Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
We’re just a couple of weeks away from the release of NBA 2K17, at least in terms of the Early Tip-Off Weekend. I’ve been planning on spending more time with MyLEAGUE this year, so needless to say, I was glad to read about some of the various additions and improvements that we can expect to see in the mode. Although I’m traditionally a franchise gamer, my attention has been drawn to other modes in recent years. From the sounds of things, NBA 2K17 will be a good year to get back into the franchise experience, offline and online.
Before starting a franchise game, it’s important to decide which team you’re going to use. Unless you decide to control all thirty teams in MyLEAGUE, you’ll need to choose carefully, as picking a team that you don’t enjoy playing with is a good way of putting a quick end to a franchise game. Each year, offseason player movement results in new lineups that not only seem like they’ll be fun to watch in real life, but also fun to play with in basketball video games. For this week’s Friday Five, I thought I’d pick my top five teams of interest in NBA 2K17; in other words, the most interesting and appealing teams to choose for a MyLEAGUE or MyGM game.
5. Chicago Bulls
Alright, I’ll admit that there’s a healthy amount of bias in this pick, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s completely off-base either. I’m not getting too carried away with my expectations for them in real life, but I’m thinking that the Bulls will be an interesting team to play with in NBA 2K17. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol are gone, but the team made a little noise in free agency by going out and signing Rajon Rondo, as well as Chicago’s own Dwyane Wade. In doing so, they’ve gone from a team that was on the brink of falling from relevance, to a squad that should at least be fun to watch.
As I said, I feel like they’ll be fun to play with, too. In addition to Wade and Rondo, they still have Jimmy Butler. Chicago didn’t luck out and beat the odds in the lottery, but Denzel Valentine seems to have some potential. Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic also still have room for improvement, and veterans like Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez are very solid. I would suggest that they definitely don’t have a championship-calibre roster in real life, but in NBA 2K17, I expect they’ll be a little more competitive. A lack of three-point shooting could certainly be a problem, however…perhaps it’ll be time to bring back Ben Gordon, if he’s in the game.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
After twenty seasons, the Kobe Bryant era is over in Los Angeles, although he does appear on the cover of the Legend Edition of NBA 2K17. On the surface, his departure may seem to make the Lakers less of a draw, but I would suggest that in some ways, they’ll be more interesting than they have been in years. At the risk of sounding corny and cliché, it’s a new day and a new era for one of the league’s most storied franchises. With Kobe calling it a career, the team is finally moving on, and the youth movement and rebuilding effort is in full swing. If you were a fan of the team in the mid 90s – after Magic and before Shaq and Kobe – it might seem familiar.
Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are a young team with low expectations, but high potential. They’ve got second overall pick Brandon Ingram, a Rookie of the Year candidate and a player pegged as a future star. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson are also promising young players, and they have a couple of capable veterans in Luol Deng and Lou Williams. They should be fun to play with in NBA 2K17, but there’s also room to make a couple of moves if you’d like to tinker straight away. They’ve been struggling in recent years, but the Lakers still have a loyal fanbase, and their future seems bright. I can see them being a popular choice.
3. New York Knicks
Derrick Rose has made some bold statements since joining the New York Knicks. In his defense, they’re certainly much closer to being a “super team” than they were last season, and I think his comment about winning every game has been taken out of context. I took it to mean that they’d be competitive and in with a chance every game this season, not that he believes they can actually go 82-0. In any event, he obviously has high expectations for his new team, and his confidence probably isn’t entirely misplaced. New York should fare much better this season if everyone remains healthy, likely making the Playoffs and at least returning to relevance.
If you pick the Knicks in NBA 2K17, you’ll probably be able to fair even better than that. In Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah, they have three players who are either All-Stars, or are a couple of years removed from being All-Stars and still serviceable. Kristaps Porzingas proved a lot of people wrong in his rookie campaign, and seems to have a bright future. Courtney Lee was a solid offseason pickup, and Brandon Jennings is a player looking to bounce back after a major injury. There’s enough talent on the roster to either facilitate trades or be competitive in NBA 2K17, as well as some intriguing subplots if you decide to keep the team together.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
For Philadelphia 76ers fans, trusting the process may finally be paying off. The 76ers have somewhat controversially been content to bottom out for the past few seasons, stockpiling lottery picks and selecting players with a lot of potential. With the arrival of highly touted prospect Ben Simmons, we may finally see them begin to rise in the standings once more. I’ve seen a couple of people take on the challenge of rebuilding the 76ers in MyLEAGUE and MyGM in the past couple of years, and while there’s still a long way to go, that task may finally be getting a little easier.
Because he’s an Aussie, and spent some of his childhood in my hometown – in fact, a guy I went to high school with actually coached him in the youth leagues – Simmons alone actually makes me consider using the 76ers instead of my beloved Bulls. He’s not the only talented player in that young core, though. There’s also Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid is set to finally make his NBA debut. There should be some trade possibilities there, though it might be more fun to keep the team mostly intact. The 76ers will still be a challenging choice in NBA 2K17, but they’re shaping up to be a much more appealing project to undertake.
1. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors will no doubt be the bane of online gamers in NBA 2K17, and they’ll probably be pretty tough to beat when the CPU is controlling them as well. The developers have taken on the challenge of accurately representing Stephen Curry’s ability to knock down threes from just about anywhere, and according to the hands-on previews so far, they’ve succeeded. However, that’s also going to make them a lot of fun to play with, as you’ll be able to shoot the lights out with Curry and his fellow Splash Brother, Klay Thompson. Draymond Green is also still there, with his great all around abilities and tremendous defensive prowess.
Of course, what really puts the Warriors over the top as a team of interest in NBA 2K17 is the addition of Kevin Durant. It may have been a controversial move for KD to make, but that’s where he’s ended up, and it’s given Golden State a very imposing lineup; probably the best rated starting five in the history of basketball video games, outside of a Decade All-Stars squad or the 1992 Dream Team (who are also in NBA 2K17). They’ve lost a little bit of depth in clearing space to bring in Durant, but the Warriors are still built to compete and win it all. With so many highly rated players, there’ll be plenty of options for wheeling and dealing in MyLEAGUE and MyGM.
Five Honourable Mentions
With LeBron James re-signing for three seasons, and Kyrie Irving establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the league, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers should be another popular choice. The Boston Celtics picked up Al Horford, and have a talented group of players who are still quite young. The Minnesota Timberwolves are another rebuilding team with a lot of promise, and athleticism. The Charlotte Hornets have some of the best team branding in the league, and a pretty decent roster. Finally, if you want to try to set some individual records, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder might be a good bet.
Please be advised that this just my opinion, a shortlist of the teams that I think will be among the most fun and interesting to take control of in MyLEAGUE or MyGM in NBA 2K17. Everyone’s taste will differ, and we probably all have a preference for our own favourite team, so don’t take this as a definitive list. With that being said, who do you think are the most appealing or interesting (current) NBA teams in NBA 2K17? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.