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. This week’s Five is a list of five retro teams that you can create in NBA 2K20, using assets that are already available.
One of my ongoing series here in the Friday Five suggests retro teams that I’d like to see included in future NBA 2K games. The more historical content we have in the game, the less we have to create for retro modding projects, and the more we have to play with out of the box. Of course, the amount of content that’s already in the game provides us with a good starting point for several retro projects, including adding or replacing the existing classic teams. With that in mind, I’ve got five suggestions for teams that are quite feasible to create – or get a head start on creating – in NBA 2K20.
Whether you simply reuse their assets or borrow players from their existing All-Time and retro teams is up to you, and depends on what kind of project you’re making. If it’s a roster that you intend to share publically, you might not want to spoil any of the existing squads’ lineups. Note that I’ve picked teams that already have the appropriate courts, logos, and jerseys in NBA 2K20, with the assumption that you’ll either reuse those assets, or overwrite the existing retro teams. For this list, I’ve also avoided simply rolling a team backwards or forwards a season, though there are plenty of ideas to explore there as well. Without any further ado, let’s get to the suggestions!
1. 1994 Golden State Warriors
The 1994 Warriors are just one of the many retro teams that I’d like to see added in future games, but in the meantime, they can be created in NBA 2K20. Their court and jerseys are already in the game thanks to the 1991 Warriors, saving time on creating those assets. They also have six players in the default rosters: Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell, Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, Avery Johnson, and Jud Buechler. Note that Tim Hardaway missed the entire 1994 season, but was still on the roster that year. As such, Avery Johnson is the player that you want starting at the point. C-Webb also started at centre in his rookie season, so be sure that you make that adjustment.
Those six players provide a solid base to get you started. As for the missing players that you need to create, I’d recommend prioritising Chris Gatling, Billy Owens, and Victor Alexander, as they also saw significant time as starters and key reserves. If you’re going for accuracy and keeping Hardaway out of the lineup, you might also want to create Keith Jennings. The 1994 season is an interesting one due to Michael Jordan’s abrupt retirement, and it features a few short-lived squads that are often overlooked. That certainly describes the team Chris Webber spent his rookie season with, so until they’re officially added to the game, they’re a potential modding idea.
2. 2001 Seattle SuperSonics
Speaking of interesting short-lived teams – which tend to be the most appealing ideas for retro teams once the champions and perennial contenders are accounted for – how about the 2001 Seattle SuperSonics? They featured Knicks Legend Patrick Ewing in his first NBA stint outside of New York, along with Sonics great Gary Payton and four-time All-Star Vin Baker. Had that trio come together a few years earlier, they might be considered a Big Three. However, like a lot of lineups from that era that featured a handful of big names, it was the result of stars moving on later in their careers, rather than superstars in their prime joining forces to create super teams.
That 2001 Sonics team also featured a couple of promising young players in Rashard Lewis and Desmond Mason, as well as journeyman Brent Barry, David Wingate, and Pervis Ellison. Of those players, Barry, Lewis, and Wingate are available by default, leaving some work to be done to complete their lineup. Ewing, Payton, Baker, Barry, and Lewis can be a makeshift staring five to get the ball rolling however, and some of the other players’ faces are in the files due to their inclusion in MyTEAM. The 2001 Sonics can replace their 1996 counterparts in the roster, or at the very least make use of their court, jerseys, and logo to cut down on the amount of artwork needed.
3. 2009 Phoenix Suns
Being a slightly more recent squad with several players who are included on other retro teams in NBA 2K20 – or indeed, still active as of 2020 – the 2009 Phoenix Suns are quite easy to create. Their branding is in the game courtesy of both the 2003 and 2005 Suns teams, though you may understandably be hesitant to overwrite either of them (particularly the 2005 squad). If you’re after a change of pace though, or plan on overwriting another team and just making use of their assets, the 2009 Suns are a fun option. They’re loaded with talent – though not everyone is in their prime, of course – and in real life, likely would’ve fared a lot better in a weaker Western Conference.
There are a total of ten players from the 2009 Suns already in the game, which is about how many players there are on most of the original retro teams; usually more, in most cases. Not only that, those ten players make up the actual core rotation: Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Leandro Barbosa, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, and Robin Lopez. Aside from the necessary adjustments to their ages, ratings, and other bio data for complete accuracy, they’re more or less ready to play with immediately. There aren’t any teams from 2009 in NBA 2K20, and if you’d like to remedy that, this one is quite feasible to create.
4. 2003 Washington Wizards
It seems highly unlikely that we’ll ever see Michael Jordan’s stint with the Washington Wizards officially represented in NBA 2K. Fortunately, with the players included for the retro teams in NBA 2K20, it’s possible to create his squad from 2003! The 2007 Wizards provide the base with the same logo, court, and jerseys, as well as a few of his teammates. Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas are already in place, and there are plenty of copies of Michael Jordan to choose from; obviously, you’ll want to use one of the older versions rather than his younger face! You’ll also want to switch him to small forward, rather than his traditional spot at shooting guard.
That’s because Jerry Stackhouse started at shooting guard for that Wizards team, with Larry Hughes playing point guard. Both are available in NBA 2K20, as are Tyronn Lue, Charles Oakley, Christian Laettner, Byron Russell, and Jared Jeffries. That’s ten players from the 2003 Wizards to get you started; eleven if you want to include Brian Cardinal, who was on the opening night roster but cut after playing just five games. I know we’re supposed to ignore MJ’s Wizards years, but I am oddly nostalgic for them. Once again, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see Wizards MJ in an official capacity, so this team is a fun one to create in any kind of expanded classic teams roster mod.
5. 1995 San Antonio Spurs
If you’re looking to change things up and replace the 1998 San Antonio Spurs in NBA 2K20, there are a couple of ways you could go. It’s possible to make the 1999 squad – the first championship team in club history – but you can also roll it back a few years to the 1995 season. That was the second year of Dennis Rodman’s brief but still very memorable tenure with the team. It’s arguably a more interesting team than the one from 1998 – Tim Duncan’s rookie year – and also one in which David Robinson was still in his prime. Alternatively, you could opt for the 1994 Spurs, but then you lose Sean Elliott and a couple of other players that are already available in NBA 2K20.
In addition to the aforementioned Robinson and Elliott, Avery Johnson, Vinny Del Negro, and Chuck Person are already on the 1998 Spurs. Rodman is in the game with his colourful hair – don’t use the Pistons version, obviously – and Terry Cummings, Moses Malone, and Doc Rivers are also on hand. Howard Eisley is also in the game, though similar to Brian Cardinal and the 2003 Wizards, he was cut before the end of the season. That makes either nine or ten players right out of the gate, to go along with era-appropriate team branding. The 1995 Spurs are yet another team that I’ve suggested for inclusion by default, but in the meantime, we can create them!
With all the historical content in NBA 2K20, there are plenty more retro teams that we can create and get a good head start on with the assets on hand. I’ll have more suggestions in future articles, but for now, what are some others that you’ve noted as being feasible to create? Which other retro teams would you like to see in the game by default? Have your say in the comments section 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.