2016–17 NBA Season Preview: 2K Style

It’s 2k time!

It’s that time of year again! The annual release of 2K Sports’ basketball simulation video game, aka 2K Day, is looked forward to by gamers and hoopers alike as its release also signals that the NBA season is just around the corner.

This year’s edition of the game is better than ever, with its hyper-realistic gameplay and robust MyCareer, MyTeam, and MyLeague modes. After getting my copy of the game, I played a few games of Play Now. I wiped out worlds as the Warriors and wrought defeat as the Heat. After getting buckets in college for Michigan State in MyCareer, I was drafted 10th by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, that is not what we are here to talk about today.

After playing around with the game for a while, a question formed in my mind: What would happen if I simulated the entire 2016–17 season on 2K? What better way to preview this season than to let a (virtual) version of the NBA season play out on the most complex basketball simulation video game ever created?

Using the MyLeague mode, I chose the season feature, which lets you pick your favorite team (or teams) and play out a single season. I set all of the settings possible to auto, meaning that the game had permission to do anything it wanted (within the actual rules of the NBA). You’ll notice in the screenshots that my user-controlled team was the Miami Heat, but that was only because the game makes you choose at least one team to “control,” but I didn’t do anything myself, I let the entire season and postseason play out entirely on its own.

So, without further ado, let the simulation begin!

Conference Standings


  1. Golden State Warriors 56–26
  2. San Antonio Spurs 55–27
  3. Portland Trail Blazers 52–30
  4. Houston Rockets 51–31
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder 51–31
  6. Los Angeles Clippers 46–36
  7. Memphis Grizzlies 45–37
  8. Utah Jazz 44–38
  9. New Orleans Pelicans 44–38
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves 40–42
  11. Dallas Mavericks 38–44
  12. Denver Nuggets 34–48
  13. Sacramento Kings 31–51
  14. Phoenix Suns 26–56
  15. Los Angeles Lakers 26–56


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers 60–22
  2. Toronto Raptors 47–35
  3. Chicago Bulls 47–35
  4. Atlanta Hawks 44–38
  5. Orlando Magic 43–39
  6. Detroit Pistons 42–20
  7. Boston Celtics 42–40
  8. Indiana Pacers 39–43
  9. Philadelphia 76ers 39–43
  10. New York Knicks 34–48
  11. Charlotte Hornets 33–49
  12. Miami Heat 32–50
  13. Milwaukee Bucks 32–50
  14. Washington Wizards 30–52
  15. Brooklyn Nets 27–55

There wasn’t too many huge surprises in the conference standings, but a minor shock was that the Warriors only won 56 games despite still taking the number 1 seed in the west. In my simulation, Steph Curry broke his ankle only played 47 games, contributing to the Warriors decrease in wins.

Also, check out the 76ers! 39 wins! Narrowly missing the playoffs only because of a tie-breaker! Sixers fans would be overjoyed if the young core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and co. is able to propel Philly to that number of wins already this season after such a long period of being the league’s doormat.

New York fans won’t be excited to see their beloved Knickerbockers out of the playoff picture yet again even after trading for and signing the core of the 2011 Bulls, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, this offseason. Unfortunately for the Knicks, it’s not 2011, and Rose and Noah obviously didn’t find the fountain of youth in this simulation.


Most Valuable Player — Russell Westbrook

On this one, 2k17 obviously is taking into account Russ’s anger that Kevin Durant left him alone in OKC. Westbrook started all 82 games, averaged 27.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 12.0 (!) assists, and 3.2 steals while leading the depleted Thunder to 51 wins. Westbrook had 34 triple doubles! In real life, last year Westbrook tied Magic Johnson’s record for triple doubles in a season since the NBA-ABA merger. With 18. Heck, he was .7 rebounds per game away from averaging a triple double, something that hasn’t been done since Oscar Robertson. Something tells me these stats might not just be a case of “video game numbers.” I agree with the game, Russ is in for a big year.

Rookie of the Year — Ben Simmons

In this simulation, Simmons averaged 11.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assists and led the Sixers to a shockingly decent 39 wins. I don’t think Philly will have that much team success (this year anyway), but I totally see these numbers as doable for Simmons in his rookie season.

Sixth Man of the Year — Brandon Knight

Not much to say about this one. Yeah, Brandon Knight, 17.3 points off the bench for a bad Suns team, cool.

Defensive Player of the Year — LeBron James

LeBron finally takes home the one award that he still covets in his quest to prove he is the best all-around player of all-time. He didn’t put up particularly crazy defensive stats in this sim, but his 2.5 steals, 2 blocks, and 9.6 rebounds per game, along with some presumably great, lockdown on-ball defense won him this award in the eyes of the virtual voters.

Most Improved Player — D’Angelo Russell

Russell upped his scoring average to 20 ppg and averaged 6 assists per game, but the Lakers still tied for the worst record in the league. That’s why it is called most improved player, not most improved team.

Coach of the Year — Tyronn Lue

Coach Lue backs his title up from last year with a league-leading 60 wins, earning him coach of the year in this simulation.

All-NBA Team

MVP Russell Westbrook headlines the All-NBA 1st Team

Random Happenings

It seems like every time I play a season mode in a 2k game, there are always some wacky trades that go down. Whether it’s the swapping of Superstar players out of the blue, or one team trading an up-and-coming young player for not much in return for seemingly no reason, 2k games seemed to always have a problem with trade logic.

In this sim, however, the trade deadline was just as boring as it usually is in real life, as the biggest trade was a swap of Ricky Rubio and Ryan Anderson between Minnesota and Houston. Compelling stuff.

Fired coaches include: Hornets’ coach Steve Clifford, the Wizards’ Scott Brooks, and Kings’ Dave Joeger.

That’s right, even in 2k, the Kings fire coaches before they even coach a full season, as Joeger was let go at the beginning of March.


Here’s how 2k’s 2016–17 NBA Playoffs turned out:

That’s right, the Warriors and Cavs duking it out in the finals for the third year in a row. Of course it would happen.

And, there you have it, in a totally unexpected outcome, the Warriors are your 2017 NBA Champions! (well, behind the arc NBA 2k17 season simulation NBA Champions anyway, but still)

Thanks as always for reading!
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