NBA 2K21 has been out for a week. While most of us are still figuring out how to shoot, the game reflects the Orlando Magic’s stagnation last year.
It still feels like the calendar is off.
NBA 2K21 has been out for a week but the NBA Playoffs are just hitting the conference finals round. The release of 2K Sports’ annual video game is usually the unofficial beginning of the next season.
Fans get the first chance to try their hands out at whatever changes happened across the league and get at least a virtual feel for their new team.
Instead, the game shipped out with the 2020 rosters still loaded in as the season concluded. It does not feel like much of an update. And with the move to the next generation fo consoles — Playstation 5 and XBOX ONE-S — there are certainly some people waiting to take the plunge into the 2021 season in December with updated rosters for next season.
There will be a time to look at how the game updates rosters and what the Orlando Magic look like when the 2021 season is about to begin.
But the opening of the game is at least a chance to see how the video game sees how the Magic have progressed. That is something.
The Magic are considered a Tier II team in the game’s Play Now structure. That is essentially a team that is not a contending team but is still a playoff-caliber team (there are three tiers that are supposed to help players in online games get even matchups).
But here are how the Magic’s individual players have progressed from NBA 2K20 through NBA 2K21 using the game’s MyTeam mode as a base for rankings to start each version of the game and using the final player rankings in Play Now from the last update to NBA 2K20 as a midpoint.
|Player||NBA 2K20 Start||NBA 2K20 Final||NBA 2K21 Start||Change|
Do not worry, it is very normal for ratings to adjust downward at the start of a new game. The final ratings are usually a reflection of how players were playing in that moment of the season — in this case, when the season went on hiatus when the Magic were playing very well.
It should also be noted that MyTeam ratings are sometimes adjusted down from the Play Now ratings. Nikola Vucevic, for instance, is an 86 when you fire up MyTeam or MyPlayer (if the Magic choose your player for your career).
But it is clear from this, the Magic are a team that stagnated from last year. Vucevic did not have the same All-Star-caliber season. Aaron Gordon’s rating stayed the same. And everyone else, outside of Markelle Fultz who entered the season with zero expectations, seemed to stay the same.
That is except Jonathan Isaac.
Isaac jumped up five points from last year’s mark even after playing in only 34 games last season. The game was likely finalized before he tore his ACL. But injuries do not typically cause dramatic shifts in a player’s rating — just look at where Al-Farouq Aminu is at.
But Isaac’s defense, and the promise he has as a young player, makes him perhaps the most popular player on the Magic to use. Already, his 80-rated Emerald card is considered one of the best at that skill level. At the end of NBA 2K20, Isaac was largely considered one of the better Emerald-level players MyTeam players could grab — Emeralds are players rated 80-84.
He is someone you probably want to grab at this early stage of the game if you are playing MyTeam at least.
This is where the MyTeam mode of the game gets interesting.
MyTeam allows players to build their own teams using current and historical players (a rookie Shaquille O’Neal is one of the players you can start this year’s mode with and a Magic version of Rashard Lewis is already available). Throughout the year they release boosted versions of current players too — hello Galaxy Opal Mohamed Bamba — to keep the game interesting and engaging for players.
This is where most players probably interact with and play as Magic players.
Bamba was one of the few players on the Magic roster to receive a ratings boost over last year. While his stats remained largely the same from last year to this year, he remains a really good video game player with his block rating and 3-point shooting. He not only got a Galaxy Opal for his popularity but an Amethyst card, rated at 92, that several players used online to spread the floor and block shots.
The Magic will not feature a lot of fantastic playable players for this mode right off the top — except that Shaquille O’Neal starter card. Tracy McGrady, Anfernee Hardaway and even Dwight Howard will get added as the game continues to expand.
But for this year’s team, it is clear the game sees the same stagnation we saw on the court. The Magic are still filled with solid, but not spectacular players. The collection is good, but perhaps not good enough.
We will have to see how ratings update when the 2021 season is set to begin and the roster moves and changes are made.
At least no one can figure out shooting in NBA 2K21, so that should give the Magic a fair chance, right?