Play Now is the first mode you’ll see when you launch NBA 2K21, featuring various offline and online games that make use of the NBA’s greatest champions. Some games, like BlackTop, Quick Play, and Local Play, are an easy way to play 2K21 without spending hours building your player or team. This way, you can play competitive 2K with your friends locally or online right away.
The second biggest perk of Play Now is the NBA players available to these modes, since they can’t be recreated in the MyPlayer Builder. Their sheer athletic ability and skill are unmatched by anything you could possibly grind towards. It’s really fun to play for the glitch-level skill these NBA legends possess. Below, you’ll find 10 of the best as well as some honourable mentions to help you pick your go-to Play Now players.
1. LeBron James, all-time Miami Heat
LeBron James won two rings with the Heat and is considered one of the greatest to ever play for the Miami franchise, making this version of LeBron the best in the game. With a 99 overall, and an All-Around 2-Way build at the small forward or power forward position, he’s an unstoppable force at the rim. He’s the fastest version of LeBron in the game and no other player can activate more contact dunks. LeBron can bulldoze through almost any defender, sending them to the ground. His size, strength and speed also work on the opposite end of the court, activating some crazy defensive animations.
2. Kevin Durant, all-time Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant made a name for himself as the Slim Reaper while playing for the Thunder before eventually going to Golden State where he won 2 rings with them in 2017 and again in 2018. With a 97 overall Scoring Machine build that plays the small forward or power forward position, he’s a rare player that has incredible shooting ability and insane length. KD is 6’9 with a 7’5 wingspan and can make shots from anywhere, including at the rim making him a glitch on offence. His unique build also makes him effective on the defensive end as well.
3. Wilt Chamberlain, all-time Golden State Warriors
Wilt Chamberlain won 2 NBA championships and is regarded as one of the greatest centres of all time. He’s still the record holder for the most points scored in a single game, with the 100 points he got in 1962 with the Warriors. This 98 overall Paint Beast build that plays the centre or power forward position is arguably the most athletic player for his size. He is 7’1 and moves even faster than LeBron James. Dominant massive inside centres like Chamberlain are always fun to dominate on both sides of the floor with, but Wilt is extra glitchy when scoring in the paint making him more fun to use than other centres.
4. Stephen Curry, all-time Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry has three rings with Golden State and is considered to be one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. Curry popularized the three-point shot making it a staple play in basketball games across the globe. In-game Curry is a 97 overall and has an All-Around 2-Way build that plays the point guard position. What makes Steph special, not only in the NBA but in 2K21 as well, is his ability to 3-hunt. Curry has all the crazy dribble moves and the best shooting stats and badges. His ball-handling is elite, especially the Pro 2 Escape, which has been coined by the community as the Curry Slide since it’s his staple move in order to get open shots.
5. Allen Iverson, all-time Philadelphia 76ers
Allen Iverson never won an NBA championship, but he was an NBA All-Star 11 times in his 14-year career and won the All-Star MVP award in 2001 and again in 2005. This All-Time Iverson is a 97 overall and plays the All-Around 2-Way build at the shooting guard or point guard position. What makes Iverson special is his ability to be the most dominant guy on the court even though his opponents may have a foot or more in height on him. He’s 6’0 and has the fastest speed in the game making it easy to make layups on larger opponents with six hall of fame finishing badges like Acrobat, Giant Slayer and Relentless Finisher, to name a few. It’s like if the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and LeBron James had a baby.
6. Kyrie Irving, all-time Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers and later won a ring with them in 2016. In 2K21 Irving is a 94 overall with the Offensive Threat build at the point guard or shooting guard position. Kyrie plays similar to Allen Iverson, bringing amazing dribble moves and animation, which is not surprising with a 99 ball handle skill. While Iverson is more speed-driven, Kyrie is more shot-driven with hall of fame First Step, Ankle Breaker and Tight Handle combined with gold Range Extender badges. Kyrie is a good option for players that want to 3-hunt or drive to the rack while breaking down defenders.
7. Giannis Antetokounmpo, all-time Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo is known as the “Greek Freak” because of his top-tier basket skills (and because he was born and raised in Athens, Greece after his parents immigrated from Lagos, Nigeria). Giannis has a 2-Way Slashing Playmaker build in 2K21 at the small forward or shooting guard position and has a 96 overall. The Greek Freak has length like Durant, along with speed and strength like Chamberlain, but is especially fun to play on the defensive end. Giannis can chase-down blocks and steal the ball with the Interceptor badge. This makes him effective playing lanes and can force a lot of turnovers giving your team transition buckets. Giannis can dunk too so he’s a great player to take into the paint on the offensive side as well.
8. Kobe Bryant, all-time Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in 2020, spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, where he won five championships. Bryant also won the All-Star Game MVP Honors four times, which is the most in the history of the NBA. In-game Kobe has a 98 overall and an All-Around 2-Way build at the shooting guard or small forward position. What makes Kobe fun is his ability to make the toughest shots possible due to his high shooting ratings and six hall of fame shooting badges. On top of making arguably the craziest shots in the game, Bryant also has a very good defence, driving and finishing so he’s good at everything the ultimate 2-Way player.
9. Julius Erving, all-time Brooklyn Nets
Julius Erving, or Dr. J, is the only player in history to have won league MVP awards in both the ABA and NBA and is considered to be the biggest reason the two basketball associations merged in 1976. Erving plays at the small forward or shooting guard position, as a 2-Way Scoring Machine with a 97 overall. Erving is fun because he is such a flashy player. He’s a real showman on the court with an amazing dunk, lay-up packages, high speed, and ball handling. His seven hall of fame finishing badges makes him especially talented at scoring at the rim. Dr. J also has one of the best afros of all time from when he played for the Nets, as if you didn’t already have enough reasons to pick him up.
10. Michael Jordan, all-time Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan won six NBA championships, was a 14-time All-Star and received five MVP awards in his career. Jordan is also the richest athlete in the world with a net worth of over 2 billion. Most consider MJ to be the greatest basketball player of all time and 2K seems to be in agreement with them. Jordan has a 99 overall and plays the shooting guard or small forward position with an All-Around 2-Way build. Jordan is the best All-Time player in 2K21, stacked with 16 Hall of Fame badges across finishing, shooting, defence/rebounding and playmaking, something no other player can possibly get in any game mode. If you want to be the best player on the court in any situation you play as Michael Jordan.
Vince Carter, all-time Toronto Raptors.
Magic Johnson, all-time Los Angeles Lakers.
Tracy McGrady, all-time Orlando Magic.
Shaquille O’Neal, all-time Los Angeles Lakers.
Brandon Roy, all-time Portland Trail Blazers.