Monday Tip-Off: The Joy of Dunking Once Again

Dunking on Lonzo Ball (NBA 2K19 MyCAREER)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few reflections on how fun it is to be dunking once again in MyCAREER.

It’s funny how things work out. A few months ago, I mentioned that I was burned out on career modes and looking to take a break. While I have indeed set up a game in MyLEAGUE with the Chicago Bulls, I have actually found myself primarily playing MyCAREER so far in NBA 2K19. The experience has been a lot better than in NBA 2K18, from the story to the gameplay. I’ve also been determined to grind my Badges and increase my ratings without paying for any Virtual Currency, so that when we finally get to play some squad games of 2K Pro-Am in the new year, I’ll be ready.

Something that’s made MyCAREER a lot more enjoyable in NBA 2K19 is that I’m actually dunking again. I’ve ended up going with the same Archetype as last year – Sharpshooting Playmaker – and while inside scoring obviously isn’t the forte of that build, my dunking rating is high enough to throw down a few slams every now and again. It seemed that should’ve been the case in NBA 2K18 as well, but as I noted around this time last year, I was left with a serious case of dunk envy. I’m pleased to report that the issue seems to have been resolved this year, which has made racking up points a much more fun and diverse experience.

To follow up on last year’s article, I did receive a response from 2K Support. Rather predictably, they were absolutely no help at all, basically shrugging their shoulders and telling me that nothing could be done. As far as they were concerned, everything was working fine despite the broken tendencies, which I confirmed by creating a new player with the same build. Now, I do want to focus on my enjoyment of NBA 2K19 here, but at the same time, I want to publicly register my disgust with 2K Support. They’re very unhelpful, make users jump through hoops to solve problems, and quite often don’t seem to know what they’re doing. We deserve much better than that.

Dunking on LeBron James & Lonzo Ball (NBA 2K19 MyCAREER)

With that being said, fortunately it seems there’s no issues with non-Slashing point guards being unable to dunk in NBA 2K19. Also, since I’m staying the course as far as not buying any VC, happily I don’t have to deal with 2K Support. I mean, there has been a couple of times when I didn’t get VC when I should’ve and a Playground win that didn’t count, but it’s not worth raising those issues with 2K’s incompetent and uncaring support staff. No, I’m just enjoying the fact that the issues with dunking tendencies last year have since been resolved by the development team, and that I can actually throw down some basic slams with my Sharpshooting Playmaker.

You may ask why I created a Sharpshooting Playmaker if I was interested in dunking, especially since a Slashing hybrid would be an obvious solution if that’s how I wanted to play. Fair question! While I do miss the variety of fancy dunks that I was able to assign to my Playmaker in NBA 2K17, I’m willing to forego showy slams for a better outside scoring punch. It’s a better fit with the rest of the NLSC squad, and since I like to rack up assists in both online and offline play, I knew that it would benefit my style of play to be a Playmaker hybrid. In short, I wanted to be able to score from the outside and hit teammates with accurate passes, but also dunk once in a while.

Why do I want my player to be capable of dunking if I’m primarily a three-point shooter? Because it’s fun! Look, I know that today’s NBA is all about gunning it from range, and that’s why I knew it would benefit me and our squad to have the abilities of a Sharpshooter blended with those of a Playmaker. At the same time, being able to throw down dunks at will is one of the appealing aspects of MyCAREER and its connected experiences. I can appreciate the efficiency and strategic aspect of the three-point game in the modern NBA, but I still find a big dunk a lot more exciting. It also remains the highest percentage shot in the sport, as you’re right at the basket.

Dunking in MyCAREER (NBA 2K19)

In addition to tweaking the dunking tendencies, it seems that the developers also made a few sensible adjustments to the dunk package requirements in NBA 2K19. Last year I was able to unlock certain packages with lower dunking ratings, but was rarely able to make use of them outside MyCOURT and shooting around in the Pro-Am arena. In NBA 2K19, even though I don’t have tremendous dunking ratings (Standing Dunk of 40, Driving Dunk of 58, and Contact Dunk of 52), they’re sufficient to equip some of the basic dunk packages. I’m quite satisfied with that, as it’s allowed me to finish with a slam in the open court and in traffic alike, even getting a few poster dunks.

That’s perfectly acceptable for my Archetype. In fact, I’m actually surprised how often I’ve been able to throw it down as I’ve kept increasing my ratings all the way up to the current cap. I’ve had games where I’ve been able to dunk at least four or five times, an unthinkable prospect when playing with the same Archetype in NBA 2K18. My cap maxes out at eight for Dunks, so if I continue to grind up and unlock those additional attributes, I might be able to add a few of the fancier dunk packages as well. For the moment though, simply being able to finish a few more drives with authority and feel the satisfaction of performing some highlight plays is still a blast.

Although I’m definitely still an advocate for the sim style and for basketball games to strive for realism, dunking – especially in the career modes – is an area where I do feel there’s room to be flexible. While they’ve long been an exciting part of the highlight reels, dunks don’t make up a majority of the field goals scored in the NBA, even long before the three-point revolution. LeBron James’ dunks are understandably featured in daily highlight packages, but so far they only account for around eight percent of his baskets this year. That percentage is going to be a lot higher in video games, and that’s OK. It’s also fine if your MyPLAYER dunks a little more often than is realistic, too.

Dunking in MyCAREER (NBA 2K19)

Locking the more creative dunk packages behind higher dunking ratings is a much better compromise than nerfing dunking tendencies. Considering some of the other unrealistic elements of MyCAREER, such as the prices of items, how quickly you can develop into a star, and certain aspects of the back story, and it seems silly to draw the line at the frequency of dunks. Of course, it is completely fair that I can’t always put opponents on a poster or impersonate Vince Carter; after all, that isn’t my Archetype. As I said, I am able to get up for a few more slams on the fast break and in traffic, and I’ve been enjoying doing that in between potting threes and racking up assists.

Something that’s helped a lot is being able to unlock the Under the Basket package after increasing my Standing Dunk attribute to 40. Ironically, it feels as though it’s expanded the zone in which I can trigger dunks, seeing as how before I equipped it, I often performed layups in situations where a dunk certainly should’ve been feasible. It seems that the only place I can’t always dunk on cue is in the team practice facility, as I’ll often still perform layups when freely shooting around. However, I believe that’s a result of my teammates shooting around. If no other shots are coming at the basket, I can usually dunk with ease in practice. Again, I couldn’t do that in NBA 2K18.

It just goes to show how a few simple changes can make or break our experiences on the virtual hardwood. There’s still a bit of a mixed reception to NBA 2K19 so far, and not everyone is happy with some of the patches, but a common phrase I’m seeing is that it’s the game we should’ve received last year. While there are problems with that sentiment, I understand it and am inclined to agree as it pertains to NBA 2K19. A few key problems with last year’s game have been addressed, and for me, one of them was the inability to dunk in MyCAREER. It’s gone a long way in keeping me hooked on a mode that I swore I was done with back in August.

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