NBA 2K17 is a game that is somehow enjoyable despite its gameplay flaws. How can that be possible, you ask? The game has addicting modes, what can I say?
Lately, I've become addicted not to MyTeam or MyCareer, but MyLeague's Start Today sub-mode, which does exactly what the tin reads.
You start on the real-life NBA season's current real-world date, whether it's with the Golden State Warriors as you somehow try to finish the season strong and maybe break the record again, or with the New York Knicks and appease parts of your fanbase by trading Carmelo Anthony, which yeah, good luck getting a solid return with NBA 2K17's trade finder on that one.
But either way, today we're here look at five teams you may want to consider taking over on the current date in NBA 2K17. In addition, I'll also walk you through some quick fixes that range from blockbuster trades to in-season free agency moves.
Best Player: Russell Westbrook, G (95)
Needs: RETAINING RUSSELL WESTBROOK IN TWO YEARS AND KEEPING HIM HAPPY; a small forward; cleaning out the excess of big men.
Who needs Kevin Durant when you have Russell Westbrook and his triple-double statline? Can you keep it alive while also fixing the problems plaguing OKC's current roster?
Picking a "powerhouse" like the Thunder, who have arguably the league's best player in Russell Westbrook -- and trust me, Russ has more of an argument as league's best player than Stephen Curry ever did -- may seem like an odd choice to start this list. However, the allure of continuing Russell Westbrook's triple-double statline and making sure he can finish the season with double-digit averages in points, rebounds and assists per game should be enough to make you want to control the 'Zombie Sonics'.
Also, this team isn't really a powerhouse when you take Westbrook out of things. Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter and Andre Roberson are all nice pieces that you can build around as a core, but none of them have the true firepower of Russell Westbrook.
Taking control of them in a tighter-than-expected Western Conference is a challenge, but with Westbrook and a quick fix (below), it's certainly doable.
Quick Fix: Trade Domantos Sabonis (72) to the Chicago Bulls for Nikola Mirotic (76) and a 2017 top-10 protected first-round pick.
The Thunder do have assets like Andre Roberson and Cameron Payne that they could go for a decent enough return (trading Roberson and Enes Kanter to Miami will net you Tyler Johnson and Josh McRoberts), but they're not the trades OKC needs right now.
And as boring as this may sound, the best thing you can do with the Thunder in year one is play it safe. I like the Mirotic move best because you get him and a first-rounder from it, but other than that? I would say wait until free agency, try to land Rudy Gay or Tyreke Evans -- or, bring back Kevin Durant -- and just play it safe.
Besides, Westbrook can do it all on his own. That's exactly what he's doing right now, isn't he?
Best Player: John Wall, G (89)
Needs: True sixth man; forwards; a big man of the future.
On the borderline of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Wizards can either start prepping for 2017 with trades or make a run to the playoffs. But really, why not do both?
You may be surprised to think that of all the teams on this list, I think Washington is the most balanced in terms of play style, depth and how you can approach the season's final weeks. At 16-18, and with numerous trade assets like Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter, Ian Mahinimi and more, you can blow up the Wizards' roster entirely and try stockpiling on draft picks for John Wall... who you can also try trading.
However, I advise players not to blow up the roster by trading the team's best player. Why? Because you will not get the "insane" package you're looking for. It's just not out there right now.
So if blowing up the roster isn't your style, then do your best to take Wall and friends to the playoffs. Otto Porter is enjoying a breakout year, Bradley Beal is on pace to set career-highs in both offensive and defensive rating and win shares, and the only real glaring hole on paper is the Wizards' sixth man, a problem that can easily be fixed in free agency by grabbing someone like Lance Stephenson or Jarrett Jack.
And while Wall may not have the scoring prowess of Westbrook or the video game-like skills of Stephen Curry, that doesn't mean the former number one overall pick is a bad point guard to use in 2K. Just watch some of his dribble moves and crossovers when you play someone online.
Quick Fix: Trade Otto Porter (79), Trey Burke (74), a 2017 first-round pick, and a 2020 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jahlil Okafor (78).
I just pissed off every Sixers fan and every Wizards fan, but wait, I can explain! We may laugh at 2K's trade logic, but the inability to take anything in the trade finder for Jahlil Okafor, despite three big men being seemingly available means we have to improvise.
Acquiring Okafor gives the Wizards their center of the future, though I suggest playing him at the four while you still have Marcin Gortat putting up solid numbers as a center. Moving Okafor full-time to the power forward position raises his overall to a 79, so there's that too.
With that said, you're left with a lineup of Wall at the point, Bradley Beal at the two, Kelly Oubre Jr. at the three, Jahlil Okafor manning the four (for now), and Marcin Gortat as your center. You could move Marcus Thornton to the starting shooting guard position and have Beal play the three - or even pursue a trade for a true small forward - but this is an acceptable lineup for the final few months.
Best Player: Gordon Heyward, F (87)
Needs: Figuring out Heyward's future in Utah; point guard of the future
The rise of the Utah Jazz has finally arrived thanks to a young nucleus of Gordon Heyward, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors.
Everything that this team needed to see happen -- more development from Gobert, who's quickly becoming one of the league's best true centers, Hood breaking out and the development of a suffocating defense that is holding opponents to a league-best 95.3 points per game -- has resulted in the team starting 22-15 and jumping onto the national stage.
You will not want to pass up playing with Gobert, a defensive monster in the paint who has finally added some offense to his skillset. He may not be the Greek Freak, but there's still a sense of athleticism on the offensive end that could completely change the momentum of games.
I also have quite a soft spot for playing with both Gordon Heyward and Joe Johnson, even if one of the two doesn't have the All-Star skills he may have had in Brooklyn.
Still, there's more this franchise needs to do to make sure this year doesn't become a fluke...
Quick Fix: Trade Dante Exum (72) and Jeff Withey (73) to the Houston Rockets for Clint Capela (79) and Patrick Beverly (76); move Rodney Hill to the small forward position (he becomes an 81 overall) and explore trades for Derrick Favors -- but don't rush it.
It's hard to pass up getting Beverly and Capela (who is quickly making a name for himself) for two players who are a 73 or lower. Beverly is also on a relatively cheap deal at two years for $11.51 million and a team option for the 2018-19 season.
If you wanted to, you could even have Beverly start at point guard and move George Hill to the sixth-man position, giving you a lineup of Beverly, Rodney Hood, Gordon Heyward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. It's not much different, but that's also why you landed Capela in the deal with Houston.
Best Player: DeMarcus Cousins, Center (93)
Needs: Long-term stability in the back court; cleaning out the excess amount of bigs; figuring out the DeMarcus Cousins situation.
The Kings are a team that can be handled one of several ways, but it all comes down to whether or not you want to keep DeMarcus Cousins. In-game, I think keeping him is the way to go because you won't get the insane package that Sacramento wants in real-life; trading Cousins for Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, to me, isn't worth it if the Celtics won't give up some of their many draft picks.
So, let's say you keep Cousins on the 15-20 Kings, who are currently eighth in the Western Conference and fighting for a playoff spot. Seeing as their January schedule includes two bouts with the Cavaliers, road trips to Houston and Charlotte, and home duels with the Warriors and Thunder, we should likely know by February 1 if the Kings will be buyers or sellers.
To some people, the thrill of the hunt is awesome. We already know the Thunder and Jazz are going to make the playoffs, but taking control of the Kings who have a legitimate hill to climb and several teams to hold off is appealing enough in my eyes.
Even then, why would you want to trade Cousins in this game? He is the best center in the league, one of the league's elite players, and he's a 93 overall -- with a long time of dominance left. Playing with Cousins should be enough of a reason alone to play with the Kings, but their realistic chance at the playoff hunt doesn't help either.
Quick Fix: Rudy Gay (82), Willie Cauley-Stein (72), Ben McLemore (70), and a 2017 2nd Round pick to Milwaukee for Khris Middleton (81), Michael Beasley (74), Steve Novak (72), and a 2017 Unprotected 1st Round Pick; Omri Casspi (72) to Dallas for Seth Curry (72).
Doing this trade gets rid of an expiring contract in Gay and two young players -- one of whom is blocked by DeMarcus Cousins -- for a 25-year-oldd shooting guard who can also play the three, a big man in Beasley who can start at the four, and a sharpshooter in Novak. This deal will also give you an unprotected first-rounder that, while it likely won't be amazing as the Bucks are headed for a playoff berth, could help when it comes to moving up in said draft.
As for flipping Casspi for Curry, that's just adding another dimension to your back court while getting rid of another wing.
Without any additional changes, the Kings lineup then turns into Darren Collison at the point, Curry at the two, Middleton at the three, Beasley or Kousta Koufos at the four, and DeMarcus Cousins back at the center position.
Is that good enough to beat Golden State? Probably not. Is it good enough to make the playoffs? Definitely.
Best Player: Jimmy Butler, G (90)
Needs: Getting rid of Rajon Rondo; an identity; breakout players.
The Bulls need to get rid of Rajon Rondo and find a point guard, but they also need an identity -- meaning they need to figure out if they're going to blow everything up or build around Jimmy Butler -- and they need players with serious potential to do so.
At 18-18 and with an uphill battle in the Eastern Conference, players can pick between going for the playoffs or dealing every piece they have to start a new era in Chicago.
With that said, I'm sticking with the idea of building around Jimmy Butler and an aging Dwayne Wade, thank you very much.
Like with Cousins, you're not going to get that mega package for Butler that the Bulls would in real life because this game is seemingly afraid of trading draft picks. So keep him around and make him your star.
Between Denzel Valentine, Michael-Carter Williams, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, there is enough young value on this team to build them into contenders around Butler.
Quick Fix: Trade Rajon Rondo (77) and a 2018 2nd round pick to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert (82). Trade Taj Gibson (78) and Robin Lopez (77) to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Beverly (76) and Ryan Anderson (75), then flip Anderson to the Toronto Raptors for Bruno Caboclo (66) and Lucas Noguiera (69). Sign Yi Jianlian (75) from free agency.
Do you want to be paying Ryan Anderson $80 million? If you do, go for it. But I don't. I'd rather just flip him for two young players I can put through training camps and slowly develop alongside Denzel Valentine as pieces for your future.
I still don't know how I managed to get the CPU into offering me Gobert for Rondo, but fine. I'll definitely take that after all of that praise I gave the Stifle Tower earlier.
It seems to be a general consensus that the Toronto Raptors are the second best team in the Eastern Conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Bulls and a new-look lineup of Beverly, Wade, Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Gobert may soon be gunning for them.
Which NBA team do you want to -- or already have -- taken a chance with in the Start Today feature? Make sure to let us know in the comments section below!