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 teams that rank among the most appealing to play with in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.
A new season is upon us! If you’ve been holding off on starting your main Franchise, MyLEAGUE, or MyGM game until opening night rosters are finalised, the time has come. Many of you probably have the perfect team in mind already, but if you’re like me, you may be mulling over a few possibilities. One of the most frustrating moments you can have in basketball gaming is to get about ten games into a franchise game, and realise that you don’t enjoy playing with the team you selected. That’s not too far in to start over, but it’s better to pick a suitable team the first time around if possible.
So, who to pick? I’m sure that the Golden State Warriors will be a popular choice once again, especially online. Their new starting lineup of five All-Stars – at least once DeMarcus Cousins is healthy again – will be quite a quintet to run with. They are a little cheap on the virtual hardwood though, and a stacked team isn’t to everyone’s liking when it comes to franchise modes. A few teams have shaken up their rosters and made big acquisitions this offseason, and while it remains to be seen how well they’ll fare in real life, they should be a lot of fun to guide to victory in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. Here are five teams to consider this year.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Let’s begin with a team that has been a fixture on lists like this for a few years now: the Philadelphia 76ers. Trusting the process seems to have finally paid off, as the Sixers won 50 games last season and made it to the second round of the Playoffs. The future seems bright, but as countless young teams that have peaked and quickly fallen off have demonstrated, the team from Philly needs to prove it wasn’t a fluke. They’ll certainly have a roster that is capable of going out and continuing to be a force in the East. With Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and a supporting cast that includes J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, and Wilson Chandler, they have a respectable talent pool.
In fact, if you wanted to reboot or perhaps reconfigure the process, you’ll have some viable trade options. With Simmons at the point, you may feel like dealing Markelle Fultz, and there should be enough adequately rated players to suit the needs of virtual GMs who like to wheel and deal. It is pretty much a ready-made squad however, so I’d suggest it’s a team for franchise gamers who’d prefer to make minor changes (if any). With Joel Embiid being the cover player of NBA Live 19, and Ben Simmons appearing on the Australian cover of NBA 2K19, the Philadelphia 76ers feel like a team worth checking out this year, especially if you’ve avoided them in the past.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
The Cleveland Cavaliers wouldn’t be a bad choice to go with this year. They still have Kevin Love, George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Tristan Thompson, and rookie Collin Sexton, so they could remain competitive in the East. Let’s face it, though. Most gamers are going to be more interested in following LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to being the team that boasts The King, the Lakers also have Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, and Brandon Ingram. That’s ample young talent, and proven vets, orbiting the NBA’s premier star.
It’s also a handful of combustible elements, and it feels like the Lakers are destined to either be a great success, or messily crash and burn. However it turns out, it should be quite the spectacle. On paper they certainly have the talent to make some noise, and when it comes to NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19, distractions and attitude problems needn’t be a factor. With so much buzz around the team, they’re simply too interesting to ignore, in real life or video games. You may feel like swapping a couple of the young guys for other up and coming talents, but I imagine most gamers (especially those who are also Lakers fans) will prefer to stick with the current roster.
3. Boston Celtics
How long will it be before we see a renewal of the Lakers vs Celtics rivalry? Golden State might have something to say about that in real life, but if we’re talking Franchise in NBA Live 19 or MyLEAGUE/MyGM in NBA 2K19, it could be as early as this season. The storied team from Beantown has steadily improved after bottoming out following the end of the Boston Three Party era, posting a better record in each of the past four seasons, and also making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the last two years running. They’ve drafted well, made shrewd acquisitions via free agency, and last year brought All-Star Kyrie Irving into the fold.
Yes, Danny Ainge has set up a fine team to assume control of in NBA Live 19 or NBA 2K19. There’s flexibility if you do want to tinker with the roster, but with LeBron James out of the picture, the East is wide open for the taking with the current squad. Philadelphia may pose some problems but with a core that includes Irving, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Smart, you should be up for the challenge. Staying healthy will obviously be a major factor in real life, and in NBA 2K19 as well. With NBA Live 19’s lack of in-game injuries, of course, that won’t be a concern for the virtual Celtics.
4. Houston Rockets
A perennial entry on the list of interesting teams in real life and video games, I have to include the Houston Rockets among my suggestions for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 as well. They still have their backcourt of James Harden and Chris Paul, and if not for an injury to CP3 in the Western Conference Finals last season, they may well be sporting rings now. The team that ousted them, the Warriors, went out and shored up their lineup with DeMarcus Cousins, but lost a couple of key contributors of their own. Houston’s big offseason move was to acquire Carmelo Anthony, who had the worst year of his career playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.
Many people are predicting the move will be a bust, or at best fail to move the needle for the Rockets. Melo’s game certainly hasn’t aged as well as his fellow Class of 2003 alum LeBron James’ has, but if he’s willing to sacrifice and can be fit into the Rockets’ powerful offense (second only to Golden State’s last season), it may work out better than expected. It’s the kind of experiment that can pan out very well in a video game though, where egos are easier to manage and execution comes down to stick skills. Houston’s depth will also facilitate a few trades if you don’t like their look, but as with the Lakers, you might just want to see if you can make the current lineup work.
5. Utah Jazz
No, I’m not just including the Utah Jazz on this list for the benefit of Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo! I do have to admit my mistake and atone for last year however, when I included them on a list of teams to rebuild in 2018’s franchise modes. With Hayward’s departure, I thought they might have peaked for now, and picked them to drop off last year. While they did win three fewer games than they did in 2017, they finished fifth in the West once again, and demonstrated that they’re still very capable of being competitive. Their roster looks very familiar this year, and while the West has gotten tougher – doesn’t it always – the Jazz are still a team worth checking out.
Rudy Gobert has developed into a beast in the middle, taking home Defensive Player of the Year honours last season. Donovan Mitchell made a strong case for Rookie of the Year, Joe Ingles set a team record for three-pointers made, and Ricky Rubio was solid in his first year with the club. Other familiar names of note include Dante Exum, Thabo Sefolosha, and Derrick Favors. New faces include Jae Crowder (acquired from Cleveland last year) and rookie Grayson Allen. Sure, you could still attempt a rebuild, but it isn’t necessary. They’re a challenging choice compared to some other teams, but you can still make them a force to be reckoned with.
What are some other teams that are appealing candidates to play with in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19? Do any of the teams that I mentioned appeal to you? 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.