NBA 2K19 simulation of Victor vs. Irondequoit: What we learned

Virtual Matt Caggiano celebrates a shot late in the fourth quarter. (NBA 2K19 screenshot)

By BILLY HEYEN

Section V’s top seeds in both Class AA and Class A1 boys basketball held control of that position well before the final days of the regular season. But Victor and Irondequoit didn’t play this year, so how they compared on the court will remain a mystery. Pickin’ Splinters looked to solve that on a virtual court Saturday night.

To do so, Pickin’ Splinters simulated an NBA 2K19 game between the Blue Devils and Eagles. Victor won, 69-64, in a game that was back and forth right from the outset. CJ James’ 19 led the Blue Devils, and Keenan Robertson had 17 for the Eagles.

MORE: Heyen: Sports have proven to us not to lose hope

Before we get into what we learned from the simulation, here’s a quick look at the parameters:

  • The simulation took place on a Playstation 4 version of the video game NBA 2K19
  • Each team was given the game’s minimum eight-man rotation
  • Ratings were created by Pickin’ Splinters to best replicate each player’s real-life impact on the floor
  • The game was simulated live with high-school length eight-minute quarters but NBA shot clock and fouling rules
  • Substitutions and timeouts were controlled by the in-game computer
  • Players were placed onto NBA teams due solely to color scheme; Victor played as the Denver Nuggets, while Irondequoit suited up as the Golden State Warriors

Senior leadership

This year’s Victor team spent the majority of the regular season undefeated despite having just one senior starter, point guard Matt Caggiano. In the Blue Devils’ final win of the season, a sectional quarterfinal victory over Fairport, Caggiano was the one who ensured Victor wouldn’t go home early.

“We didn’t want it to be our last one,” Caggiano said Feb. 28. “I really love playing with these guys, and we wanted to go to the Blue Cross. So we had to get it done.”

The same was true on the virtual hardwood Saturday night. Victor fell behind 58-51 early in the fourth, but Caggiano proceeded to score twice and assist twice more to go on an 8-2 run.

After the teams traded baskets, Caggiano hit a baseline jumper as the shot clock expired with less than a minute left to play. It put Victor up three, and Irondequoit wouldn’t score again.

Victor scored 20 points overall in the fourth quarter, and Caggiano scored or assisted on 16 of them. He finished with 17 points and eight assists, responsible for a game-high 33 points in the win.

MORE: NBA 2K19 simulation of East vs. UPrep

Secondary size

Much of the story surrounding Victor’s season was size, and that narrative normally started with the 7-footer Connor Williams inside. That meant that 6-foot-4 Greece Olympia-transfer CJ James flew under the radar for most of the season despite consistently putting up numbers.

James was the one going off early in Saturday night’s virtual contest, scoring eight quick points by running the floor and finishing inside.

Victor was also aided with 10 points from sophomore forward Phil Nwugwo, who was used by the virtual coach to spell both James and Williams. Nwugwo was one of only three Victor players in double figures, along with James and Caggiano.

Williams was quiet for much of the evening, with the ball in his hands frequently without him showing much desire to shoot. But when Victor needed buckets late, Williams turned to an up-and-under move inside before hitting a long 2. He followed that up with a block to hold onto a slim advantage. Victor’s size, like it did most of the season, made a huge difference.

More than a defender

Irondequoit’s Amauri Smith usually knew what his assignment would be this season: Guard the opponent’s best offensive player. That meant matchups with the likes of Hilton’s Tahjae Hill and Eastridge’s Tony Arnold. Using a mix of strength and quickness, Smith made Section V’s top scorers work for every point.

That’s what his ratings reflected in NBA 2K19, a defensive stopper without a huge nose for scoring. But his biggest impact Saturday came on the offensive end and the glass.

Smith scored the game’s first field goal after following up his own miss and finishing with his right hand. He scored again in the first quarter on his own second-chance bucket, too.

Later in the game, Smith scored three times on cuts to the basket with good feeds from his teammates, and he also made it to the foul line on a couple of occasions.

It wouldn’t be enough in the end, but Smith finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for the Eagles in Saturday’s simulation.

Not deterred by height

Irondequoit did something that almost no team even attempted against Victor during the season: The Eagles went inside again and again. Irondequoit finished with 42 of its 64 points in the paint while making only three 3s.

Maybe there’s some game mechanic that led to such success on the interior, but it showed up most shockingly in the output of Nick Leonardo. The 5-foot-10 senior roamed the court all season as a 3-point sniper for the Eagles, but after scoring first on a triple in the simulation, he scored 10 of his final 11 points in the paint (and the other on a free throw to complete an inside three-point play).

After being blocked once early, Eagles star junior Keenan Robertson went to work inside as well to finish with his 17 points overall. The computer-controlled Eagles were hesitant at time to shoot relatively open 3s with Leonardo or Connor Shafer; in real life, those shots might’ve gone up and this game could’ve swung the other way.

Victor-Irondequoit NBA 2K19 simulation highlights

Below are all the video highlights, in order, taken from Saturday night’s simulation of a hypothetical Victor-Irondequoit matchup.

Final scoring totals:

Victor: CJ James (19), Matt Caggiano (17), Phil Nwugwo (10), Chase Dickens (9), Connor Williams (8), Will Stone (4), Will Tehan (2)

Irondequoit: Keenan Robertson (17), Nick Leonardo (14), Amauri Smith (13), Luke Melidona (9), Connor Shafer (4), Jason Jacobs Jr. (4), Jaleel Davis (3)

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