The Hawks Talon Gaming Club is determined to make the playoffs as they prepare to compete in their third season of the NBA 2K League.
“Being one game away from the playoffs last year was tough. This year we want to put ourselves in a position for sure to make the playoffs,” Hawks Talon Gaming Club Head Coach Wesley Acuff explained.
The NBA 2K League is now allowing teams to compete in person this season which will prove to be a big advantage. Games will still be played from each team’s home market, however, teammates and coaches may now be in the same location.
“The most exciting thing is being able to be around the players. We are now able to play the game altogether in the same room,” Acuff exclaimed. “That’s something that is gonna be huge as opposed to last year playing in different locations and virtually communicating. We get to play in the same facility so I look forward to that.”
The Talon is also looking forward to playing in their brand new home at State Farm Arena. The “Gaming House” resides on the arena’s fifth floor and will serve as the practice facility and team home for remote competition.
“The facility is amazing. You know I can’t keep the guys out of it,” Acuff laughed.
“It is our hangout spot that we definitely take a lot of pride in. We have a lot of fun. I will walk in there anytime and they are playing or watching the film. We definitely are thankful to have this space.”
The Talon has had an eventful offseason, including selecting three new players in the 2021 NBA 2K League Draft in March. The club selected CEEZ (Caesar Martinez) in the first round with the 11th overall pick. They selected FAKIEE (Thomas Batts) with the 34th overall pick in the second round. They ended the night by taking SWANN (Mike Swanegan) 48th overall with the team’s third-round pick. The 2021 draft picks will join the three retained players from last season that includes BP (Michael Diaz-Cruz), KEL (Mykel Wilson), and LEE (Lee Lamb). Head coach Wesley Acuff is confident in this team’s ability to execute in their individual roles. He believes that will be the difference-maker in becoming a playoff-ready team.
“We have more of a defined identity. What I mean by that is we have players that specifically play their positions in their roles,” Acuff explained.
“As opposed to having good players that play multiple positions and kind of like Swiss army knife/utility players that we kind of shift around a little bit. Everyone is comfortable in their identity as a player.”
BP was named one of the five finalists for the 2019 Intel Performance NBA 2K League Most Valuable Player Award and will remain the focal point of the team’s offense. LEE will continue to be a force in the paint as he was named to the 2020 NBA 2K League All-Rookie Team. He also set a franchise record for single-game double-double performances last season. Acuff will continue to get the best out of his veterans while welcoming the rookies to the team.
“We will create an identity and not allow teams to force us out of our comfort zones,” Acuff said. “I think that’s gonna take us a long way, having everybody be on the same page and understand the vision and what it’s gonna take to get where we want to be. We have the talent now we have to create the habits and practice those habits.”
With a sharpshooter in BP at the lead and a great secondary ball-handler in KEL, Coach believes the identity of the team will be centered around offense.
“I got a lot of firepower on this chain. So even if we can’t get a stop, which I got some great defenders as well, but even if we can’t be able to stop we should be able to get a bucket,” Acuff explained. “I think just being just one of those teams that have those flashes of excitement on the offensive end of the court is going to be some that were known for.”
As a 2K league lover himself, Coach Acuff’s leadership style will definitely continue to be hands-on.
“I’m teaching them and they’re teaching me. We’re collaborating on how we can make the perfect game plan,” Acuff explained. “We’re strategizing, watching more film, and creating different scenarios and different game plans. We’re looking at different lineups instead of just riding with the same thing that traditionally teams do. we’re mixing it up a little. All of these guys are great gamers and you know they can be good at different positions so we’re looking at every possible combination.”
The Hawks Talon Gaming Club will tip off their regular season play with a best-of-three series against Hornets Venom Gaming on Thursday, May 27th. Each game can be live-streamed via the NBA 2K League’s YouTube and Twitch accounts.