We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.
Playing through MyCAREER in NBA 2K17, I’ve learned a few things. One, never underestimate the importance of Badges; they really help give your player an extra boost. Two, when you’re a point guard playing for the Denver Nuggets and you’re looking to rack up a lot of assists, Justice Young and Kenneth Faried will happily oblige with baskets on catch-and-shoot and pick-and-roll opportunities respectively. And three, getting on the Italian cover of NBA 2K17 has clearly gone to Danilo Gallinari’s head…well, his virtual counterpart’s head, at any rate.
Halfway through my rookie season, the Nuggets are clearly the Orange Juice show. Yes, that still sounds a bit silly to say, but the point is, Justice and I have clearly taken over, and the team is thriving as a result. It seems that Danilo Gallinari didn’t get the memo though, because his play and attitude in practice and in games seems to suggest that he believes himself to be the star of the team. He still plays his role and he hasn’t cost us any games – yet, anyway – but there are times when it feels like he’s keen to impeach The President of Basketball. I have nothing against the real Gallo, but in MyCAREER, he’s become my least favourite teammate.
I suppose I can understand his frustration. He’s the established veteran who’s resiliently worked his way back from a serious injury, and I’m the mid-first round pick who’s suddenly been handed control of the team. That has to be a blow to his ego, especially after that NBA 2K17 cover. However, it’s not as though the team’s trust in Orange Juice hasn’t paid off. Justice is leading the league in three-point shooting, and I’ve been re-writing the record books when it comes to steals and assists. It’s halfway through January, and we haven’t lost a game since November. It’s easy for me to say when I’m not the one making sacrifices, but we should all be happy with our success.
It’s clearly been a rough transition for Gallinari, though. Whenever we’re running fast break drills in practice, I know that we’re not going to perform them to the best of our abilities. When Gallo is the one bringing the ball up the floor during the drill, nine times out of ten, he’s not passing it. He’s taking his defender to the basket or pulling up to launch a three, regardless of how open anyone else is…especially me. Sometimes he’ll pass me the ball if I call for it, but even then he’ll often ignore me, no matter how open I am. At other times, he’ll seemingly sabotage pick-and-roll drills, refusing to shoot when he’s open and letting time expire, failing the attempt.
During games, it’s not quite as bad. He’s probably the teammate who’s the most reluctant to pass me the ball, though he doesn’t exactly freeze me out either. He has a tendency to hold onto the ball for too long though, hesitating to swing it over to me so that I can keep it moving, hitting Young on the perimeter for an open three-pointer or lobbing it up to Faried when he has an open path to the rim. I get the impression that Gallinari still wants the offense to be run through him, and even though he’s not one to rack up a lot of assists, it seems he’d rather pick one up than allow me to pad my stats and make much safer passes. Or he’ll just go one-on-one with his defender.
For my part, when it comes to Danilo Gallinari, I’ve been a very willing passer. I’m aware of what he can do offensively, and when I see that he’s open, I’m getting him the ball as soon as I can. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t make the most of my nifty passes. There have been a couple of games where I should’ve beaten the single game assist record of 30 – 26 is my high so far – but when I’ve passed him the ball, Gallinari has simply bricked most of the wide open and other easy looks he’s been given, inside and outside the arc. It makes me wonder if he’s missing shots on purpose, in order to keep me from posting even bigger assist numbers. Just take a look at this video.
It may sound like a paranoid thought, but he seems to always knock down those shots when another teammate passes him the ball; even Justice Young. You wouldn’t think that he’d be willing to let his stats take a hit, or jeopardise the team’s chances of winning, just in order to spite me. Then again, we have had quite a few blowout victories during our big winning streak, no one hits all of their shots even when they’re wide open, and everyone is prone to having an off night. Who would notice if he intentionally missed a few shots here and there?
Because I pride myself on being a team player and a point guard who is always looking to set up his teammates for the best shots possible, it pains me to admit that I’ve started to hesitate before passing Gallo the ball. There have been games where, after he’s missed several open looks, I’ve muttered to myself “Well, no more passes for you.” I’ve yet to follow through on it though, mostly because I always want to hit the open man with a pass, but also because he’ll end up redeeming himself by knocking down a shot, or finishing an alley-oop with a dunk.
It reminds me of something similar that happened when I played for the Nuggets in my NBA 2K13 MyCAREER. I was in the midst of a breakout performance in the 2013 NBA Finals, starting in place of an injured Ty Lawson and piling up assists to go along with some 30-point games. I was actually a shooting guard, however, and halfway through the series Andre Miller was abruptly inserted into the starting lineup, moving me off the ball again. For whatever reason, he just didn’t want to pass me the ball, and I really had to work hard to get shots and assists from there on out. Funnily enough, Gallinari and I really clicked in that game, as he earned me a lot of assists.
Hopefully, we can improve upon our chemistry in NBA 2K17. Generally speaking, there isn’t any tension between us. After all, he’s one of the guys who’ll occasionally drop by MyCOURT to shoot around. I’ll take it in good faith that those missed shots are just a case of a good shooter being “too open”, and that playmaking just isn’t his forte. As they say, winning tends to smooth over everything, so as long we keep racking up Ws, everything else should sort itself out. I can keep aiming for record assist numbers, and Gallo can get plenty of touches to do what he does best.
Incidentally, just in case you’re concerned about my sanity, I’m well aware that virtual Danilo Gallinari isn’t actually sentient, and that it’s just a game (despite the hashtag). In reality, it’s just a frustrating coincidence with him. But you know what? It would be kind of cool if this was actually something we had to deal with in MyCAREER. It’d be an interesting wrinkle to have friction with a teammate that could see one of you end up traded. However, as far as NBA 2K17 is concerned, I’d have to say sorry, Gallo; the Nuggets are definitely going to keep squeezing that Orange Juice.