TORONTO — Raptors Uprising GC has retained its star trio of point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey, centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp and lockdown defender Trent (Timelycook) Donald for the 2021 NBA 2K League esports season.
Hailey was league MVP and joined Knapp was on the league's first team all-star squad. Donald won Defensive Player of the Year honours and was a second-team all-star.
All three played their part in a historic campaign that saw the Raptors win all 16 regular-season contests and two in-season tournaments before losing to eventual champion Wizards District Gaming in August in the semifinals of the US$920,000 NBA 2K League playoffs.
It marked the Raptors' first defeat since July 12, 2019 — a 407-day span.
Hailey was the first player drafted by Raptors Uprising. Knapp came over in a trade during the 2019 season while Donald, a former member of Kings Guard Gaming, arrived via the 2020 draft.
With all three in the lineup, Raptors Uprising have a 96.5 per cent career winning percentage, posting a 28-1 record in all competitions.
"Our protections will probably come as a surprise to no one," Shane Talbot, esports manager at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement. "Our lineup this past season featured five extremely talented players but the retained trio's accolades speak for themselves.
"We believe that in Kenny, Timely and Jerry, we have the best point guard, lock and centre in the league, and I know they all feel like we have unfinished business."
In protecting a third player, Toronto forfeits a 2021 fourth-round draft pick. Teams will have an option to retain an additional player — for a total of four — at a later date at the cost of additional 2021 draft picks.
That would allow the Raptors to keep Jake (Legit 973) Knapp, Jerry's younger brother, or Maurice (ReeceMode) Flowers. Anthony (Wuan) Rivas was on Toronto's 2020 roster but was not part of the team during the season, having returned to Florida.
Players not retained go back into the league's draft pool.
Hailey, a native of Memphis, led the league in scoring in his first full season at point guard, averaging 35.3 points, 8.3 assists and 3.5 steals.
New Jersey's Jerry Knapp averaged 14.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.7 blocks. Donald, a Cincinnati native, led the league in steals, averaging 4.2 per game while averaging 15.7 points and 3.1 assists.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press