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Preparations for the third season of the NBA 2K League kicked off Tuesday when Wizards District Gaming and Mavs Gaming announced protected players from the upcoming expansion draft. Washington opted to protect Ryan “Dayfri” Conger and Maurice “ReeseDaGod” Delaney. Dallas used all three protection slots on Artreyo “Dimez” Boyd, Peter “PeteBeBallin” Malin, and Justin “Sherm” Sherman.

The moves to protect players stemmed from an announcement made by the league on Aug. 16 regarding the expansion draft happening in September. Each of the 21 NBA 2K League teams from season two must select at least two players to protect from the draft. Teams have the option to protect a third player at the cost of a third-round draft pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft.

The unprotected players from the 21 teams go into a player pool for the expansion draft. The expansion draft date is to be determined. Currently, Hornets Venom GT is the only expansion team to be announced for the 2020 season, but NBA 2K League fans speculate more to come because of the undetermined draft date.

The deadline for teams to select their protected players is Monday, Sept. 2. For the full list of league rules regarding players post-expansion draft, view the league’s official release.

Wizards District Gaming protected players

A slow start doomed the Wizards District Gaming crew in the 2019 NBA 2K League season. The team finished 15th in the standings with a record of 7-9. A roster shakeup was to be expected by the Wizards.

Delaney was the main offensive weapon for Wizards District Gaming in 2019. Taking on a bigger role with the team, Delaney averaged 20.7 points per game. That mark led the team and ranked Delaney third in the league overall. The Chicago native added 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals to his 2019 per game stat line.

In 2019, Conger represented a solid all-around player for Wizards District Gaming. Although his 14.9 points per game were average among league scoring, Conger supplemented the scoring by averaging per game 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.0 steals.

With the Tuesday announcement, Wizards District Gaming risk losing Johnathon “Demon JT” Fields, Isaac “Gilly” Gilton, Michael “USERPICK” Albiter, and Paul “PaulB” Bradford in the expansion draft.

Mavs Gaming protected players

For Mavs Gaming, it was important to utilize all three protection slots. The Dallas squad solidified its spot as one of the top teams in the league early on in the season. Mavs Gaming finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and the second seed in the playoffs. The Dallas season ended by losing in the playoff quarterfinals to Celtics Crossover Gaming.

Boyd was a no-brainer for Mavs Gaming to protect. The point guard led Dallas in points per game with 16.7 (15th in the league) and assists per game with 8.7 (sixth). The top pick in the 2018 NBA 2K League draft has been a catalyst to Mavs Gaming’s success.

Malin had success for his first year in the league. The rookie center dominated the glass for Mavs Gaming averaging 11.2 boards per game. Malin paired this with 14.3 points per game to average a double-double on the season. For his efforts, Malin earned a spot on the 2019 All-Rookie Team.

According to the stat sheet, Sherman may come as a surprise as one of the players protected by Mavs Gaming. Sherman averaged just 7.3 points per game but was better known for his defense and efficiency. The guard averaged 1.9 steals per game while only committing 0.6 turnovers per game.

Mavs Gaming’s decision to protect three players sends Grant “GRANT MONSTER” Barker, Matthew “Rux” Rux, and Moustapha “Mo” Saab to the expansion draft player pool.

For the latest news regarding protected players from the other 19 NBA 2K League teams, stay tuned to Daily Esports!