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A Dallas Mavericks fan’s review of NBA2k23

One MMB writer attempts to turn the Mavericks into virtual champions

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I have a yearly tradition after purchasing NBA2k. Sure, MyCareer is a blast and I thoroughly enjoy building a 6’6 chiseled version of myself and grinding my way to superstardom. The REC center is a blast. Playing with 9 other users gives you a glimpse of what it must feel like to play in the G-League. Passing is rare and playing team ball does very little to boost your Rep. Instead, I prefer to fire up GM mode and try to right the wrongs of the actual offseason. As is the custom, I gave myself two years to turn the Mavs into champions. I’d abide by all the rules of the CBA and try to be as realistic as possible for an actual video game.

Before the season started, I pulled the trigger on two trades in an attempt to make the team more versatile on the offensive end of the floor.

Tim Hardaway Jr./Dwight Powell/2024 2nd

Victor Oladipo/Duncan Robinson

Contrary to popular belief, Tim Hardaway Jr. had little to no value on the trade market. Taking a chance on Oladipo was by far the best player offered in a trade involving THJ

Davis Bertans/Josh Green

Jae’Sean Tate/Garrison Matthews

The thought process was simple, Bertans and Matthews essentially cancel each other out while Jae’Sean Tate has proven NBA-caliber skills.

I simulated the season up until the Christmas Day games. At 20-13, the team was third in the West and thriving on the offensive end. I decided to ride things out until the trade deadline and received a notification I could not ignore. The Jazz were offering Bojan Bogdanovic and flotsam in exchange for Oladipo/Duncan Robinson/Frank Ntilikina/and a 2027 2nd. I pictured every Mavs fan yelling at me to accept and so I did just that. If Mavs fans are to be believed, Bogdanovic is the piece that will get us over the top. With the missing ingredient in tow, I restarted the Sim process and noticed I received two offers that gave me pause. Both Harrison Barnes and Clint Capela were offered to me in deals that would have also sent protected 1st rounders to Dallas. I took a quick glance at Wood’s stats and noticed he was putting up All-Star caliber numbers. I gritted my teeth and decided to decline both offers. If engaged, Wood is the ideal pick and roll partner for Luka so I decided to bet on his potential fit.

I simulated up until the trade deadline and saw that the team’s offensive production had fallen off. With Tate and, especially, Bogdanovic playing well, Reggie Bullock became expendable. I moved him and Garrison Matthews in exchange for John Wall and Taj Gibson. Look, I hear you: on the surface, the trade seems ridiculous but it was clear the team needed a ball handler to help run the 2nd unit. In my defense, the short-term returns were extremely positive. The team’s offense took off and the team finished the season 47-35. Luka Doncic finished the year with a line of 35/12/11 and won league MVP. Now, it was time to see how the team would fare in the playoffs. The team started their run by beating the Warriors in five and I could feel the Larry O’Brien trophy in my virtual hands.

The team swept the Grizzlies in the second round and I instructed my girlfriend to line my office in plastic Dexter style. The champagne celebration was just around the corner. The team was back in the Western Conference Finals and would be facing off against the 8th-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. At this point, I paused the game and ran to find my swimming goggles. I was down to my last pair of disposable contacts and didn’t want the champagne to dry them out before the next shipment arrived. I called my kids into the room and told them daddy was about to be a champion. I resumed the simulation and it didn’t quite work out that way. The Lakers ran us off the court in Game 1 on their way to a gentlemen’s sweep. The expressions on my kids’ faces went from that of confusion to utter disappointment. I had failed them, again. The loss stung but I was determined to finish the job in the second year. The kids asked to be excused and I told them that haters are a necessary evil. Their lack of faith in me did little to deter my will to bring a second trophy to this prestigious organization.

With no cap space, I focused on finding bargains in the free agency market that would fit our system. I brought back Dwight Powell and signed Larry Nance Jr., Royce O’Neale, and Eric Gordon. I wanted depth at the center position and role players that would space the floor and play solid defense. John Wall performed admirably the previous season but I decided to move on from him and two 2nds in exchange for a lightly protected first. I figured his health was a ticking time bomb and a protected 1st would be a more valuable trade chip to take into the season. On the court, the early season returns were not great. the team was 14-15 at Christmas and my seat was hotter than McDonald’s coffee. With our draft obligations to the Knicks behind us, I decided to push our chips in for a difference maker. I packaged all of our draft capital for anyone you can think of. Eventually, only the Raptors bit and accepted the package of draft picks for OG Anunoby. I followed that up by parting with my beloved Spencer Dinwiddie in exchange for Terry Rozier. Dinwiddie’s shooting splits fell off a cliff and he dealt with nagging injury after nagging injury. With more time, I probably hold on to him but with one more shot at the title, I had to go all-in for the short term. Next up, Jae’Sean Tate and Larry Nance Jr. were moved for Harrison Barnes and Brandon Clarke. Nance was also struggling to stay healthy and I wanted the veteran presence of Barnes on the team. Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and 2 seconds were moved for Onyeka Okongwu. JaVale McGee was out for the season and I needed to shore up the front line. Lastly, Jaden Hardy and Eric Gordon were moved for Nikola Jovic and Gary Harris. Hardy was struggling from the field and it was difficult to justify his spot in the rotation. I thought Gary Harris was a safer bet.

With that, the chips were cashed, the moves were made, and the rotation was set….

Luka/Rozier/OG/DFS/Wood to start with Barnes/Okongwu/Clarke/O’Neale/Gary Harris/Jovic off the bench. The team was deep and could matchup with just about anyone. I was excited about what lay ahead and simulated the rest of the regular season. The team rebounded well and finished 50-32 after a rough midseason patch. Luka put up 37/12/12 and won back-to-back league MVPs. And folks, nothing could prepare me for what I saw next. Luka actually made second-team All-Defense. If Luka could put down the IPAs and Marlboro Reds for long enough to make the all-defense team, surely great things were on the horizon. Well, I regret to inform you that the Dallas Mavericks were swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves and sent home with great haste. It was a disappointing end to the two-year run. But remember, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the fun we have along the way.

Overall, the game provides the same fun as years prior but feels different enough to make the price tag worth it. The shooting is definitely different and takes some getting used to. The release point is much later than you’d think and I would definitely play around with different shot animations to find the right one for your MyPlayer. The movements and dribbling feel much smoother than last year and I noticed a difference in your ability to guard on the perimeter. In years prior, playing defense felt impossible. You felt as though you were on skates and even the most pedestrian ball handlers would get by you with ease. That is no longer the case and it’s clear the team behind 2k put an emphasis on it. The graphics look amazing and the player’s movements closely resemble what we see on TV. I can’t wait to dive into the different aspects of the game. Till next year.