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.
It took a while for the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad to click last year, but we had so much fun playing the mode that we definitely wanted to create a squad again this year. As we’ve mentioned on the Podcast, the NLSC THRILLHO – that’s an old Simpsons reference, for those of you who are unaware – hasn’t been winning quite as many games as we’d like. We’re still doing better than last year though, and despite occasionally grumbling about this and that in NBA 2K17 (such as the lack of logo importing before reaching Elite level), we keep jumping on every week to get a few games in. I think it’s safe to say that we’re still enjoying ourselves.
If you play 2K Pro-Am regularly, chances are you’ll encounter the same team more than once. Playing at the times we do, and especially given our location, there are times when we’ll face the same squad two or three times in a single session. This leads to some fun rivalries, not to mention becoming very familiar with certain players. Of course, even if you’re facing a host of different opponents, you’ll certainly run into the same types of players quite often. For your consideration, here is a breakdown of five of the players you’re likely to encounter in 2K Pro-Am.
1. The MyPARK Cheeser
Just to be clear, I have nothing against MyPARK, or the gamers who prefer it. I’m all for playing the game mode you enjoy the most, and letting other people do the same. I’ve played a few games in MyPARK and they were fun enough, but 2K Pro-Am is definitely more my speed. Needless to say, there are some people going back and forth between the modes. That’s fine, but it does lead to some overlapping tactics. Certain styles of play are definitely more appropriate for the casual, streetball approach of MyPARK, and it’s annoying when they show up in 2K Pro-Am. What’s even more annoying is the fact that they can often be effective.
The two most annoying habits of MyPARK Cheesers are the good old zigzag exploit, and running around and around in circles. These tactics really shouldn’t be as effective as they are, since dribble fatigue and the sprint meter in general are supposed to prevent their abuse. Combine that with the cherry-pickers and players who have the Limitless Range Badge, and you can find yourself in games that aren’t nearly as sim as I believe 2K Pro-Am is trying to be. Again, there’s nothing wrong with switching it up and trying different game modes, and if a tactic works then people are understandably going to use it, but it’s definitely a clash of styles and philosophies.
2. The AI Teammate
Ah, this guy. Your AI teammate is going to alternate between being a pleasant surprise, and a colossal disappointment. I suppose it stands to reason that he’s so unreliable. The Overall Ratings of AI teammates were hidden in NBA 2K16, but in NBA 2K17, they’re openly listed as being 55 Overall. In other words, they’re the equivalent of a brand new MyPLAYER, or NBA scrub. I assume that last year’s AI players had similar ratings, though I would have to say that they are a bit more reliable this year…assuming you’re willing to help them out, and not expect too much of them, of course.
When luck is on your side, your AI teammate will defend competently, though he’s usually a bit lazy when it comes to rotating and protecting the rim. Sometimes, you’ll get an AI player who can knock down open threes; when that happens, you’ll actually want to pass to them when your opponent leaves them wide open. Other times they’ll be frustratingly useless, refusing to make quick and elusive moves, taking their time and wasting a wide open look by letting the defense catch up, or playing defense like a sieve. They’re pretty adept at playing the passing lanes, though. If your opponent has an AI player or two in the game, be careful with your passes!
3. The Walk-On Player
I’ve only played one Walk-On game in NBA 2K17 which was with Arcane and Kenny, when we couldn’t get a match-up with the NLSC THRILLHO. It wasn’t too bad, except for the fact the result didn’t count for me due to an error, and thus I was robbed of the PlayStation Trophy. If I were more of a completionist, it’d bother me even more, because I’m not sure I want to play another Walk-On game. While the game we played was alright, we certainly saw snippets of how bad those games can be. You’ll often see an ugly, ugly brand of basketball, thanks in no small part to the general approach of Walk-On regulars.
One of the really fun things about 2K Pro-Am is that if you play great team basketball, you’ll find yourself having more success. Even if you don’t win, you’ll generally be in with a chance. Walk-On games tend to have a lot more ball-hogging; so many bad shots and hero ball, so very few passes each possession. Players who play that way tend to stick to Walk-On games, but occasionally you’ll encounter them in squad games as well. They’re real team killers, which is good news for their opponents, but obviously a real problem for their teammates. So, yeah, if you want to have success in 2K Pro-Am, and not be a terrible teammate, don’t be this player!
4. The 2K Pro-Am Min-Maxer
These are the players that have been optimised for online play. From their body type to their ratings to their animations, they’ve been carefully crafted to be as powerful as possible. They’re probably beasts in MyCAREER too – if indeed they play the mode – but they’re really built to take advantage of online opponents, who may not have min-maxed their players, and don’t have the same reflexes as AI-controlled players, especially when you factor in lag. They’re the 7’3″ centres, and players with Tyrannosaurus Rex arms in order to maximise their shooting ratings. If they grind enough for some Badges on top of that, they’re absolutely deadly.
I suppose in all fairness, there’s nothing really wrong with this approach, though it can be a bit cheap, and there’s often some crossover with the MyPARK Cheeser as well. MyPLAYER Archetypes were meant to balance things out and cut down on exploits here, but it’s debatable as to how successful that change has been. I also feel quite confident in saying that they’re the players that are the least likely to use real face scans, and the most likely to be modelled after and given real players’ names. All I’m saying is that I have my doubts that LeBron James is playing a lot of 2K Pro-Am, and on the Australian server to boot.
5. The MyCAREER Player
Basically, this is pretty much the opposite of the aforementioned Min-Maxer. While the MyCAREER Player may be optimised for the best possible performance, it’s been done with MyCAREER in mind, with perhaps only a few choices that were made to suit 2K Pro-Am play. These players are more likely to use real face scans (or sculpted faces based on the actual user), may or may not make use of the most effective animations (depending on how realistic a depiction it’s meant to be), and might even have similar measurements to the user as well. It’s not that they’re unsuited to 2K Pro-Am necessarily; they’re just not specifically optimised for online play.
The upside here is that it’s an honest and relatively cheddar-free approach. The downside, of course, is that it’s an honest and relatively cheddar-free approach. Beyond any individual disadvantages with the choice of Archetype, animations, and so forth, it can also lead to some unbalanced and oddly put together lineups for 2K Pro-Am squads. If you’ve built your player for MyCAREER, you might find there’s overlap when you squad up with other players with similar builds. That’ll likely leave your squad with some deficiencies, though if you’re lucky, it can alternatively result in a Golden State Warriors-like “Death Lineup” that works to your advantage.
Do you fall into any of these categories? What other types of players have you encountered in 2K Pro-Am? Join in the conversation in the comments section below, as well as in the NLSC Forum! We’ll be posting videos, screenshots, and other updates on NLSC THRILLHO in this thread, so be sure to check it out. In the meantime, 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.