NBA 2K17 Is Going To Have a Warriors Problem
The NBA is currently in the middle of its free agency period, when players not under contract can negotiate and sign with any team they choose. And earlier this week, on America's "birthday," no less, the best free agent on the market this year announced a bombshell decision. Kevin Durant, formerly of the Oklahoma City Thunder, will be joining the Golden State Warriors (the 2015 NBA Champions, and the team that set the best regular-season record of all time, 73-9, last year).
The resulting tidal wave of reactions, as you would expect when one of the best players in the league joins arguably the best team, mostly revolved around the question "how is anyone going to beat these guys?" And as media personalities and regular fans alike tried to comprehend just how good this team could be, a sudden realization set in...
This team's dominance will be two-fold: in the real-world NBA, and the digital one.
You see, NBA 2K17 is very much going to have a Warriors problem, because their roster is as close to "broken" as possible. And yesterday, fans, NBA players, and even sports media personalities all expressed the same sentiment: nobody wants to play against that team in 2K. Nothing demonstrates this better than the Twitter feed of Ronnie 2K, the popular spokesman for the NBA 2K series. He compared this new Warriors team to the Miami Heat under LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh:
Heat super team was used so much in 2K. Downright scary to see Warriors quick game numbers played online now... pic.twitter.com/N9ZbNhposf— Ronnie 2K 2K17 (@Ronnie2K) July 4, 2016
He also retweeted a Vine of ESPN's Bomani Jones on SportsCenter yesterday, who agreed that this team won't be fair in next year's game:
You can't play with that team on 2K... -Bonami Jones on Kevin Durant to Warriors https://t.co/uRFMCDG0MW— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) July 4, 2016
And finally, Detroit Pistons superstar center Andre Drummond insisted that using this new Warriors team against him would end friendships immediately:
Also Leave your best friend card on the table as well cause this friendship is over..............😁😂😅😅😂😂😅😅😅 pic.twitter.com/ptt6uSnJpf— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummondd) July 4, 2016
To be sure, the Golden State Warriors next year will be extremely frustrating to face in a game against friends. In offline matchups, it's easy to just place them "off-limits" and pick other teams in good faith. But what about online play, one of the biggest factors behind the game's longevity, and perhaps its most popular mode amongst many of its players? What can stop strangers from picking a clearly OP team and decimating the competition without mercy?
NBA 2K16, as it turns out, set something of a precedent in this regard. In the head-to-head Play Now Online mode, teams were placed into tiers. Wins, naturally, contributed towards reaching new league seeds and better, more experienced competition. In an interesting twist, however, players were given bigger rewards for winning with teams of a lower tier than their opponent. In other words, it created a system that rewarded players for challenging themselves, which in turn encouraged them to pick teams other than the two or three best at the time. You can watch the full reveal above, but the most important point is those tiers, as you can see below:
Of course, the Warriors are already a Tier 1 team. So are the Cleveland Cavaliers, this year's champions. But with the acquisition of Durant, I'm not sure a system like this will be good enough to stop people from picking Golden State anyway. I think the system of tiers is a good start, but it might need some tweaks to better reflect just how overwhelmingly powerful that team could be in the right hands.
So, how about this: why not put Golden State -- and maybe Cleveland, while we're at it -- in a tier of their own? After all, some sports journalists are already conceding that next year's championship will come down to those two teams (assuming they remain healthy). So why not reward players handsomely for defeating those teams with inferior squads, while at the same time limiting just how rewarding those teams are to use?
I don't think that Golden State should be so unrewarding to choose that nobody does, but at the moment it definitely seems as if some major safeguards need to be in place so that online play doesn't just turn into a Warriors onslaught day after day. An environment like that could really anger the community and damage the quality of online play as a whole.
And of course true Warriors fans shouldn't be unjustly punished for how good their new team is, even if it feels like this video by Bleacher Report:
Playing with the Warriors in 2K17 gonna be like…https://t.co/XtLqs76NX7— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 5, 2016
But placing the Warriors in their own tier, along with the Cavaliers if need be, might create the perfect balance between "fun" and "balanced."
Players who don't worry about league seeding can use the Warriors as they please but won't flood the highest levels of play, while aspiring 2K stars have a reason to pick other teams and embrace the challenge. Because the most important thing to remember is that even if the real NBA season turns into a year-long Warriors coronation, there's no reason why NBA 2K17 has to, as well.