The Future As Told By NBA 2K17, Part I

With the NBA All-Star Break upon us, there is no *real* basketball until next Thursday. Let’s lean in on that idea, and take a look at the present and future of the league through the lens of NBA 2K17, the best NBA video game out there right now.

There are lots of fun ways to play 2K (My Career, My Team, or just playing online), but one of the most fun ways to play is simply to pick a team and let the computers-that-be simulate the season (or seasons). So that’s what I did. Setting all the franchise tasks (scouting, trading, drafting etc.) to auto, I simply started the 2017 season and began simulating. And I didn’t stop simulating until there were no longer any current NBA players left in the league. Here’s how this one version of the NBA 2K future played out.

Today we’ll look at the first three seasons.

2017

Normal Things

  • The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors finished the season as the top team in their respective conferences.
  • The 1st-team All-NBA squad: Steph Curry, James Harder, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Boogie Cousins.
  • Harden led the league in scoring, tossing up 31/7/6 (points/rebounds/assists per game).
  • The 76ers landed the first overall pick in the draft yet again.
  • The Knicks managed to hand out a five-year extension to Derrick Rose. Even in the simulated world of NBA 2K, everyone knows how stupid the Knicks are.

Weird Things

  • Tyreke Evans made his first All-Star Game.
  • The Rockets, despite Harden’s efforts, finished with the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
  • This happened:
Lol
  • And also this happened:
Hahahahahahahahahaha

I don’t know which is less likely.

  • Sergio Rodriguez finished second in the league with 9.8 assists per game.
  • The Phoenix Suns were the fifth seed in the West.

MVP

Steph Curry: 26/5/7/2 (points/rebounds/assists/steals)

Playoff Bracket

Much less surprising

Yup, Warriors over Cavs in the Finals, that seems about right. Biggest surprises were how high the Bulls were (explaining the whole Fred Hoiberg thing) and the aforementioned Suns.

Hall of Famers

Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce

(Major) Offseason Player Movement

  • Kevin Durant to the Sacramento Kings!
  • Paul Millsap to the Bulls
  • Serge Ibaka to the Atlanta Hawks

2018

Normal Things

  • The Greek Freak made his first appearance on a 1st-team All-NBA squad. His rating is up to a 95.
  • KD made the Kings the number three seed in the West.
  • The Toronto Raptors signed Bruno Cabolco to a two-year deal. He’s still two years away.
  • The Nets are still the most depressing team in the NBA.
  • Dragan Bender made the leap in his sophomore season, winning Most Improved Player. His averages: 13/9/2/1/2 (pts/rebs/asts/steals/blocks)
  • Justin Anderson is your second-best player in 2018, Dallas Mavericks fans…

Weird Things

  • Chris Bosh still schooling kids out on the court :(
  • The Bulls ran away with the East.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies crashed and burned, landing the first overall pick in the draft thanks to the worst record in the league.
  • Nikola Vucevic made 1st-team All NBA.
  • Brandon Ingram made 2nd-team All Defense.
  • Caris LeVert one-upped his fellow draftee and went 1st-team All Defense, while averaging 12/6/6
  • Cody Zeller (87) became the highest-rated player on the Charlotte Hornets by five points. (Yes, they still have Kemba Walker.)
  • The Knicks make the playoffs.

MVP

James Harden: 32/6/6

Playoff Bracket

Ah, yes. The Detroit Pistons-Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Finals matchup we all saw coming in 2018. Also, apparently the game doesn’t realize that the Warriors did pretty well without Durant last year, having them drop to the seven seed after KD abandoned them.

Hall of Famers

Dirk Nowitzki

(Major) Offseason Player Movement

  • Isaiah Thomas to the Nets
  • Gordon Hayward to the Orlando Magic
  • Rajon Rondo to the Warriors (yeah, that will solve their 2018 issues)

2019

Normal Things

  • LeBron James is still inhuman, averaging 23/8/7 and making his 15th All-Star Game (in 15 tries).
  • Nikola Jokic made his second straight All-Star Game, and ends the season with a 1st-team All-NBA selection.
  • The 76ers rise happened right before our eyes, as they snagged the five seed in the East.
  • Quinn Snyder won Coach of the Year. That’s something I could definitely see happening sooner than later.
  • Ben Simmons’ rating is up to a 93. But he still has a “C” for his outside shot.
  • The Knicks and Lakers landed the one and two spots in the NBA Draft. Can you say “frozen envelopes”?

Weird Things

  • We live in a world where Tomas Satorasnky will be worth a first-round pick in 2019.
  • The Nets made the playoffs?!
  • The Washington Wizards have just completely fallen apart, missing the playoffs all three simulated seasons and landing in the top five in the lottery each of those years.
  • Gregg Popovich retired after the season :(

MVP

Russell Westbrook: 24/8/9/2

Playoff Bracket

We’re starting to get wacky, folks. By the way, Marcus Smart won the Finals MVP — someone go check Bill Simmons’ pants.

Hall of Famers

Pau Gasol and Tony Parker

(Major) Offseason Player Movement

  • John Wall to the Pistons
  • Kemba Walker to the Hawks
  • Carmelo Anthony to the San Antonio Spurs (!)
  • Dwight Howard to the Suns
  • Dwyane Wade to the Warriors (!)
  • Paul Millsap to the Miami Heat
  • Nikola Jokic to the Rockets
  • Eric Bledsoe to the Nets
  • Nikola Vucevic to the Hornets.

And with all that crazy player movement, we’ll put a wrap on Part I of this series. We’ll be back early next week to see how the final 17 years play out (at a much faster rate).

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