With the NBA planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament for Friday that will be broadcast live, which player should your favorite team send to compete?
NBA basketball may not be gracing our TV screens these days, but the league is doing everything it can to satisfy our cravings. The Phoenix Suns have already been promoting NBA 2K games featuring their players and opponents from around the league, even going as far as radio broadcasting the first ever 2K game. Now, the NBA is organizing a video game competition of its own.
According to Yahoo! Sports‘ Chris Haynes, the league is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament starting as soon as this Friday, which will be broadcast on ESPN. The competition will feature 16 players and be held over the course of 10 days, according to Haynes, who reports that DeMarcus Cousins and Donovan Mitchell will be among the big-name players to participate.
This is a fantastic idea to inject NBA personalities back into our lives for a bit, and although a national audience will put some limits on the type of trash-talking we’d normally see on an Instagram Live video or a Twitch stream, our minds are already racing thinking of the possible athletes we could see going head-to-head, even as they compete from their own homes.
The question is, who is the one player your favorite team should be trying to get in on the action? Forget about who’s actually good at video games, because for this televised tournament, we want as much star power and personality as possible. Factoring in all that, as well as rivalries, friendships and trash-talking capacity, let’s go through all 30 squads.
Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young
You were expecting Dewayne Dedmon? Not only is Trae Young the lightning rod of the Atlanta Hawks franchise, an All-Star in just his second season with electrifying passes and limitless range, but his voice also sounds like Kermit the Frog. I would happily take 10 days of listening to this guy try and talk smack during a 2K game.
Boston Celtics: Tacko Fall
Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum are the obvious choices, Gordon Hayward is a big gamer and Marcus Smart (who was recently cleared of the coronavirus) is a sneaky-good selection as well, but Tacko Fall is a 7-foot-5 giant that everybody loves. We already don’t get to see enough of him with the Boston Celtics, so let’s make this right by sending him to the 2K tourney.
Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving
There’s a decent chance Kyrie Irving has never played a video game in his life, but it’d be worth it just to hear him wax poetic about the state of our society right now. The Brooklyn Nets star thinks the earth is flat; we’re pretty sure he’d have some interesting opinions about coronavirus that would go just as viral.
Charlotte Hornets: ….
Umm…Devonte’ Graham, since he’s their best player? Terry Rozier, because he’s never been afraid to express his thoughts? PJ Washington, for his solid rookie year? (Please don’t send someone from the Charlotte Hornets.)
Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine is the only logical choice here, not only because he’s currently the best player on the Chicago Bulls, but because I would be howling the minute he tries to s**t-talk somebody and they clap back with a Jim Boylen comment.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Andre Drummond
This is the closest we’re going to get to figuring out WTF Andre Drummond is going to do with that $28.8 million player option he’ll be mulling with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason. Somebody ask him.
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic
Aside from being the face of the Dallas Mavericks, an All-Star starter in just his second season and an MVP candidate at age 21, we already know Luka Doncic is simply delightful. Given his adorable friendship with Trae Young, who we’ve already submitted for the Hawks, this is a no-brainer.
Denver Nuggets: Anyone but Jamal Murray
Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin
I don’t know. Somehow the silent types like Derrick Rose and Tony Snell didn’t really leap off the roster sheet, so we go with the default star and underrated funny guy of the Detroit Pistons. And since it’s been too long since we’ve seen Blake Griffin on a basketball court, we won’t even blink at this 31-year-old playing video games with the NBA’s next generation.
Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green
Stephen Curry doesn’t strike me as the type who’d be good at video games (him being a fantastic golfer makes a lot more sense). Klay Thompson does, but we can’t pass up any potential Draymond Green trash talk. If anyone on the Golden State Warriors — or in the league, for that matter — were going to slip up and say something totally inappropriate and over-the-line on national TV, it’d be him. We’re here for it.
Houston Rockets: James Harden
I wouldn’t really imagine James Harden being a “fun” choice for a competition like this, but who knows? He gave us one of the best GIFs of all time in a Houston Rockets postgame interview, so maybe his weirdness is exactly what this 16-player field needs. Also, apparently he’s good at FIFA, so 2K probably isn’t far from his wheelhouse either.
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner
Myles Turner raised charity money on his Twitch stream last year, so it’s reasonable to assume he’d feel right at home in this kind of event. All the headlines are going to Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for the Indiana Pacers these days, so it’d be nice to see this shot-blocking machine get to show a little more of his personality during the ongoing hiatus.
LA Clippers: Paul George
Paul George believes he’s the best NBA 2K player in the league and has teamed up with “Ronnie 2K” online to take down challengers before. Also, can you imagine Kawhi Leonard knowing what to do with a video game controller or saying a single word on the broadcast even if he did? Because I can’t. PG-13 is the LA Clippers representative for sure.
Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis
Like Paul George, Anthony Davis believes he’s the best 2K player in the NBA. He owns every copy of 2K dating back to 2007, and I’m sorry, but as much as LeBron James is the face of the Los Angeles Lakers and the entire NBA still, inviting the King would inject too many dorky dad vibes into this contest. Everyone would be on their best behavior and cede the spotlight to him. Let’s settle the Battle for L.A. with a good ol’ fashioned 2K grudge match between PG and AD.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant
Ja Morant has made it clear he won’t back down from any prominent name in the league on his path to becoming one himself. It won’t be long before his star shines as brightly as the rest of these guys’, so everyone might as well get used to the Memphis Grizzlies phenom belonging here.
Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo
Same thing as Ja Morant, only with an All-Star selection to Bam Adebayo‘s name. However, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler being allowed to run his mouth to his heart’s content would be must-see TV if this were an unedited, unfiltered broadcast.
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo
He’s the other main face of the league right now, he’s still only 25 and while his demeanor has taken a steep turn toward more stoic territory with the Milwaukee Bucks setting their eyes on a championship, Giannis Antetokounmpo cutting loose a bit while playing video games would be a great viewing experience.
Minnesota Timberwolves: D’Angelo Russell
Our prayers and best wishes go out to Karl-Anthony Towns and his family, but he’s got more serious things occupying his mind right now. Luckily for the purposes of this tournament, the Minnesota Timberwolves just traded for D’Angelo Russell, who’s got plenty of personality to fit right in (especially with one of our other names on this list).
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson
New York Knicks: RJ Barrett
Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams
Chris Paul is the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s best player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the future and Danilo Gallinari is delightful, but Steven Adams playing video games and talking trash in that New Zealand accent would be priceless. There are few players whose interviews and brute honesty make me laugh on a consistent basis like Adams. He deserves to be here.
Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz
I wouldn’t want to see Aaron Gordon‘s temper flare up if he got robbed in another competition, so we’re going with a guy who, tragically, we haven’t seen enough of during his time in the NBA. Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 pick from 2017, is just finally starting to play regular, solid NBA basketball with the Orlando Magic. I don’t even care how good he is at 2K; it would just be nice to get to know him like a normal No. 1 overall pick.
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is the master of getting under people’s skins. It doesn’t even matter if he’s good at 2K or not; it’d still be a joy to hear the Philadelphia 76ers star providing commentary from the peanut gallery once he got eliminated anyway.
Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker
Devin Booker is a Call of Duty fanatic, he recently raised charity money for COVID-19 relief efforts on his Twitch and on an NBA TV interview last week, he said he’s playing 5-10 hours of video games every day. Even if he wasn’t the face/star/potential savior of the Phoenix Suns franchise, he’s easily the best choice.
Portland Trail Blazers: CJ McCollum
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the best gamers in the league in Damian Lillard, but remember that time CJ McCollum hijacked Dame’s Instagram Live session on the NBA’s official Insta account by making a Jamal Murray pubes joke? Yeah, we’re not passing up the opportunity at something like that happening again on air.
Sacramento Kings: Buddy Hield
Imagine Buddy Hield is picked, ready to represent the Sacramento Kings in a friendly NBA 2K competition. Now imagine his opponent picks the Kings as their team. Imagine it’s a close game, coming down to the wire. Now imagine his opponent pulls a Luke Walton and benches virtual Buddy Hield for the game’s final possessions. If there’s even a chance of this ultimate troll move coming to fruition, then DAMN IT, LET’S SEE IT PLAY OUT.
San Antonio Spurs: Lonnie Walker IV
Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry
We’re breaking our general rule that anyone 30 and above doesn’t really fit in, for two reasons: 1) All these young guys need an older figure to play babysitter who can still keep up and 2) Kyle Lowry is a riot. We’d also accept Pascal Siakam for the Toronto Raptors, but Lowry is the most personable choice.
Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert
We know Donovan Mitchell is already participating and there are only 14 more available spots, but we don’t care. I want to feel the tension seep through the broadcast as Mitchell is forced to play nice with Rudy Gobert, his Utah Jazz teammate and the NBA’s unofficial patient zero who may or may not have given him the coronavirus. Tell me that wouldn’t be appointment viewing!
Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal
Any conversation about the Washington Wizards begins and ends with Bradley Beal, who probably needs to blow off some steam these days anyway. We won’t complicate the discussion by mentioning anyone else.