Relative to a lot of schools across the country, the Michigan Wolverines have cranked out a ton of pro talent over the last decade or so considering they are not a blue blood like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas or North Carolina. But how would an NBA expansion team comprised solely of former Wolverines do? Could we at least get them into the playoffs as an eight-seed or something?
Given the current state of the world and the time that is on everyone’s hands, we are going to give it a try using NBA 2K20 on PlayStation 4 and its expansion team feature on MyLeague. Thanks to user ChemicalBeret12, there’s a template readily available to import Michigan as a team right into the game.
We are trying to make the simulation as realistic as possible, so we simply added the Michigan Wolverines as the NBA’s 31st team in lieu of replacing an existing franchise. Which would have absolutely been the Cleveland Cavaliers because...Ohio. I ran an expansion draft and grabbed as many Wolverines were available, then through far too many trades to list here, was able to come up with a roster of 14 players.
Here’s what we’re working with:
(note: I had to change some positions around so we didn’t have like nine guards on the roster)
- Moritz Wagner, PF, 82 overall
- Caris Levert, SF, 81 overall
- Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, 79 overall
- Trey Burke, PG, 78 overall
- Duncan Robinson, SG, 77 overall
- Jamal Crawford, SG, 77 overall
- Glenn Robinson III, SF, 75 overall
- Ekpe Udoh, C, 75 overall
- Nik Stauskas, SF, 73 overall
- D.J. Wilson, PF, 70 overall
- Jordan Poole, PG, 70 overall
- Ignas Brazdekis, SF, 70 overall
- Derrick Walton Jr., PG, 69 overall (nice)
- William Floyd, PG, 68 overall (this player doesn’t exist in real life and the game says he went to Georgia Tech, but we had to fill one last roster spot)
A few takeaways:
- This team is going to be absolutely putrid defensively. Our only player over C- on the interior of the defense is Udoh, who comes in at an A-. Wagner and Wilson are next at C- and D+. We’re going to get bullied inside.
- The same can be said for rebounding, as Udoh and Wagner are B’s here. The next highest is Brazdeikis with a D. Everyone else is a D- or worse.
- It might look somewhat similar from the perimeter, but Levert’s defense there comes in at a B, so that’s alright. Robinson and Hardaway are both C+ defenders there, so fingers crossed we can at least be somewhat average.
- Unsurprisingly, our team of John Beilein players is set to be lethal from outside. Nine of these players come with a 3-point shooting grade of A- or higher. Walton Jr. and Floyd (the fake player) are A+, while Robinson and Burke lead the way of the guys who will see the most playing time with A’s. Offensively, I have no concerns about this team.
Our starting lineup will have Burke at the point, Hardaway at the two, LeVert at the three, Wagner at the four and Udoh at the five. Crawford, the Robinsons, Stauskas, Wilson and Poole make up the players who will see the most time off the bench. Brazdeikis and Walton might need injuries to be active. It will be interesting to see who the CPU subs in as my backup point guard because...we don’t really have one.
What does the computer have this team’s outlook as? The default team status is currently set to “rebuilding,” so they are not all that high on our chances here. Our 2K Wolverines are projected to hold the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, where the mocks have us selecting James Wiseman, which makes sense given our lack of an inside presence.
The preseason power rankings are not all that kind either with 2K projecting us to finish dead last in the league. The NBA.com power rankings have Michigan ranked as the No. 24 team in the league ahead of the Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Hornets, so there’s that.
We just need to get this team into the postseason. We wont go through this stream until we finish the year 15-67. The second we’re eliminated, I stop playing and we sim the rest of the year. WHEN we get into the playoffs, I’ll play it through until the very last whistle.
I should add that I’m going to be the one playing through the simulation. I’ll let the CPU handle substitutions and timeouts, but everything else will be through me. We are going to stream these games live on our newly-created Twitch channel, which you should definitely follow here. We will do some fun things with this project both on the channel and here on the website, so be sure to follow along.
The journey begins Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET live on our Twitch channel as we open the season taking on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, then travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons. See you there!