The NBA 2K League, an esports competition made up of 17 teams linked to NBA franchises, will hold its first significant event on Wednesday when 102 players are drafted to fill out the league’s rosters.

NBA 2K League Draft
The NBA 2K League will start its inaugural season with an initial player draft this Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. (Image: NBA 2K League)

The 17 NBA teams that decided to participate in the esports league were announced last May. Each team will draft six players that made it through a long selection process, one that started with about 72,000 applicants and included 250 finalists before a “combine” period led to the selection of the eligible players who would make up the initial rosters for each team.

‘Dimez’ Could Be No. 1 Pick

Those players will take center stage Wednesday. MavsGG, the esports organization of the Dallas Mavericks, has the first pick in the draft, and are widely expected to take Artreyo Boyd, better known as “Dimez” in the NBA 2K community. Based out of Cleveland, the 23-year-old virtual point guard has sometimes been refered to as the LeBron James of NBA 2K.

“Everybody in the community, fans, other competitors, all consider me the No. 1 draft prospect,” Dimez told ThePostGame. “They call me the LeBron James of 2K because this year alone, I’ve been to six out of eight finals and out of the six we’ve been to, we’ve won four in a row.”

The Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings have the next three picks, and they might be selection players with handles like “oFab,” “WorthingColt,” and “Mootyy.” These aren’t exactly household names, but should the NBA 2K League prove successful, the hope is that the star players will gain at least a fraction of the visibility their real-world basketball counterparts enjoy.

The individual teams involved are each aiming for success, though not every franchise has the same plan. For instance, Celtics Crossover Gaming (CLTX Gaming) – the esports organization of the Celtics – wants to take the same approach as their parent club when it comes to building their team.

“Each team is going to have a different approach about what matters to them,” CLTX Gaming managing director Jim Ferris told ThePostGame. “We have a long history of the types of players that we choose, and we’re having the conversation with our basketball operations about how we chose and the types of questions that we ask and what matters to us in terms of fielding a new set of Celtics players.”

Playing in the Big Leagues

Other teams have brought celebrity talent into their front offices in order to generate additional hype ahead of the league’s launch. Actor Jerry Ferrara is the head of Knicks Gaming, while Shaquille O’Neal is the general manager of Sacramento’s entry, Kings Guard Gaming. Shaq is not only an NBA legend, but also he has some esports credibility as well, as he is one of the owners of NRG eSports.

The draft is being held live at Madison Square Garden in New York City, with the event scheduled to begin at 1 pm Wednesday. Players drafted in the first round will earn a $35,000, six-month contract, while other players will earn $32,000. Players will also receive paid housing, expenses, and medical insurance, and can earn additional money throughout the season thanks to a $1 million pool.

The first season of the NBA 2K League begins in May and will wrap up in August.