Lakers, Nets, Hawks, Timberwolves Added to NBA 2K League

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2018

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the start of the NBA 2K League draft Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in New York. Launching in 2018, the league will feature the best NBA 2K players in the world and will draft players to compete as unique characters in 5-on-5 play against the other teams in a mix of regular-season games, tournaments and playoffs. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves have purchased expansion franchises in the NBA 2K League before its second season.

The NBA 2K League confirmed the additions after Jacob Wolf of ESPN.com first reported the additions, at $750,000 apiece for three seasons, will bring the video game league's team total to 21.

NBA2KLeague @NBA2KLeague

ATLANTA. BROOKLYN. LOS ANGELES. MINNESOTA. Welcome to the #NBA2KLeague. https://t.co/5JUfDYFzwn

The expansion draft is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 28 following the Aug. 25 completion of the debut campaign.

Blazer5 Gaming, the Portland Trail Blazers' affiliate, finished the regular season with the best record at 12-2. The playoffs kick off Friday, leading up to next week's championship finals.

In April, NBA commissioner Adam Silver discussed the importance of treating the 2K League the same way it would its other real-life entities.

"From the NBA's standpoint, this is our fourth league," he told reporters. "We have the NBA, the WNBA, the G-League and now this is the fourth league in our family, and that's exactly as we're treating it."

The league has struggled to gain traction throughout its first season, though.

Wolf noted the 2K League broadcasts have averaged 10,500 concurrent viewers, based on TwitchTracker data. By comparison, Fortnite Battle Royale superstar Ninja is garnering nearly 71,000 viewers concurrently per Twitch stream, which showcases the growth opportunity in the market.

Some NBA 2K League owners have been "disappointed by the viewership and engagement that have led to struggle in advertising and partnership sales," per Wolf. The report also noted expansion organizations will be forced to cover the costs for the creation of their video game teams.

The early growing pains aren't stopping the early expansion movement, though. It wouldn't be a surprise if eventually all 32 NBA teams have a squad in the 2K League.