DUX Gaming entered the league as the solo expansion team for season five, selecting Mario, Killeyy, and Lord Beezus. The two biggest questions for DUX Gaming: how much improvement are we going to see from Mario? And, who is the point guard at #5?
My answers for you right now: Obviously the team believes heavily in Mario and his ability to be a top player in the world. We’ll have to wait and see how he does with a new organization and a season of experience under his belt, but plenty of players in the history of this league have improved after a shaky rookie season. With #5, who knows at this point in the process? Everybody has their favorite point guard prospects right now (Cooks, Greens, Gallo, Kenny, etc.), but draft boards are always changing. Last year, #4 and a future first-rounder landed Radiant, one of the best players in the history of this league, so maybe the team explores veteran point guard options.
Missed opportunity for Cavs Legion GC?
With it being known that Mario was bound to be an expansion draft selection, why didn’t Cleveland take advantage of the situation? Plenty of people wondered about this on expansion draft day and it’s a fair question. While I don’t think protecting and trading Mario to DUX nets you more than one of their expansion picks, those expansion picks are valuable.
Alternate scenario: Cavs Legion protects Fab and Mario with the intent of trading Mario to DUX Gaming for one of their expansion selections. You’ll notice I didn’t include Oreo in the initial protections, and for good reason. It has nothing to do with his talent but everything to do with the league’s roster construction rules. Read more about those here.
The trade with DUX would include a stipulation, and that’d be the agreement to not take any Cavs Legion GC players in expansion, which they didn’t anyway. Nothing changes for DUX Gaming, and the team would still walk away with the same three players they currently have (and probably a newfound friendship with the Cavs front office).
The order in which they execute everything is important. Protect Fab and Mario. Trade Mario for expansion pick. Protect Fab and expansion player. Wait until after the expansion draft to use your final pair of retentions on Rim and Oreo. Waiting until after the expansion draft to retain more than two players would allow Cleveland to retain Fab, Rim, Oreo, and their expansion selection (acquired in exchange for Mario), all while holding onto their prized possession, the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Nevertheless, DUX lands their franchise player in Mario, and Cavs Legion heads into the remainder of the offseason with Fab, Oreo, Rim, and a top-two draft pick.
Lakers Gaming & Bucks Gaming
Lakers Gaming acquires: PG Regg
Bucks Gaming acquires: #4 overall
Most people have this trade as an absolute home run for Lakers Gaming. I am not one of those people. LA did fine, the team got their point guard, and I look forward to the finished product, but by no means is this a one-sided deal when you look at the big picture for Milwaukee.
Bucks Gaming has stockpiled quite the impressive collection of draft choices in this year’s draft, including three in the top-14 (#3, #4, #14). Critics can call this a weak class all they want (they do every year), but there will absolutely be game-changing players at each of those selections. The tough part is getting them right. Either way, Bucks Gaming did just fine in this deal, and the future is now potentially bright in Milwaukee.
76ers GC & Kings Guard Gaming
76ers GC acquires: C/F Yusuf, #12 overall, ‘23 first-rounder via KGG
Kings Guard Gaming acquires: C OneWildWalnut, #35 overall, ‘23 second-rounder via 76ers GC
My immediate reaction is that 76ers GC did really well for themselves value-wise. Yusuf, just one season removed from a First Team All-Defense selection, is still a top defensive frontcourt player in the league. Whether he’s playing center or power forward for Philly next season, receiving him and two first-round selections in exchange for OneWildWalnut is quite the haul.
That being said, I do think that this is the rare deal that works out for both teams. Kings Guard Gaming now has elite talent at three high-impact positions in Mama, Crush, and Walnut. Filling out the roster around these three is tougher without first-round picks, but that’s the price you pay for bonafide superstars. Three straight offseasons with blockbuster deals involving Sacramento, and now they roster one of the top cores in the entire league.
Gen.G Tigers & Grizz Gaming
Gen.G Tigers acquires: #16 overall
Grizz Gaming acquires: PG/SG JMoney
Immediate thought: there has to be more on the horizon, potentially for both teams. Gen.G seemed to be headed for a roster shakeup either way after missing last season’s playoffs. Parting ways with Jmoney makes sense, but going into the draft with a late first-round pick and no starting point guard might not. I could definitely see Gen.G in the veteran point guard trade market over the next month or so.
For Grizz Gaming, I could see another deal in the works as well. Maybe last season was Vandi’s last in Memphis, maybe not. If so, moving away from Vandi in favor of JMoney feels like a lateral move at the point guard position. If not, the Vandi/JMoney backcourt feels very high-floor, high-potential, and you can certainly do worse than JMoney with a mid-late first-round pick.
Retainments are final and any player who went unretained now enters the draft pool. The trade window, however, remains open through the midseason trade deadline, which is a change compared to last offseason. Another change: each team was awarded a total of 10 assets.
The adjustments are minor, but instead of “waiting for draft night”, teams can now freely discuss trades and player movement can happen throughout the months leading up to the draft. Both wins for me. Final retainments below:
PG Dre, F/C Yusuf, SF UnderratedGoat
PG Bash, SF Randomz, PF Breadwinner
Bucks Gaming :
Cavs Legion GC:
PG Fab, C/F Oreo, F Rim
Celtics Crossover Gaming:
PG FTW, SF Tayzo, C WorthingColt
Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai:
SG BSmoove, F/C Feast, F BxmpyDon
PG Vandi, G Jmoney, PF Spartan, C AuthenticAfrican
Hawks Talon GC:
PG Ceez, SF MikeSwann
Heat Check Gaming:
PG Sav, SF TBShiftay, C Hotshot
Hornets Venom GT:
PG Sherm, PF/C Crown, SG Rigby, F Trap
PG Splashy, SF Compete, C Ria
Kings Guard Gaming:
PG Mama, SF Crush, C OneWildWalnut
PG Duck, SG Malik, C Glo
G Reese, F Tactuk, F/C Krazy, PG Regg
Magic Gaming :
PG Reizey, SG Snubby, C/F May
PF Zae, C SickOne
Nets Gaming Crew:
SG Faiz, C Shotz
PG 630, SF Wolf, PF Lavish, C Jomar
PG Radiant, C Ramo, F Charger
Raptors Uprising GC:
PG Dimez, PG Kenny, C Type
PG Bear, SG Kai, C Slaughter
Warriors Gaming Squad:
PG CB13, SF Gradient, C Gunz, G Antoine
Wizards District Gaming:
SF Awkward, PF Newdini, C Dayfri
With the combine happening soon, the trade window remaining open, and draft quickly approaching, be on the lookout for more from me soon. Appreciate everybody for reading.