Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images Dat Boy Shotz

Just one month after the end of Season 1, the NBA 2K League is opening the book on Season 2. On Sept. 26, the league will host its inaugural expansion draft. With four new franchises joining -- Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers -- each of the original 17 teams can protect two players in the Expansion Draft. The remaining 68 players are eligible for Wednesday's two-round event.

Only one player per team can be selected in the Expansion. The 17 original teams will then have the opportunity to protect a second batch of players not selected in the Expansion Draft before the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft.

Executives with the Hawks, Nets, Timberwolves and Lakers will have their hands full building new rosters next week. Below is a list of the best players available -- not necessarily an order of a mock draft. Teams will likely draft based on the positions they feel they will need while building the foundation of a franchise.

1. Dat Boy Shotz, PF (Connor Rodrigues, Blazer5 Gaming)

Dat Boy Shotz might as well have been a top 20 player in the NBA 2K League in Season 1, and he is only in the expansion draft because his team was too good. OneWildWalnut and Mama Im Dat Man were both MVP finalists, with Walnut taking the crown (and earning Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well). Meanwhile, Shotz averaged 19.2 points for the dominant Blazer5 Gaming (12-2 in regular season, "The Turn" Tournament champs) and spent the first half of the season in the MVP race. The consensus among players, executives and fans points to Shotz being the best player from Year 1 who is available in the expansion draft. Like Dimez for the 2018 NBA 2K League Draft, there are arguments to be made that other players have a higher ceiling than Shotz, but he is the safest pick to build around.

2. Arsonal X, C (Devon Peek, CLTX Gaming)

With oFab and MelEast having well-documented chemistry, it was unsurprising to see Arsonal X go unprotected. Some players around the league have suggested Arsonal's 2018 statistical success was inflated by playing with oFab as point guard. I disagree. While oFab obviously made Arsonal X better, there were glimpses of his individual talent. Before the patch, Arsonal spent the first half of the season dominating in the post, and throughout the season, he was a fierce rim protector. His 11.0 rebounds per game (second in the NBA 2K League) and 1.5 blocks per game (sixth) had little to do with his point guard. Arsonal is a reliable two-way center to build around.

3. Mootyy, PF/C (Mitchell Franklin, Kings Guard Gaming)

Kings Guard could only protect one member of its big three, and as a bit of a surprise, Mootyy was the odd man out. Despite the hype in Sacramento going into the season, Mootyy and WorthingColt could never find chemistry down low, which resulted with TimelyCook moving to small forward and Colt to point guard after the patch. Kings Guard found some mojo near the end of the season, highlighted by its "The Ticket" win over Blazer5 Gaming. Mootyy seemed to finally find the groove that made him the No. 4 overall pick back in April, but apparently it wasn't enough to convince Sacramento to build around him. Instead, he will get a second chance elsewhere. Mootyy's an energetic personality and he was definitely humbled in Season 1. Don't let the shades fool you. He's a character, but he can also ball out on the sticks.

4. KontruL, PG (Christopher Cantrell, Magic Gaming)

This is still an enigma to me. If you asked me in Week 11 who Magic Gaming's best player had been all season, I'd say KontruL without hesitation. Sure, KingCamRoyalty surpassed expectations as a sixth-round pick and UCManny could feel it from the outside, but KontruL was the engine running the offense. Although KontruL was not the loudest of the first-round picks -- and arguably went too high at No. 8 -- he still guided Magic Gaming to the edge of the playoffs. Yet, head coach DevGoss benched KontruL for the first time all season in Game 13 on the final day of the regular season, as Magic Gaming fell to Cavs Legion GC, 88-77. KontruL was back in the lineup for Game 14, as Magic Gaming eliminated CLTX Gaming with an 81-68 win behind 25 points and seven assists from KontruL. And still, Magic Gaming did not protect KontruL. He's the best point guard in the Expansion Draft and if an expansion team also takes a reliable big, KontruL can be part of an excellent one-two punch. Considering selections by position will likely not be a factor in the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft, there is little reason to pass on KontruL in the expansion round.

5. MrSlaughter01, C (Malik Leisinger, Jazz Gaming)

Jazz Gaming leaving MrSlaughter01 unprotected left a lot of people scratching heads. Statistically, he might be the best player available in the draft after averaging 19.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The biggest question is converting that to team success. Yeah I Compete and Deedz, the two players protected, also put up high numbers, but Jazz Gaming struggled immensely in the second half of the season. Slaughter is almost a lock to find his way into the expansion draft, but if he drops out, Jazz Gaming will have a tough decision in terms of re-protecting him or not. Utah holds the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft, assuming it does not protect a player.

6. Vert, PF/C (Jordan Gates, Warriors Gaming Squad)

Although Warriors Gaming struggled at points during the 2018 season, Vert was the team's most consistent player on offense. His 20.4 points per game were good for eighth in the league -- most among unprotected players. His 8.7 rebounds were also strong and his defense solid (1.0 blocks, 1.4 steals). With so many good bigs in the draft, there is concern as to all being selected, so Vert is still not a lock to get off the board Wednesday.

7. NateKahl, SF/PF (Nate Kahl, Knicks Gaming)

NateKahl finds himself in such an interesting position. He's the golden boy of the NBA 2K League, winning NBA 2K League Finals MVP with some old-school, blue-collar defense. He's a mature leader who is waiting to be the face of a new franchise connecting with fans in the community. If he goes in the Expansion Draft, you will only hear good things from the NBA 2K League community. But is it worth drafting a defensive stopper as a top-two player? Expansion teams will have to ask themselves this. If Nate Kahl is Andre Iguodala, does that make him a great role player or a piece to build around?

8. IFEAST, PF (Mihad Feratovic, 76ers GC)

Feast is in the same boat as Nate Kahl. Let's call him prime Shane Battier. He's one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, but his scoring is in the middle of the pack. Is he worth an expansion pick or is it worth sacrificing defense for a scorer?

9. IdrisDaGoat, SF/PF/C (Idris Richardson, Knicks Gaming)

Much of Knicks Gaming's late-season success came thanks to its depth. Although GOOFY757 was the team's first-round selection, all five players could be the team's star at any time, as highlighted by iamadamthe1st's dominance beginning with "The Ticket." Idris, a fifth-round pick, entered the draft as a relatively unknown player and made Jerry Ferrara look like a genius. His 18.6 points and 6.0 rebounds were strong, but his versatility is key. GOOFY has said Idris might be the better inside defender between the two of them, yet Idris spent the post-patch run as a small forward. Look out for an expansion team to pick Idris and move him back down low. Also, as a reminder, only one player from each original NBA 2K League team can be selected in the expansion draft, so Knicks Gaming can't lose both Nate and Idris. I still wouldn't be surprised if neither gets selected and Knicks Gaming brings back four members of its championship team.

10. TuckerLocksUp, C (Tucker Henry, Pacers Gaming)

Like KontruL, Tucker confused the league in 2018. Although his 2.0 blocks per game were second in the league, Pacers Gaming abruptly benched Tucker for much of the final month of the season, preferring mid-year addition Shockey as a big. But Tucker is still drawing interest in the expansion draft for his defense in the post. While Nate and Feast may be great on-ball defenders, Tucker's inside defense could be seen as more valuable.

11. Godof2k, SF (Marcus Glenn, Cavs Legion GC)

In Season 1, we saw Godof2k bounce around posititons, but wherever he went, he could defend. Again, this will come down to how expansion teams view the draft. Will there be enough strong defenders in the 2019 draft pool or will original teams protect their top defenders when given a second chance?

12. Im So Far Ahead, PG (Frederick Mendoza, Pistons GT)

This is an interesting one. I'm writing this list based straight on talent, but Im So Far Ahead may actually have more potential to be in the expansion draft than his talent suggests. Im So Far Ahead is the second-best point guard available in this expansion draft. Considering how valuable point guards are to the league, it might be a smart choice by an expansion team to lock Im So Far Ahead up as a second star. The NBA 2K community insists there will be a new crop of formidable point guards in the 2019 draft, but with positions likely not being a factor, why not bring Im So Far Ahead in? I think Pistons GT tried to pull a fast one on the league by protecting iiNsaniTTy and also hoping Im So Far Ahead would make it to the next layer of protection. And the more I think about it, the more I could see him off the board next week.

13. oLARRY, C (Timothy Anselimo, Bucks Gaming)

It goes without saying that we are all hoping for the best for oLARRY after the tragedy in Jacksonville. The Bucks Gaming center was shot three times with bullets in the chest, thigh and thumb while participating in the Madden Tournament that saw a gunman open fire on the crowd. OLarry pulled through and survived, thanks to the help of hero Jordan Williams. Given that, I know oLARRY and he'd want me to tell it how it is. Had oLARRY not suffered his wounds, I think he gets protected by Bucks Gaming and he is not even a part of this discussion. However, what happened happened and Bucks Gaming chose not to protect its center. Due to oLARRY's thumb injury, I think teams will go cold on taking him as one of their top two players. This opens the door for a return to Milwaukee. 

14. KingQuai614, C (Seanquai Harris, Raptors Uprising GC)

KingQuai spent most of the first half of the season on Raptors Uprising's bench. As a sixth-round pick, he watched his team get out to a 1-5 start. Perhaps not coincidentally, Raptors Uprising went 7-1 in the regular season after putting KingQuai down low. He averaged 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds while providing defense in the post and leadership off the sticks. If KingQuai doesn't go in the expansion draft, he'll likely be the first player Raptors Uprising protects.

15. 24K Dropoff, SF/PF (Basil Rose, Heat Check Gaming)

Last April, moments after he was drafted, I asked Dropoff how it felt to be selected by Heat Check Gaming. He told me he didn't interview anywhere else and just wanted to play for Famous Enough. His plan worked out, as he was a third-round pick and part of a team that made it all the way to the NBA 2K League Finals. Now, he is left unprotected and a team could consider building around Dropoff as the star. However, expansion teams will have trouble selecting a player who spent the second half of last season clearing a path for Hotshot in Heat Check's five-out offense. As I've joked, the five-out offense was the best thing Famous Enough could have done for his team in the Expansion Draft. It is unlikely to see a Heat Check Gaming player go, which would mean Dropoff can return to Miami for Season 2.

16. Rux, SG, SF, PF, C (Matthew Rux, Pistons GT)

I'm listing Rux at every position except point guard because last year, he basically proved he could play anywhere. Like Idris and Godof2k, Rux could be drafted for his versatility. His stats didn't show Expansion Draft potential last year, but Rux's teammates loved him and the community holds him in high regard.

17. Winner_Stayz _On, PG (Larell Mitchell, Grizz Gaming)

Winner obviously did not have the year he expected to have, going No. 15 in the inaugural NBA 2K League Draft. His skill is unquestioned and from what I heard through multiple league executives, his first impression during last year's draft interview process made him a hot commodity. But something didn't click in Memphis and the team gelled significantly better when he didn't play He's looking for a re-do in Season 2 and he might get it. The expansion draft may be too soon, but if Winner can show a team he's ready to be a team player, he has too much skill not to have a job come 2019.

18. Jin, SF/PF (Jin Choe, Wizards District Gaming)

If we had this conversation mid-way through the season, Jin would have nearly been a shoo-in for the expansion draft. After Boo Painter moved to small forward due to the patch, Jin lost his scoring ferociousness. With settings likely changing for Year 2, it would not be crazy for a team to take a chance on Jin's high-flying offense. 

19. XGREATXGILLY13, C (Isaac Gilton, Wizards District Gaming)

All season, Wizards District Gaming players and execs said the league was sleeping on Gilly. Despite his massive real-life presence, Gilly is cool and collected and defers to teammates when talking with the media. But his reliability as a center, especially defensively, is undeniable. Gilly's offensive stats were brought down by running five-out with Boo Painter, but his 1.4 blocks per game are for real.

20. vGooner, PG/SG (Jamie Bull, Pacers Gaming)

There is a case for the pure sharps and Gooner is the top of the class. According to 2K Analytics, his 2.6 3-pointers made per game were second to only iamadamthe1st. Although Pacers Gaming lacked the weapons of a team like 76ers GC, which led to high shooting numbers from ZDS and Newdini, Gooner did a lot with a little. He probably won't get selected, with point guards and bigs dominating the expansion draft, but he's a sneaky-good pick.

Honorable Mentions: FrostyTheTruth, ZDS, Newdini, BallLikeSeem, LYKaPRO

-- Along with being senior editor for ThePostGame, Jeff Eisenband is an analyst for the NBA 2K League. Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.