Lakers Gaming entered their third season in 2022, hoping to improve on their subpar franchise record in their first two seasons. Lakers Gaming finished the 2021 season with a 3-25 record despite some strong individual performances from their star players. After retaining the 2020 Rookie of the Year, “Regg”, first round draft pick “Krazy”, and star shooting guard “ReeseDaGod,” the mission was clear and improvement was key.
Another impactful addition to the squad this year was head coach Brian “Nacho” Traynor. Nacho joined Lakers Gaming with extensive professional gaming experience under his belt. The Cincinnati, Ohio native played in the NBA 2K League’s inaugural season in 2018 for Magic Gaming and then signed with T-Wolves Gaming the following offseason, helping the franchise win the championship in their first year of competition. Nacho brought much needed leadership and installed an organized structure which helped steer the ship in the right direction.
Organization and team cohesiveness was key this year with the NBA 2KL introducing an additional 3v3 format this season. With this change, strategies, personnel, and game plans had to adjust on the fly.
Lakers Gaming started the season on fire, posting a 5-1 record in the group play portion of the TIPOFF Tournament before advancing to the semifinals and falling to the eventual champions, T-Wolves Gaming. A 14-6 record during the opening month of April including several three-game winning streaks was foreshadowing to the complete 180 degree turn of that was the 2022 season.
Lakers Gaming followed up their strong start with a 14-7 record in group play of the SLAM 3v3 Tournament. The team proceeded to sweep Bucks Gaming 4-0 in the first round of bracket play and then came back from a 3-1 deficit vs. Blazer5 Gaming to win their second round series, 4-3. Lakers Gaming ultimately fell in the semifinals to Dux Infinitos in seven games.
After going 3-2 in the next 5v5 tournament, THE TURN, Lakers Gaming had successfully progressed past the first round in the first three tournaments of the year.
During June, Lakers Gaming stayed even with a 14-14 record during the month. In THE SWITCH 3v3 tournament, the Lakers went 11-11, all but securing a playoff spot. The month of July signified the beginning of seed weeks for 2KL in which teams play five games in both 5v5 and 3v3 formats in a critical week for playoff seeding. In the 5v5 section, Lakers Gaming struggled, only winning one game out of five. Despite the team’s poor performance, Lakers Gaming was still able to secure a 5v5 playoff spot. Lakers Gaming fared much better during the 3v3 Seed Weeks, posting a 3-2 record, and securing a playoff berth.
After a combined 3-25 record during 2021 season, Lakers Gaming clinched their first two playoffs berth’s in franchise history. A truly amazing turnaround for the franchise.
The team then headed to Indianapolis where both the 5v5 and 3v3 playoffs would be played live. The team’s first 3v3 playoff game saw Lakers Gaming matchup against the eventual 5v5 champions, Bucks Gaming. Lakers Gaming secured their first playoff win in franchise history with a clean sweep in three games. The team eventually fell in the next round against the 3v3 champions, Pistons GT. The following week, Lakers Gaming played in the 5v5 2KL Championships. The team again was able to secure a first-round victory against Jazz Gaming before falling to the eventual champions, Bucks Gaming.
Lakers Gaming also produced their first ever All-Star during the 2022 season. Arshia “Krazy” Karimi was voted as a NBA 2K League Western Conference All-Star. The #1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA 2K League draft was showing his worth during the year. In his second season, the Dallas native helped lead the team to their best regular season record and clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth. The starting center was an absolute force this season, averaging 18.4 points 13.4 rebounds, and 8.0 assists during regular season 5v5 play, majorly improving on his 2021 averages. He was integral to the newly introduced 3v3 format this year as well. Krazy started nearly every 3v3 matchup during the 2022 season including the team’s first ever playoff win against Bucks Gaming, the eventual 5v5 league champions.
Even though the team was unable to secure any hardware during the 2022 season, it is hard to say that this campaign was anything other than an absolute success. From struggling in the first few years of the franchise’s establishment, to becoming a viable playoff team has to be met with nothing but praise for everyone involved with the organization this year.