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Video Game Week: Rebuilding the Charlotte Hornets on NBA 2K20, Part 3

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The Hornets’ 2K rebuild reaches it’s conclusion.

Milan Games Week 2019 Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

End of the 2020-2021 season

Here’s a refresher on the rotation as the Hornets sit in 13th place at 22-34 heading into the homestretch of the season:

G - Devonte’ Graham - 32 minutes

G - Killian Hayes - 28 minutes

F - Miles Bridges - 30 minutes

F - PJ Washington - 30 minutes

C - Myles Turner - 30 minutes

6 - Terry Rozier - 30 minutes

7 - Skal Labissiere - 20 minutes

8 - Cody Martin - 14 minutes

9 - Daniel Oturu - 14 minutes

10 - Payton Pritchard - 12 minutes

The first game after the All-Star break was a 134-101 loss to the Wizards. After another two weeks of games, Killian Hayes was ruled out for the season with a dislocated left patella tendon. That is a very bad injury and he’ll probably miss the start of 2021-2022 as well. Great. Time to tank!

I really want Terry to at least be eligible for Sixth Man of the Year (he’s averaging 14 points, three assists and four rebounds per game shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range), so Caleb Martin will start in Hayes’ place for the remainder of the season.

Here’s the new rotation with adjustments for the tank to end 2020-2021:

G - Devonte’ Graham - 30 minutes

G - Caleb Martin - 20 minutes

F - Miles Bridges - 30 minutes

F - PJ Washington - 30 minutes

C - Myles Turner - 30 minutes

6 - Terry Rozier - 28 minutes

7 - Skal Labissiere - 18 minutes

8 - Daniel Oturu - 16 minutes

9 - Cody Martin - 16 minutes

10 - Payton Pritchard - 14 minutes

11 - Jalen McDaniels - 8 minutes

Udoka Azubuike and Daniel Oturu will take turns getting the DNP-CD so they can both get minutes to end the year. Devonte’, Miles Bridges, and Pritchard all suffered minor injuries in the last week of the season, so the tank was really on. Ashton Hagans and Max Strus were recalled from Greensboro so they could play a few games with the Hornets before hitting free agency.

The Hornets finished the 2020-2021 season 29-53, the exact same record as 2019-2020, only they finished 15th in the East instead of 10th. The Hornets are in a three-way tie for the second-worst record in the NBA at 29 wins. Simulations can’t be 100% accurate, I guess.

Giannis Antetokounmpo won his third-straight MVP, LaMelo Ball won Rookie of the Year, Dennis Schroder went back-to-back with Sixth Man of the Year (Terry came in fourth place), Kawhi Leonard won another Defensive Player of the Year, Jakob Poeltl won Most Improved Player, Mike Budenholzer went back-to-back as Coach of the Year, and Killian Hayes still made All-Rookie second-team after he missed about 20 games.

The playoff simulation gave us these Conference Finals matchups; 1-seed Milwaukee versus 2-seed Philadelphia in the East, and 1-seed Dallas versus the 2-seed Los Angeles Clippers out West. Both series’ went seven games, with the Bucks and Clippers meeting in the Finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo won his first ring the summer before unrestricted free agency as the Bucks beat the Clippers 4-1. Giannis averaged 36.2 points, 12.4 boards and 6.6 assists while shooting 63.5 percent from the field to claim Finals MVP.

Early in the offseason

Vince Carter finally retired, as did Tyson Chandler, Nene, Udonis Haslem, J.R. Smith, Devin Harris, Jose Calderon, Raymond Felton, Thabo Sefalosha, Courtney Lee and Jared Dudley. Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts also retired.

The 2021 NBA Draft

The Hornets enter the Draft Lottery in a three-way tie for the second-best odds at landing the No. 1 overall pick with 13.5 percent. Yet again, the lottery screws the Hornets and they fall to the fifth pick. We’ll make do.

The only real goals heading into this draft are to get the best prospects on the board and keep adding depth. To the surprise of nobody, Cade Cunningham went first overall.

Jonathan Kuminga, Evan Mobley, Greg Brown, Jalen Johnson and Usman Garuba are the top-5 prospects available, and Kuminga is a no-brainer. He has the size of a forward but the agility of a wing, and could be the top-end scorer the Hornets need in the future.

The Hornets’ second-round pick via Brooklyn landed at 48 and I scooped up Franz Wagner because he can shoot and had the highest rated player, and there aren’t any needs to be filled anymore.

Free agency

The 2021 offseason will be a big one for the real-life Hornets. Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, the Martin twins, Payton Pritchard and Daniel Oturu all have team options to be picked up, and Devonte’ and Jalen McDaniels both hit restricted free agency. For cap space purposes, I declined to tender qualifying offers to Ashton Hagans, Max Strus and Ignas Brazdeikis.

The 2021 free agent class is loaded, and basically any free agent that receives a max offer accept it immediately in 2K. I won’t go after Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, since the chances they come to Charlotte in real life are slim-to-none. Second-tier guys are more our speed.

I offered a max contract to restricted free agents Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, but obviously both of their teams matched. Spencer Dinwiddie got a three-year, $48.5M offer from the Hornets because he can play both guard spots, is a respectable 82 overall rating, and can shoot from long-range. Him and Devonte’ is a high-caliber backcourt.

Would you look at that, Dinwiddie accepted and is now a Hornet! Tacko Fall and Amir Coffey are coming in on Two-Way contracts as well. Gordon Hayward is still out there, too, and he did accept a contract from Charlotte once upon a time...

WE GOT HIM! Hayward accepted a three-year, $48.15M deal, very similar to Dinwiddie’s. The depth this team is going to have is crazy. Now all that’s left is Devonte’s contract.

The Pistons sent Devonte’ a three-year, $44.26M offer sheet that was matched with haste. That’s quite a steal for the level of production that Devonte’ puts out.

Jalen McDaniels accepted his $1.87M qualifying offer, putting a bow on a successful free-agency period.

Preparing for the 2021-2022 season

Once free agency is over, it’s on to Summer League. Here’s this year’s Summer Hornets roster:

G - Payton Pritchard

G - Caleb Martin

F - Jonathan Kuminga

F - Jalen McDaniels

C - Daniel Oturu

6 - Immanuel Quickley

7 - Franz Wagner

8 - Cody Martin

9 - Tacko Fall

10 - Udoka Azubuike

11 - Amir Coffey

12 - Isaac Likekele

13 - Yam Madar

The Summer Hornets made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the Summer League tournament, but lost to the Phoenix Suns.

Jonathan Kuminga was sent to the “perimeter shooting camp” to raise his 3-point and mid-range shooting ratings. Not much else to do but simulate ahead to the start of the 2021-2022 season.

Never mind. Right before the next season was about to start, the game told me I had 17 players for a 15-man roster. Two cuts have to be made.

Franz Wagner and Udoka Azubuike were the unfortunate casualties. I also couldn’t find a trade for either of them that didn’t involve me receiving a player in return, so they had to be cut outright.

The 2021-2022 season

Setting the rotation when a team has so many good players is actually kind of hard. Who would’ve thought?

In order to make room for Hayward and Dinwiddie in the starting lineup, Miles’ position was changed from small forward to his natural position of power forward, and Hayes was turned back into a point guard to back up Devonte’. Here’s the opening night rotation:

G - Devonte’ Graham - 30 minutes

G - Spencer Dinwiddie - 28 minutes

F - Gordon Hayward - 30 minutes

F - PJ Washington - 27 minutes

C - Myles Turner - 28 minutes

6 - Terry Rozier - 23 minutes

7 - Miles Bridges - 23 minutes

8 - Jonathan Kuminga - 21 minutes

9 - Killian Hayes - 18 minutes

10 - Skal Labissiere - 12 minutes

It sucks that McDaniels, Pritchard, Oturu and the Martin twins have no minutes, but it is literally impossible to play them more than a minute or two per game while also giving substantial minutes to the team’s good players. Having Hayward, Devonte’, Dinwiddie, Turner, PJ or Terry playing like 18 minutes per night is not a good investment of Michael Jordan’s virtual money. Plus, all three of them can still be sent to Greensboro at any time.

The randomly-generated schedule has the Hornets opening the season at home against the Bulls. They won 99-97 and the team’s leading scorers were Dinwiddie and Hayward. A sign of things to come, perhaps?

Perhaps not yet. Turner bruised his right knee and missed six games while PJ Washington strained his shoulder and missed eight games. Hayward and Kuminga each missed two games with minor ankle sprains. The Hornets were 7-11 on December 1, but six of the 11 losses came while Turner/Hayward/Kuminga/PJ were out.

The injury bug is biting for the second-consecutive season. PJ got hurt again, this time a left knee sprain. He was ruled out for 1-2 weeks, so Miles, Cody Martin, and McDaniels got some more playing time. Turner got hurt, too, this time fracturing his right hand. He’ll be out for 2-4 weeks, and I called up Tacko Fall from Greensboro for insurance.

WHAT THE HELL, PJ KEEPS GETTING HURT!!!! He pulled his bicep and is out for another 1-2 weeks. This is unfair.

Trade deadline

After starting the season 5-2, the 2021-2022 Hornets were 16-35 at the February 10 trade deadline. I know, you don’t have to tell me; that is very bad. Wanna hear something even better? The only trade offers I got for Terry Rozier or Skal Labissiere involved the Hornets taking back a bloated salary or giving up lottery picks. No thank you, we shall ride out the storm and see what happens.

At least Jonathan Kuminga made the Rising Stars game.

End of the 2021-2022 season

As is routine, PJ got hurt around the All-Star break and was out for 1-2 weeks again.

The Hornets were 18-38 on March 1, which is the worst they’ve been at that point throughout this 2K rebuild. It appears as if signing good players that fit James Borrego’s scheme and have high overall ratings is not the way to build a successful team in NBA 2K20.

Terry broke his nose two separate times in March and missed about 10 games, which freed up some minutes for Pritchard and the Martins.

The Hornets finished the 2021-2022 season 30-52, one game better than their previous two seasons despite drafting Jonathan Kuminga and signing Gordon Hayward and Spencer Dinwiddie. Theoretically, this team would’ve been very good, but that was not in the cards. The results of simulated games are not always accurate in 2K. Sometimes when I do franchise rebuilds on my own time, a god-awful team will make the playoffs and then I’ll draft/sign some guys and it immediately tanks. Oh well.

Luka Doncic won MVP, Bol Bol won Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year, Anthony Davis won Defensive Player of the Year, and Jaden McDaniels was awarded Most Improved Player in his second season. Mike Budenholzer won his third-straight Coach of the Year award.

Jonathan Kuminga was second-team All-Rookie, the only Hornet to win a postseason award of any kind.

The Conference Finals matchups are very funny. 1-seed Milwaukee faces 2-seed Cleveland (???) in the East, and 4-seed Utah gets 7-seed Memphis in the West. I’ll take a dump in my own hand if that happens in real life (parody, not to be held accountable).

The Jazz took the Bucks to Game 7, but Giannis cannot be stopped. He got his second-consecutive ring and Finals MVP, averaging 31 points, 9.6 boards and 6.0 assists while shooting 62 percent from the floor.

With the end of the 2021-2022 Hornets season comes the end of this series. It’s clear that I’m not cut out for the GM life and don’t know how to make a good team actually play like a good team. I did play one game at the end of 2021-2022 just for kicks, and the team was really fun. Hayward’s shooting and passing were fun to utilize in pick-and-roll sets with Devonte’ standing in the corner, and the interior got a lot better with Turner and Oturu. But those things don’t result in wins against the computer, apparently.

I do these at least once-a-week on my own, so it was relieving to be able to tell myself it’s for “work” this time. Thank you to everyone who’s followed along with this and shared their experiences with their own 2K MyLeague rebuilds.