NBA 2K is a game series which has been pretty important in my life as a basketball fan. I started following basketball closely as a result of NBA 2K16 becoming free on the Playstation Store. I spent a lot of time playing as the Thunder which contributed to my love of this franchise. I wrote a fanpost about my journey as a Thunder fan a few years ago. In that post, NBA 2K was pretty prominent.
NBA 2K16 was my first entry into the series and it is probably my favourite game from the NBA 2K series. The gameplay was frenetic and fast-paced especially when using a player like Russell Westbrook. I currently have NBA 2K16, NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K20 for my PS4.
NBA 2K does not claim to be realistic; it is not a simulation of actual basketball. It can be cartoonish and certain players can just totally dominate the game. It is not always a star player who takes over the game. Gerald Green and JR Smith were ridiculous players in NBA 2K13.
In real life, JR Smith was a wing who was a streaky shooter and an average defender. However, he was a godly player in 2K. In 2K, JR knocked down literally every single shot from deep; it did not matter if Smith was falling out of bounds or contested, the shot would still go down.
LeBron James has always been a strong player in the game. James’ combination of size and speed means he bludgeons through defenses and gets a look at the rim whenever he wants. When James drives, there are very few players who can stop him.
Stephen Curry was a deadly player in NBA 2K16. You could pull up with Curry from any point behind the arc and there would be a good chance that Curry would knock down the shot. It was easy to go on scoring rampages with Curry. Those kind of bursts could turn a tie on its head in the space of a few minutes.
All of these builds were dominant but there is only one build that I would consider to be unstoppable. Russell Westbrook in NBA 2K18 was a God tier build that broke the game. Westbrook had no weaknesses in his arsenal and every shot was money for Russell.
In real life, Westbrook had serious flaws in his game even at his peak. Westbrook shot 34.3% on looks from behind the arc in 2016-17. Westbrook was an average shooter whose volume made him a viable deep threat. Westbrook was not a good defender by any means, Russell frequently lost his man off-ball and rested on defense.
This was simply not the case in 2K, Westbrook’s ratings meant that he was an excellent defender at the point guard position. The game did replicate Westbrook’s tendency to gamble off-ball and hunt steals but the success rate was much too high.
I remember playing against Oklahoma City in a MyCareer save and Westbrook was ridiculous. Every time that I attempted to pass the ball to an open shooter, Russell would dash into the passing lane and intercept the ball. It was incredibly frustrating to play against.
The other aspect of Westbrook’s dominance stems from his 3-point shooting. Russell was a legitimate threat from deep. There would be times when the game’s AI would start chucking shots from behind the arc with Westbrook and nearly all of these shots would go in.
Westbrook had a solid season shooting the ball in 2016-17 but his ratings in 2K meant that he was like Stephen Curry from outside. It was ridiculous and there was no way to guard Westbrook in the game without getting cooked.
Staying tight to Russell on the perimeter was not an option; Westbrook’s speed and physicality meant that he could drive through traffic and finish with a dunk. Sitting off Westbrook at the perimeter and packing the paint did not work either. Westbrook’s 3-point ratings meant he usually shot around 38% from deep on these looks.
There were no weaknesses in Westbrook’s 2K build which is why he was completely unstoppable and probably the strongest build ever in an NBA 2K game. Playing against Westbrook in MyCareer was a nightmare as he was exceptional at playing both ends of the floor. Most players in 2K have at least one weakness, Westbrook was like Superman.