Kobe Bryant – to whom the cover of NBA 2K24 was dedicated as well as a tear-jerker mode, the Mamba Moments, through which to relive first hand the moments that defined his Legend – has accumulated, in his 20-year professional career in the NBA, about 48,637 minutes of play which translated, means more than a month of uninterrupted basketball.
I can’t tell you my official numbers with the 2K series, but I can assure you that between NBA 2K3 and NBA 2K16, I have accumulated enough offline experience to have won every league possible, even with very poor teams. Every afternoon, after school first and college later, I would come home and spend hours and hours assembling the perfect franchise, playing forty-eight-minute games, just like in reality. Today, however, the length of a game was halved as well as my time.
It’s too bad that this video game knowledge I’ve just been bragging about did virtually no good for me to win with the very orange New York Knicks, MY ERA in NBA 2K24. I couldn’t help but start the dynasty with the Big Apple team, partly because of the strong bond that was formed after seeing them live on my recent trip to New York (here is the account of my experience with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden). I really wanted to take The Knicks to the top of the world and raise that title that has been missing since 1972. However, I did not reckon with the opponents.
The regular season with the Knicks
When I was “young” my typical formation was quite effective: everything revolved around the play-wing axis with a power forward lethal from behind the arch, who could act as a blocker and get open to shoot three-pointers – we are talking about a scheme that totally broke down opposing defenses – and a playmaker that would manage the game, capable of scoring from any position and dishing out assists for teammates to score.
A few years ago, still with the Knicks, I had Carmelo Anthony and Stephen Curry (coming via trade); today I have Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. The talent is obviously far less but the team still meets my standards: in addition to the dynamic duo, I can count on R.J. Barret as third offensive option – by the way, the Canadian basketball player is strong in 2K24 – and Mitchell Robinson as rim protector, replacing the legendary Tyson Chandler.
After the easy wins in the pre-season, I thought I was already the absolute master of NBA 2K24 gameplay. However, things turned out differently. I lose the first Regular Season game against the Celtics on the photo finish. Second outing, same exact story with the Cavaliers winning, alas, by the skin of their teeth.
In the meantime, however, I am becoming more and more familiar with the new shooting system in which you have to load a marker and release it at the right time. Despite the defeats, Brunson scores that is a pleasure. Doubts, however, I have about Randle, who is erratic and virtually ineffective from the low post where I struggle to get past the opponent, even in favorable mismatch situations.
NBA 2K24’s ProPlay Technology
The third contest against the Bucks is in or out, I am already ready to resign. We fight on every ball, we struggle to defend while the CPU doesn’t help me in changing on blocks – a constant all season long – so much that often the rollers whether they get open or cut inside, are free to receive the pass. I also suffer in helping: when I go to switch players to check Robinson and try to close the penetration line, it really takes me forever to move, even though my read came well in advance. The challenge against the Milwaukee team then allowed me to admire – and suffer through – NBA 2K24’s great gameplay-side innovation, the ProPlay technology.
Basically, this new feature allows you to exactly replicate the movements on the parquet of NBA stars: in this game, Giannis Antenoukumpo, more often than not, attacked the basket by sweeping away, in no particular order, R.J. Barret, Julius Randle, Immanuel Quickley and any other body I tried to interpose between the Greek star and the basket. And fortunately, I might add, that Damian Lillard had not yet landed at the Bucks via trade, otherwise it would have been a bloodbath (full trade between the Bucks, Blazers and Suns here).
I choose, then, to leave Giannis free to do what he wants and avoid having his teammates beat me. A strategy that in the end, will prove crucial: I win a tough game in overtime but also quite exciting (a great credit I want to give to NBA 2K24 is the ability to make you live the decisive possessions as if you were actually on the field with the ball that weighs a boulder when you’re about to shoot a critically important free throw, the struggle to rebound and the tension over a defensive possession that could close out the contest. All emotions that I felt on me like a punch in the chest). Christmas came and I decided, coinciding with the holiday, that it was time to dive into the market to give myself a nice gift.
The Randle – Markkanen trade and the Playoffs
Out goes Randle and in comes Lauri Markkanen, the Utah Jazz’s Finnish basketball player, back from his best year in the NBA: 25 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game. Markkanen’s choice was mainly dictated by the possibility of being able to have the Jazz star play both big wing and center – we are still talking about 213cm in height – so he would have more flexibility with quintets. The first outing against the Timberwolves was a feast and the Brunson – Markkanen pick and pop a joy for NBA 2K24 gameplay.
I close the 82-game regular season (some simulated, some played) with a decent 50 – 32 that earns me third place in the Eastern Conference. April as everyone knows is NBA playoff time, and the first round for my New York Knicks shows to be quite affordable: the challenge is against the Chicago Bulls of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. The first thought after seeing the pairing was, “Against the Bulls you win easy easy easy.“
Never has a statement been more wrong. You know the saying “when the game gets tough, the toughs start playing“? Or the usual little story that when the hottest time of the season comes, the real superstars raise their level of play? Here’s usually what I just wrote often occurs on real courts – for more on this ask Jimmy Butler, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics – but I never thought it would apply in NBA 2K24.
I go out in the first round of the playoffs with a very sad 4 -1 and the main reason for this debacle is due to one, phenomenal player: DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls star ridiculed Tom Thibodeau’s defensive cage, making himself unmarkable from the mid-range and especially – this was not in the game plan – from eight feet. In short, the first journey with the New York Knicks ends here. For the new season that is coming up, I will try to build on the mistakes to try to win at least one playoff series.
Before closing, a clarification: if you noticed, this was not the classic review of NBA 2K24 but is much closer to the one I wrote for WWE 2K23 (if intrigued, here is my review of WWE 2K23). I hope you enjoyed it – the rating refers only and exclusively to to experiences with My Era and with local two-player mode – and while I’m at it, I’ll also invite you to listen to and watch the Video-Podcast at the top of the article, which tells how much fun it is to play among friends locally on Xbox Series X.