Looking at the winner of the NBA2k Atlanta Hawks March Madness Bracket.
With two of my favorite things in the world (Atlanta Hawks basketball and the March Madness tournament) being cancelled/suspended, I decided to put the two things together.
I wanted to imagine a scenario in which the Atlanta Hawks ran a 1v1 tournament with each player contributing, and with 16 players on the roster (counting two-way player Charlie Brown), it was easy to put together a bracket.
Trae Young was an easy selection for the #1 seed, as was John Collins for the #2 seed. From there I filled in the bracket based on the players’ performance this season, and how I thought they’d do in a 1v1 tourney. The full bracket is below:
I was satisfied with the bracket, and thought I was done with the mini experiment. Then I remembered I own a simulation basketball game. NBA 2K features a black court mode that allows you to play (and watch) 1v1 games.
So I simmed the tournament, watching all games which were first to 21, win-by-two. Results below.
Round One Results:
- #1 Trae Young: 21 #16 Charlie Brown: 14
Trae had a bit of a hard time putting away the 16th-seeded Brown, but was eventually pulled away with a 5-0 run down the stretch. The 6’6 Brown made the most of his size advantage, backing Trae down and coming up with nine offensive rebounds. Without those second chance points, the game would have been a blow out. Trae advances, but shows vulnerability.
This is when it became clear that a big man was likely going to win this tournament. Size has always been the most important stat in 2K, and that showed itself here. Dedmon blocked 22 shots, nearly the same amount of rebounds (26) that he had. The game staggered on with the 7-footer going cold offensively down the stretch. He needed 51 shots to get to 21 points.
We have our first upset, and boy was it ugly for red velvet. Fernando backed Huerter down constantly on offense, and never got any resistance. While Fernando only blocked one shot, he towered over Huerter and never gave him any room to get off a shot. Kev shot 2-26 in the game, and only grabbed six rebounds in the entire match. It was Maryland on Maryland crime, and Fernando moves on.
- # Clint Capela: 21 #13 Skal Labissière: 18
The matchup between Trade Deadline acquisitions Clint Capela and Skal Labissière took forever — but ended up being one of the most entertaining games of the tournament. The two went back and forth, playing fantastic defense down low. Neither Capela or Labissière led by more than three in the entire match. Their offensive downfalls dragged the game on, and nearly every shot attempted was contested heavily.
The game was tied at 18-18 before Capela finally pulled away, scoring the final three points to win. Combined, the two centers attempted 187 shots, with Capela taking the win as well as a slight advantage in rebounds (70) and blocks (21). A great effort from 13th-seeded Labissière falls just short.
The 6’0 Brandon Goodwin never really had a shot in this tourney, especially with the 2K devs making him a terrible defender, but he ended up holding his own after a 10-1 start from Reddish. He made just 12 of his 38 attempts, but made the first three (two points, technically) of the competition thus far. He just couldn’t stop Cam on the other end however, with Reddish rolling onto round two by shooting 21-32.
The two defensive-minded forwards didn’t disappoint here, with both taking over 60 shots in the game to 21. It was close throughout, and outside a 3-0 start to the match for Treveon Graham, there were no big runs. De’Andre took 61 shots, finishing with a 27 percent clip from the field. That’s enough to get it done when your opponent shoots 18 percent.
The matchup between the two oldest members of the Hawks ended up being the most strange matchup of the first round. Vince Carter made the first four points of the game, making a dunk and blocking two Teague shots away, but then Teague scored the next six points. Then Carter scored the next five. The game went back and forth like that for most of the game, like 2K couldn’t decide who should win.
After Teague grew a slight 18-17 lead, Vince scored the game’s final four points, fittingly ending the game with a dunk, one of his three in the match.
- # John Collins: 22 #15 Damian Jones: 20
Every March there’s that one 15th seed that hangs around just enough to scare a #2 seed, and in this case, that was Damian Jones, who narrowly upset the Hawks All-Star in the first round’s closest game. Jones got out to a 5-1 then 8-2 lead early, and Collins slowly chipped away at the lead.
Unlike the last big vs. big matchup of Capela and Skal, both these two played well offensively, and Collins needed just 48 shots to get his 22 points. The battled in the post and JC hit a few mid rangers, including one to put the game away after an offensive rebound.