The NBA 2K League is still finishing up its first season, but the esports competition is already announcing that there will be some more teams in contention when its second year begins.

NBA 2K League Expansion
Four more NBA franchises will be adding squads to the NBA 2K League for its second season, bringing the esports competition to 21 teams. (Image: Michelle Farsi/NBAE/Getty)

According to a Wednesday announcement from the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves will all be sponsoring franchises for the virtual basketball league in its second season.

Those four will join an existing group of 17 teams that competed in the first year of play for the league.

Inflating Esports Basketball

According to ESPN sources, the cost to new franchises is $750,000 for three years of play, the same price that was paid by the inaugural members of the league.

The four expansion teams have yet to announce their affiliated brands that will compete in the NBA 2K League. These brands have so far been similar to the parent NBA franchises: for instance, Heat Check Gaming is the affiliate of the Miami Heat.

In a statement, NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue said that the addition will improve the global reach of the esports organization.

Welcoming these four world-class organizations and their passionate fanbases to the NBA 2K League is an exciting moment not only for the league, but for the entire 2K community, Donohue said. We know each of these teams will be a tremendous addition, and we are thrilled that this growth offers the opportunity for new players, coaches, and support staff to join the league.

League Earns Mixed Reviews in First Season

According to ESPN, response to the 2K League from within the NBA has been mixed. The competition has given NBA owners who are not yet invested in esports a natural, relatively low-cost outlet to engage in the growing industry, as the price of entry is far lower than in alternatives like the Overwatch League, where new owners are paying $20 million or more to establish franchises.

However, many have been disappointed in the relatively low viewership and fan engagement the league has seen so far, which has made it difficult for teams to find sponsorship and advertising partners.

The inaugural regular season of the first NBA 2K League has already wrapped up, with the playoffs set to begin on Friday. Blazer5 Gaming, the affiliate of the Portland Trail Blazers, enters the playoffs as the top seed.

Teams will compete in a single-elimination quarterfinal round, before the best-of-three semifinal on Saturday. The best-of-three finals will be held on Saturday, August 25 in New York.

While the league may not yet be garnering massive crowds, it is trying to make stars out of some of its best players. The 2K League recently announced its award winners for the first season, honoring individuals in categories like Coach of the Year and Sportsmanship.

Blazer5 Gaming center Dayne OneWildWalnut Downey earned both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards after averaging 21.1 points and 14 rebounds per game in the regular season. Downey is also a basketball player in the real world: he plays college ball for Santa Monica College, where he scored 6.1 points per game in his freshman year last season.

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