Donovan Mitchell Proves The NBA2k Tournament Has Potential

Apr 5, 2020, 6:37 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2020, 12:23 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell lost his first-round matchup against Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura, ending the All-Star’s tournament in upset fashion. Mitchell, the tournament’s fourth seed lost to the 13th seeded Hachimura.

While the loss may sting Mitchell who proclaimed “I let everybody down,” immediately following the game, it’s bound to hurt ESPN’s video game streaming gamble even more, at least domestically.

The tournament, featuring 16 of the more recognizable NBA players is a novel concept in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has sidelined the entire sports world. Putting some of the league’s stars on national television to highlight their personalities while playing NBA 2k grants the league a good duel marketing campaign, as long as the right players are involved.

Until Mitchell’s matchup with Hachimura, the five previous games have been tremendous blowouts. Before Mitchell’s three-point loss, the closes margin of victory came in the opening game of the tournament when Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant lost to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Derrick Jones Jr. 78-62.

As a result of the lopsided games, the action is driven more strongly by the personalities competing. Mitchell, a natural talker whether he’s in front of the camera or not, never struggles to say something interesting.

Hachimura, who grew up in Japan and only started speaking the English language during his three seasons at Gonzaga was understandably less vocal on the gaming headset. Though having his presence will create international interest the tournament may otherwise lack, conversation between the two players was noticeably lacking.

The eSports format is ideal for a player with Mitchell’s magnanimous, though boisterous personality that gives the game’s viewers a real taste of how the star is wired competitively while plays the game.

The fact that the game remained close through, with Hachimura leading by four at halftime, two after the third quarter and Mitchell missing a game-tying three-point helped to fill the voids during a lack of conversation between the two unfamiliar players. Otherwise, Mitchell’s onesided conversation had to carry the load.

The solution? With the qualify of the games themselves lacking, the tournament would be better focused on pairing players with some existing camaraderie to carry the load. In a situation where that’s not possible, the game could use a mediator and consistent comical voice (think Charles Barkley) to help drive the conversation.

With sports sidelined for the time being and no definite end in sight, the move towards eSports featuring recognizable names is a better than adequate solution for fans hungry for sports content. What the games themselves could rely on to help grow the audience is a willingness to expand beyond the restriction of a single professional league, finding the best personalities across all of the major sports, and adding a consistent voice to mediate and initiate the narrative of the product.

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Donovan Mitchell Proves The NBA2k Tournament Has Potential