In the latest NBA 2K League Power Rankings, Magic Gaming ranks fifth, two spots above where it sat just one week earlier. Perhaps more uplifting for the Magic, who have won four straight regular season games and are in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth, is that they are just one game behind Saturday’s opponent, Pistons GT, for second place in the standings.
What’s most remarkable about the Magic’s spot in the Power Rankings, their position in the standings and their recent winning streak, though, is how far they’ve come in a relatively short period of time.
It was May 20, the day after Magic Gaming lost to Wizards District Gaming in Week 2 and were still searching for its first victory, when just about everyone in the gaming community counted them out. Slotted dead last in the Power Rankings at that time, one could only assume confidence was running close to, if not on, empty.
Now 10 weeks later, that supposition couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Magic, who have won eight of their last 12 games overall, have been stacked with confidence and poise the whole time.
Transparent in their style of play – with outstanding team chemistry, excellent ball movement and stifling defense – the ceaselessly composed Magic always believe in each other regardless of what the pundits say (or said).
“They had us bottom of the leaderboard, power ranking wise, before the season even started,” versatile swingman Bilal “SUPREME PULLER” Almashni said. “Everybody was writing us off. So we used that as fuel. We found our strengths and really utilized that.”
“We started just catching each other’s tendencies,” added the recently-turned 24-year-old from Chicago. “We just wanted to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. We just toughed it out, watched footage. We started getting the other team’s tendencies. We always look for the weak link on their team. We call it exposing the cheese, we find the cheese on their team and we just go after it. We try to keep exposing it all game for as long as possible until they adjust. And usually, nine times out of 10, when they adjust there’s something else out there.”
This close-knit, ultra-reliable group have won games under all circumstances – some by digging out of big deficits and others with clutch scoring down the stretch. Even in games where they’ve let sizeable leads slip away, the Magic generally have found ways to reclaim momentum.
The experimentation of different lineups significantly helped Magic Gaming overcome its slow start. No change, to this point, has impacted the team more than when the Magic plugged in Cameron “KingCamRoyalty” Ford, the 95th overall pick in the draft.
A stat sheet stuffer and one of the most electrifying players in the league, KingCamRoyalty boosted the team pretty much instantly with his efficiency, rebounding and defensive tenacity.
“It’s definitely a feeling-out process,” the 20-year-old Cleveland native said. “I had never played competitively at any level. So it was a new experience for me. I had to get used to playing in front of people, a live audience. But, I relaxed in, first couple of games I did pretty solid, so I was like, I can hang with these guys, I can dominate in this league, I can do what I do, I know I can compete with these guys. Once it got to that level, it’s just more about being more consistent and helping my team get wins by any means necessary.”
Unlike many of the other teams in the league, the Magic rarely rely on one or two players to carry them. In nearly every game – win or lose – production is well-balanced. Assists are high, shot attempts are almost evenly divided and everyone is contributing in at least one or two statistical categories.
That symmetry largely stems from the work they put in during their rigorous practice sessions. With a great deal of support from their leaders, including Magic Gaming director Ryan DeVos, team manager Chris Toussaint and recently added head coach Devin Gossett, the six men in uniform often say it’s like a “brotherhood” being on this team.
“They’ve definitely been very supportive, they’ve been helpful throughout the entire season,” KingCamRoyalty said. “Bringing Dev in has really helped as well. He sees the game just as we do, as a player so he’s able to point things out that we may not have seen. It definitely helps having an extra pair of eyes to watch over us.”
So, with so much excitement surrounding the team and with the playoffs in their sights, what’s next?
The Magic do have their hands full for their last three regular season games. After the Pistons this week, Magic Gaming will finish out its schedule on Aug. 11 with matchups against a pair of other postseason-hungry teams, Cavs Legion GC and Celtics Crossover Gaming.
“Just continue to do what we’ve been doing,” KingCamRoyalty said. “Playing together, being unselfish, moving the rock, playing good, solid defense like we always do. Just communicating as well and staying positive, all of that is key to winning in this league.”