ORLANDO – Magic Gaming is coming off their most successful season in NBA 2K League history.
They not only brought home their first banner title but also reached the postseason in both 3v3 and 5v5 game modes.
On Tuesday, Magic Gaming ensured that the key components of that successful run remain in place for their 2023 campaign as they officially protected point guard Joshua “unguardable” Hunter, small forward Matthew “Matty” Grant, and center Robert “May” May.
“All three of them have their own very unique skillset that they bring to the table and that seemed to blend together at a very high level,” said Magic Gaming General Manager and Head Coach Jonah Edwards. “That seemed to put us in a position where we feel really, really good about where we’re at as a team and the current assets we have. Thrilled to be able to bring all three of those guys back. They’ve earned it.”
The three protected players should come as no surprise. After all, it was that trio that helped Magic Gaming bring home the STEAL OPEN title in 3v3 action.
“They outworked most folks in the entire league to be in the position we were in at the end of last season,” Edwards said. “It’s not only is it seen as rewarding that hard work, but also that we’re very hopeful for what they can bring for years to come.”
It’s nearly impossible to put unguardable’s impact on the franchise into words. After being acquired from Blazer5 Gaming as part of a massive four-team midseason trade, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 2KL Draft instantly turned the tide of Magic Gaming’s season. Orlando went from the bottom of the standings in both 3v3 and 5v5 to winning the STEAL OPEN and reaching THE TICKET finals, which secured Magic Gaming’s playoff spots in both game modes.
As a result of his sensational showings in Orlando, unguardable was named to the 2022 NBA 2KL All-Rookie Team and was a runner up in the Rookie of the Year race.
“Josh is a very, very unique guy when it comes to the 2K League,” said Edwards. “I think it’s very, very rare when you get a player who’s ultimately talented but also willing to be team first at times and understands how to balance the two. It’s a very, very rare skill that only some of the elite players in the league have where they kind of know when ‘hey, it’s my time to shine’ or ‘hey, I know when to be team first.’ It’s a skillset you see in some of the most talented athletes in the world.”
Matty joined Magic Gaming last season when the team selected him with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2022 NBA 2K League Draft. The four-year 2KL veteran instantly exceeded expectations both as the team’s primary lockdown defender and as one of the group’s best communicators.
“Matt is our clear leader in the room pretty much start to finish every day, on and off the court,” said Edwards. “The way he carries himself. He’s a consummate professional.”
Along with the intangibles, Matty offers Magic Gaming positional versatility. Whether it’s playing lockdown, being a frontcourt offensive force, or switching over to guard at the drop of a hat, Matty can seemingly do it all.
“There are very, very few players in the world that are able to do what he does,” said Edwards. “On 2K23 (the latest version of the game), he’s very, very talented. We expect big things from him, even though this will be his fifth year in the league. I would expect him to have his best season yet.”
In a league where brashness is often rewarded with attention, May’s cool and calm approach can easily get overlooked by outsiders. However, there’s no question he’s immensely valued in Magic Gaming’s locker room.
The versatile big man provided a calming voice during the toughest moments of Orlando’s season and is willing to play any role to help his team win. Early in Magic Gaming’s 2022 campaign, he was tasked with playing power forward and ranked among the league’s best at 3-point shooting. Then, after the team’s midseason blockbuster trade, he shifted to center where his impact on both ends of the floor helped alter the course of Magic Gaming’s season.
Known as Octo-May for his ability to disrupt passing lanes and get his hands on any loose ball, Orlando’s big man recorded double-digit rebounds in 11 straight 5v5 games to close out the season and performed his best in the team’s biggest moments.
“Robbie is Mr. Preparation. The guy is as prepared as any player you’re ever going to find,” said Edwards of Orlando’s longest-tenured player. “He’s dedicated to his craft. This will be his fifth year in the league and fourth in Orlando and there’s no complacency. He plays the game as much as anybody in the offseason. He’s constantly working and trying out new builds.”
Unfortunately, the move also signals the end of Justin “Snubby” Stemerman and Wesley “Gen” McNair’s Magic Gaming tenure. Snubby has spent the last two seasons with Orlando after being acquired from Hornets Venom GT. Gen joined Magic Gaming midseason as part of the same deal that brought unguardable to Orlando.
Magic Gaming will look to fill those holes via the draft or through trade. Orlando currently possesses the 15th and 26th overall picks in the 2023 2KL Draft. Those pick numbers could improve if other teams choose to retain more than three players as they’ll have to sacrifice a draft pick in order to do so.