Zaza Pachulia won the jump ball against Joakim Noah and the NBA 2K17 demo was underway. Stephen Curry calmly dribbled the ball past the halfcourt line and stopped on the left part of the Knicks logo, a solid 40 feet from the bucket. I was controlling Derrick Rose, the CPU had Curry. From 40-plus feet, the two-time MVP pulled up, off a stationary dribble and wetted that thing. It looked like a layup for the CPU. It looked like real life for me.
Just moments before, NBA 2K Senior Producer Rob Jones told me, “Our digital guys need to look, play, feel like their counterparts. One of the things that we started to talk about this year is how do we differentiate players who are better than other players?”
Based on that first shot, they answered that question.
The demo I got to hop on was only a five-minute quarter between the Warriors and Knicks, at Madison Square Garden. Subs were made automatically, fatigue was on, you could’t call any set plays. But Jones did mention that every single team has a different base set in this year’s game. From the Knicks running the Triangle to the Spurs running their motion, each squad’s plays will change.
And that’s just the beginning of the changes. Layups will no longer be automatic buckets. Like free throws and jumpshots, user will have to time their layups, which I found out the hard way when I tried to get a bucket at the tin with D-Rose. Those size-up moves, which only required one flick of the right stick in 2K16 are also going to be manually controlled. When you get those right, playing with Curry might have to be illegal.
Even in this demo, it was easy to see that the developers have finally figured out how to translate Curry’s unfair skill set to the virtual hardwood. His speed is ridiculous. He wasn’t just outrunning Rose, who was guarding him. He was outrunning his own teammates and the rest of the Knicks. His dribbling rating had him fluttering all around the court, taunting anyone dumb enough to try and guard him. Word to the wise—in this year’s game, do not switch pick-and-rolls involving the Chef. Your big man cannot guard him. I repeat: cannot.
Then there’s the shotmaking I was destroyed with in my first go-around against the CPU. After two games with the Knicks, Jones told me to switch over to the Dubs so he could play with Carmelo Anthony. I was expecting a close game. This was, of course, Rob Jones, the man partially responsible for modern 2K, playing against me, who normally plays with fatigue off at only the Superstar level of difficulty.
But with Curry on my side, I destroyed Jones. I hit three straight missiles from well beyond the 23-foot, 9-inch arc. When Jones pressed up, I danced into the lane with Steph and either got a layup or a wide open three-ball for someone else. (Oh, yeah, the Warriors are also really good as an overall team.)
I took two out of three games against Jones, and the one loss was because I stepped over the halfcourt line while trying to figure out the new size-up moves late in the game. If I can dominate with Curry like that, I really am scared to play online this year.
The blocks were bigger, the game was quicker, the shots were crazier. I didn’t even get to check out the expanded MyLeague and MyGM modes or the Dream Team. Now excuse me while I go sleep until September 20 when the game officially drops and I get to reign supreme with Stephen Curry.