Durant and Young headline players-only NBA 2K tourney

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Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young is set to participate in the first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament beginning later this week. -- JASON GETZ-USA TODAY SPORTS

NATIONAL Basketball Association fans missing their favorite players in action get to see them strutting their stuff albeit on a different platform by way of the NBA 2K video game.

In an official announcement made yesterday, 2K, the NBA, and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) said the “NBA 2K Players Tournament” will get under way beginning April 3 (US time) to provide fans an outlet to be entertained as the battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic rages on.

The NBA regular season was suspended on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Almost every other sport in the United States — and many across the world — have been shut down and are expected to remained shut down for some time.

The NBA 2K20 gameplay tournament will between 16 current NBA players, led by Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks.

It will be a single-elimination, player-only tournament on Xbox One.

The winner will be crowned the ultimate NBA 2K20 champion and select a charity beneficiary to receive a $100,000 donation from 2K, the NBA and the NBPA in support of ongoing coronavirus relief efforts.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times,” said Jason Argent, 2K Senior Vice-President, Sports Strategy and Licensing, in a statement.

“Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together — including athletes, fans and families — and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament,” he added.

It is the same sentiment that the NBA and NBPA shared.

“This tournament offers a unique opportunity for our players to compete with one another while also supporting their philanthropic efforts and engaging with their fans,” said Josh Goodstadt, EVP of Licensing for THINK450, the commercial arm of the NBPA.

“We are excited to work with 2K and the NBA to bring this experience to life for the entire NBA community.”

Based on players’ seeding — which is determined first by NBA 2K rating, second by tenure — players in the tournament will go head-to-head online in NBA 2K20.

Prior to the tournament beginning, every player will choose eight of today’s NBA teams, each of which can only be used once. If a mirror match is set, the away team is awarded first choice of team. Rounds one and two will be single elimination, with the semifinals and finals running best-of-three.

Durant, with a game rating of 96, is the top seed followed by Young (90).

The rest of the top 8 are made up of Portland’s Hassan Whiteside (87), Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (87), Phoenix’s Devin Booker (86), Cleveland’s Andre Drummond (85), Chicago’s Zach LaVine (85) and Montrezl Harrell (85).

The rest of the field has Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis (85), Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton (85), DeMarcus Cousins (81), Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. (81), Washington’s Rui Hachimura (79), LA Clippers’ Patrick Beverley (78), Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes (78) and Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. (78).

Organizers said the roster of participating players is subject to change.

Tournament coverage begins April 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, with a matchup between Jones Jr. (16) and Durant (1) tipping off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Jones Jr. and Durant will each play as one of their pre-selected teams, with Jones Jr. choosing from the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, and Durant choosing from the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz.

Additional matchups will air through April 12. Every tournament game will debut on either ESPN or ESPN2, while also streaming on the ESPN App and running on, the NBA App, and 2K and NBA social channels including Twitter (@NBA2K, @NBA), Twitch (@NBA2K, @NBA), YouTube (@NBA2K, @NBA) and Facebook (@NBA2K, @NBA).

The Lakers’ Anthony Davis was chosen for the cover of the latest edition of the game, NBA 2K20, after Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the cover for 2K19. Other recent cover athletes include Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Durant and LeBron James. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo with Reuters