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How to build a NBA 2K eLeague team from scratch.

By Aaron Callaghan 


How do you build a NBA 2K eLeague team from scratch? 

Answer: You troll through hours of Pro-Am game film, break down winning basketball and identify your draft stock! 

The Green Release NBA 2K eLeague Blog took on the laborious task of watching hours of NBA 2K Pro-Am tournament games, I looked at how teams won and attempted to weight players and positions according to how online Pro-Am games are run and won. I did not sit and collate data, instead using the eye-test developed from decades of watching basketball and 10 years devoted to playing NBA 2K online including the very first iterations of 'Crew Mode'. If anyone wants to record and analyse the advanced metrics you can write a guest post, I'll shout you out on all Social Platforms and sing your praises! 

I do not envy the eSports general managers and support staff tasked with attempting to build a championship winning team from scratch. However, there is some beauty in the dilemma they face, where General Managers have the ability to imprint their own values on the team with drafting players that fit their ideals. It seems a serpentine draft is likely, whereby the #1 pick in the first round then drafts last in the second round and #1 again in the third round and so on. With that said I decided to look at the importance of each position first and found that teams utilised different archetypes at each position, in contrast to the real NBA league where teams (read: Small ball positionless Golden State Warriors) are moving to small ball and having less and less reliance on conventional positions and play styles. NBA 2K is still very much a position based game with strict roles defined by archetypes (read: stretch big, slasher etc). 

I leaned heavily on the recent tournaments in order to get the most accurate evolution of 2K17 (read: After major patches) "Who's Your 5" tournament ran by in conjunction with Anythony Murcano the Dallas Mavericks eSports Manager, I also concentrated on PS4 tournaments on a hunch that the NBA 2K eLeague will be played on the PlayStation, I obviously don't know this for a fact, again just a hunch. Check out the links below, these League guys are doing God's work and run great competitions. 





Online league play offence is predicated player motion in the form of high pick and roll (read: big man dive), iso dribble drive and kick to standing shooters, baseline cuts and east-west pick and pop. The foundation of all this 2K motion offence is the point guard or off guard with great court vision and a blend of looking for others and scoring the ball. Teams tended to start each half-court set with a high pick and roll or some sort of side motion, when plays broke down and the baseline cut wasn't available teams often dished out to the shooting guard and entered an east-west pick and roll with the stretch big or roll man. 

The art of shooting in NBA 2K17 tends to be easier to master when your ping is fine and your attributes are maxed, so I did not value shooting as a premium but rather I preferred getting other players open shots and dunks. Big man play isn't particularly varied but good big men stand out, it's rather a question of timing and finesse, setting brick wall screens in the right place and the right time and when to drag your opposite players away from the paint to open up the lane. Wing players need to be knock down shooters with high IQ, shooting the corner 3 with badges isn't particularly hard but also the easiest shot for defenders to close out, the real skill in wing shooting is shot selection and the right build and timing to hit contested 3's. With opportunities to get out and run semi-rare, especially since teams like to foul in the back court on turnovers and misses, wings and guards need to be on the same page whether it is running to the corner or going to the basket, defences tend to be in a scramble on fast breaks so the ability to capitalise on fast breaks come down to communication and knowing each others play style. 


Defence in NBA 2K is simple when the team plays defence together, although can be hard to execute if your team isn't on the same page. Switching on 1 and 5 pick and roll is a slippery slope as it leaves the centre out trying to guard a sharp shooting point guard and 2K is quite favourable in handing out 26 foot step back green releases. Good luck centres! The real trick is in going under screens and using your athleticism to get back out to the shooter and for the centre to bump the rolling centre to stop the dunk. In league play, wings tended to hedge towards the paint in between the ball and the opposing player relying on athleticms to close the shooter or roll back to the pain to help rebounding. Using the defence assist button in 2K makes defence much easier and therefor I didn't weight defence too highly in terms of priorities when drafting, I believe you can teach defence when teams buy into the scheme. Apart from the man to man defence, teams when coming up against 4 out 1 in teams packed with sharp shooters often played 3 - 2 zones for periods attempting to slow down guard play. The zone can work on well drilled teams with high communication skills. 

The Perfect NBA eLeague Team 

With this typical 2K offence and defensive sets in mind, I set about designing the perfect draft; 


  • 4 Outside players and 1 Inside Player to fit offensive sets. 
  • No NBA 2K players names yet, I don't want to offend or miss anyone. 
  • 2K17 archetypes only. 
  1. Playmaker PG: Value the ball, see the court, work on shot off dribble, hit the right man when he's open and initiate the offence. 
  2. Sharp Shooter SG: Hit open shots, hit tough shots, hit shots off dribble, move your feet on defence. 
  3. Slasher SF: Cut into the open lane, run the floor, help rebounding, guard the other teams best guard or foward. 
  4. Stretch Big PF: Stretch big, cover open man on 3 point line on defence, help rebounding, hit open shots. 
  5. Glass Cleaner C: Scoop every rebound! Crash offensive glass, stop inside scoring.

So with my first round pick, you've got to attempt to draft your franchise player, the person who has consistently performed in the big tournaments, I'm taking the best ball handling/shoot off dribble guard on the board, looking at what this player does well and looking to build around those strengths. The temptation would be to pick up a cornerstone big man with your second round pick, however the play might be to take another guard and build your roster around great guard play.

There it is, how to build a NBA 2K eLeague team from scratch. As we get closer to the eLeague, I will attempt to break down which players should .. or could be drafted, there's so many great players to choose from. Please, please comment and tell me I'm wrong, let's have a conversation! 

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