Based on the current standings, seventh-seeded Charlotte will receive a first-round bye in THE TURN and face the winner of Wednesday night’s 10th-seeded Bucks Gaming (7-6) vs. 23rd-seeded Celtics Crossover Gaming (1-11) matchup on Thursday night starting at 8 PM EST. The victor will then advance to the quarterfinals (and the money!) to face the winner of Jazz Gaming vs. either Cavs Legion GC or Hawks Talon GC.
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) July 22, 2020
Celtics Crossover and Bucks Gaming each respectively feature a top-three scorer in the league in Albano “oFab” Thomallari (34.8 PPG; 1st) and Rookie of the Year frontrunner and reigning 2K League Player of the Week Reginald “Regg” Nash (33.1 PPG; 3rd). Milwaukee recently pulled off upset wins over Jazz Gaming and Kings Guard Gaming and per 2KHQ.com, ranks third in three-pointers (289) and fifth in three-point percentage (49.6 percent) this season.
Although not having yet played Bucks Gaming, Hornets Venom beat Celtics Crossover, 2-1, back on June 10, with guards Justin “Snubby” Stemerman and Alex “Expose” Whelan averaging 25.0 and 19.3 points, respectively, over the three-game series. oFab scored 44 points in a Game 1 win, the highest individual total recorded against Charlotte this season (37.7 PPG for the series).
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) June 11, 2020
A win on Thursday night for Hornets Venom would likely mean a rematch with Jazz Gaming, which swept Charlotte back on June 23. The teal and black narrowly missed stealing Game 1 of this series though, after a potential game-winning Snubby jumper rimmed out at the end of regulation in Game 1. The rookie finished with averages of 23.0 points and 5.0 assists over the two-game span, while guard Kimanni “Splashy” Ingram (27.0 PPG) and center Spencer “Ria” Wyman (23.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 5.0 SPG and 2.5 BPG) led the way for Utah.
Playoffs Beginning to Take Shape
Hornets Venom has five regular season contests remaining against Hawks Talon GC (July 28), the Gen.G Tigers (July 31), Nets GC (Aug. 5), Heat Check Gaming (Aug. 6) and T-Wolves (TBD; postponed on July 8). With the top nine teams guaranteed playoff spots, a 3-2 record down the stretch would likely solidify Charlotte as the second-ever 2K League expansion team to qualify for the postseason (T-Wolves Gaming, 2019).
T-Wolves Gaming (6-5) and NetsGC (7-6) are right behind Hornets Venom in the standings, while Gen.G (5-8), Hawks Talon (4-8) and Heat Check (4-8) are a bit further down. Brooklyn also has matchups with Wizards DG (10-2) and Knicks Gaming (6-7) down the stretch and Minnesota’s remaining foes include Warriors Gaming Squad (10-3) and Jazz Gaming (11-2).
Bucks Gaming (7-6), Blazer5 Gaming (5-6) and Grizz Gaming (7-7) are also still in contention, although currently on the outside of automatic postseason qualifying looking in. The 14 teams that don’t initially make the playoffs at the conclusion of the regular season will square off in THE TICKET Tournament in mid-August for the last final spot.
Zae, Snubby Acclimating Well to Adjusted Roles
Since taking over as the team’s starting center on June 24, Zaeya “Zae” Ishak is averaging 13.7 points, 16 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks, while shooting 70 percent from the field over six total contests. After making waves around the league as a power forward to start the season, the rookie has seen little (if any) drop-off in production since switching positions.
It was a good week for @ZaeBucks 💪🏼
— Hornets Venom GT (@HornetsVenomGT) July 3, 2020
Snubby has seen his field-goal attempts rise from about 15 per outing through the team’s first 19 games of the season to over 21 across the past six. Although his field-goal percentage has dipped a touch with the increased workload (58 percent to 49 percent), a few weeks off to step back and retool should put him in prime position for a strong finish to the year.
Keying in Defensively
Charlotte will face two of the 2K League’s top-10 scorers over the next two regular season games in Gen.G’s Dhwan “ShiftyKaii” White (30.8 PPG; 9th) and Nets GC’s Josh “Choc” Humphries (29.1 PPG; 10th). Choc is also first in the league in assists (9.5) and ShiftyKaii is sitting fifth (8.1) in dimes per showing, as well as fourth in steals (3.0).
Per 2KHQ.com, Hornets Venom sits second in the league in steals per game (10.0), trailing only undefeated Raptors Uprising GC (12.4). These two teams plus Kings Guard Gaming are also the only squads averaging more steals than turnovers per game, a statistic indicative of more favorable transition offense. Lock Gio “Trap” Elizondo – whose 2.9 steals per game rank sixth in the 2K League – will continue serving as the team’s pesky primary on-ball defender.
by Sam Perley