Hawks Talon Gaming Club prepares for second year in NBA 2K League

BP answers questions during The Atlanta Hawks Talon Media Day. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

The wait is finally over. 

Hawks Talon Gaming Club will open their season against Mavs Gaming tomorrow at 9 p.m. 

Over the last few months, the team prepared for the season by playing at various tournaments with a variety of gamers, from professional athletes to esports talent. Whether a win or loss, the team thrived in learning from each game. After two tournaments and three months of practice, head coach Wesley Acuff loves what he sees.

“I think we’ve been having fun, which is the reason we all play the game we play,” Acuff said. “We’ve gotten some wins, but we’ve had a few losses. But I think, all in all, we’ve learned –– learned how to play together, learned how to create some chemistry.”

Introducing the players

Each team in the league will have six players: five starters and then one off the bench.

Leading the team will be the reigning MVP runner-up BP (Michael Diaz-Cruz), one of the best ball handlers in the history of the NBA 2K franchise. As a member of Kings Guard Gaming last season, he averaged a brilliant 19.3 points and 7.9 assists per game. A 2019 All-Rookie Team member, Hawks Talon traded for one of the best players in the league.

Among those joining BP will be an old friend: the team selected Kel (Mykel Wilson) with the 38th pick in the draft, and the two cannot wait to take the league by storm together. They wanted to team up for quite some time, and now, they boast the same colors. 

MrStylez (Andrew Valle) is the only returning player from last season’s team. He produced a solid stat line of 9.7 points and 5.2 assists per game last season. His presence will be especially vital on the defensive front.

The big man inside at center will be Lee (Levi Lamb), who Hawks Talon took with the 16th pick in the draft back in February. He should complement the team well, cleaning up the glass anytime someone misses a shot. Lee could be one of the more surprising players this year.

FollowTHEGOD (Kwan Niblack), a first-year small forward, will have the ability to come in and play with some great players in MrStylez and BP. As someone who embodies positionless basketball, he can guard anyone in the league. With BP bound to put up another stellar year scoring-wise, the pressure should be nothing out of the norm.

And finally, the hometown kid, Arkele (Derrion Elmore), who will be coming off the bench. The Atlanta native will be able to learn from a very talented group of esports athletes. Acuff believes that the potential for Arkele goes beyond the court, citing his leadership.

“Being back in Atlanta, for him, he really wants to put on a show,” Acuff said of the second-year player. “He’s constantly wanting to play; he’s constantly making sure that the guys are getting along.”

Exceptional team bonding

Through remote communication, team chemistry remains strong. The guys play games after practice ends and talk in their group chats several times throughout the day. They also enjoy conversations that extend beyond what brought them all here: basketball.

“We’re on the phone, having group messages, just … joking or me giving the guys some recipes that they might be able to cook,” Acuff said. 

The team is close-knit and hopes to keep that energy going into the season beyond tomorrow night’s opener.

“We are anticipating just getting back to action, to be honest,” Acuff said. “It’s been a while, and we’ve been off forever and looking forward to this moment. So, I would say we’re just looking forward to getting back out there.”