Brothers Jerry and Jake Knapp make their mark with unbeaten Raptors Uprising GC | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Brothers Jerry and Jake Knapp make their mark with unbeaten Raptors Uprising GC

Raptors Uprising centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp is shown in this undated handout image. Raptors Uprising GC really is a family affair this season with brothers Jerry and Jake Knapp adding to the low-maintenance, low-ego feel to the unbeaten NBA 2K league team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Raptors Uprising Gaming Club/MLSE *MANDATORY CREDIT*
June 10, 2020 - 10:16 AM

TORONTO - Raptors Uprising GC really is a family affair this season with brothers Jerry and Jake Knapp adding to the low-maintenance, low-ego feel of the unbeaten NBA 2K League team.

While point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey and centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp are the stars of the team, younger brother Jake (Legit 973) Knapp has joined lockdown defender Trent (Timelycook) Donald and Maurice (ReeceMode) Flowers in arguably the league's best quintet.

"The way that you form NBA 2K League teams is you've got to have a balance of stars and role players," said Shane Talbot, esports manager at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. "Chemistry is a huge thing, especially in our environment where they're all living in a house together.

"Certainly we wanted to make sure that we were putting people around Kenny and Jerry we felt would drive chemistry, who we felt they would get along with and would feel safe with and that they could trust, both in-game and out-of-game. But we also need to make sure they could play."

The Raptors (7-0) return to action Thursday against Blazer5 Gaming (4-3 going into Wednesday play) before facing Celtics Crossover Gaming (0-5 going into Wednesday play) on Friday.

Hailey was the league's player of the month for May, when he averaged 32.9 points, 6.4 assists and 3.1 steals, and has twice won weekly honours

Through 16 games (teams are playing best-of-three series in remote play), Jerry Knapp has 12 double-doubles and four triple-doubles.

Talbot says Jake Knapp, like the others, is playing his part to perfection — a secondary role as power forward.

Jerry, 27, says that's no problem for Jake, who turned 19 on Sunday.

"Because unlike a lot of the players in the league, my brother has no ego," he said.

Talbot says when needed, Jake has shown "ultra-efficient shooting."

"We haven't seen a bad game of shooting out of him," he said.

Other games, Jake may have a lower profile "simply because we didn't need to go to that option."

"In order to play that role, you need to be a really low-ego player — to allow your team to do what it needs out of the other positions while you play a more secondary role," Talbot said. "But also just to remain sharp throughout that entire period. You may not see the ball for possession after possession and then all of a sudden it's going to get kicked to you in what could potentially a broken play and you have to be ready to take that shot and knock it down."

Hailey and Jerry Knapp are also low-maintenance.

"They're very down-to-earth guys, both very low-ego guys," said Talbot. "I'd say both have always played for the win as opposed to individual stats."

Jerry says he and Hailey played together a minimum of 10 hours a week during the off-season to build their chemistry.

The Knapp brothers come from Verona, N.J. — whose area code is 973, hence Jake's handle.

Jerry was drafted in the second round (19th overall) of the 2018 draft by Cavs Legion GC and acquired by Raptors Uprising in May 2019 in exchange for Trevion (All Hail Trey) Hendrix.

Toronto took Jake in the third round (52nd overall) of the 2020 draft on Feb. 22, setting up the league's first-ever brother combo on the same team.

It was an emotional draft night for the brothers, who had lost their mother unexpectedly on Dec. 23. She had undergone a kidney transplant a year before but was in good health. Their father passed away several years ago.

"This season I really needed him here with me," Jerry said of his brother. "And I think he needed me too. I didn't want to come here without him. I didn't want to leave him home in New Jersey alone."

Draft night, Jerry said he was more excited. nervous and scared about Jake's fate than he was on his own draft night back in 2018.

"When I heard his name, I just went crazy," said Jerry.

Talbot said while the blood ties were welcome, Jake Knapp was a worthy pick. In reviewing IBM player data, Jake ranked at the top of his role.

"And for a player that wasn't getting talked about a lot, we felt like he was probably getting overlooked," Talbot said.

Still, Jake was expected to be the team's sixth man. That changed when fellow rookie Anthony (Wuan) Rivas did not work out and went home to Miami.

"He was downstairs watching us play while he was the sixth man," Jerry said of Jake. "He just learned everything. Eventually he got his chance and when he got in, there was just no taking him out."

Growing up, Jerry started to play NBA 2K for small amounts of cash on the GamerSaloon website. When he kept on winning, he started dropping other games and focused on 2K.

Jerry says the brothers did not play games together much because of their age difference, although that has changed in recent years.

Prior to joining the NBA 2K League, Jerry worked at the YMCA as a basketball coach for kids. A diehard New York Giants fan, he also worked security at MetLife Stadium.

Jake finished high school before joining Raptors Uprising.

"It's been everything I wanted and more," said the younger Knapp, who started playing the game competitively with 2K16.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2020.


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News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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