The NBA offseason to this point has been rich with player movement and surprises. While the acquisition of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash by LA and Ray Allen by the Heat captured much of the headlines, several teams in the league have made significant strides in improving their team and their outlook for the 2012-2013 Season.
This article explores five teams other than the obvious top teams in the league the past couple of years that will be worth a look in NBA 2K13.
Goran Dragic / Kendall Marshall
Shannon Brown / Wesley Johnson
Michael Beasley / Jared Dudley
Luis Scola / Markieff Morris
Marcin Gortat / Jermaine O’Neal
The Suns retooled nicely after the loss of their franchise player Steve Nash this offseason and have quietly built a competitive team. Goran Dragic is coming off of a year with the Rockets in which he set career highs in nearly all categories. Having played for the Suns as Steve Nash’s backup his first two years in the league, Dragic will fit in seamlessly and should help to accelerate offensive chemistry. With him finally obtaining the starting position he coveted last year in Houston, I expect that Dragic will raise his game yet another level.
Michael Beasley provides a significant scoring punch at the SF position and Luis Scola will complete a formidable frontcourt with Marcin Gortat, adding toughness, rebounding and additional scoring. Jermaine O’Neal, fresh off of the orthokine knee treatment made famous by Kobe Bryant, adds additional depth to the Phoenix backcourt and could be the steal of the free agent class if healthy. The playmaking ability of Kendall Marshall and his up tempo style should fit in well with the Phoenix Suns culture and bring some continuity to the second unit. The team also brought back the high flying Shannon Brown and obtained another aerial acrobat in Wesley Johnson. These guys will add some excitement to the Phoenix offense.
The Suns have a well-balanced team that should be pretty competitive in the league this year. They could definitely be one of those sleeper teams in NBA 2K13.
John Wall / Shelvin Mack
Bradley Beal / Martell Webster / Jordan Crawford
Trevor Ariza / Chris Singleton / Jan Vesely
Nene’ / Trevor Booker
Emeka Okafor / Kevin Seraphin
The Wizards made some strong moves near the end of last season and in the offseason that could redefine the franchise over the next several years. In a blockbuster trade the Wizards acquired Nene’, who was instrumental in their strong finish at the end of the regular season. Later, they would add Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor along with the third pick in the NBA Draft, Bradley Beal. Beal potentially provides John Wall with that running mate at the shooting guard position the team has sorely lacked. Beal is a good shooter, defender, rebounder and athlete and if he lands a starting role, will be an excellent complement to the Wizards potential starting lineup of Wall, Ariza, Nene and Okafor.
The Wizards also have some depth on their bench this season, considering that many of the starters last year will be relegated to back-up positions. Trevor Booker followed up a promising rookie campaign with a strong season in 2012 and Kevin Seraphim had a breakout year. These guys provide great depth to the Wizards frontcourt off the bench. Last year’s starting small forward Chris Singleton, the improving Jan Vesely and newly acquired Martell Webster provide depth at the swing positions while Jordan Crawford and Shelvin Mack round out the second unit. This team, at least on paper, has some serious depth.
If John Wall can become the player he’s capable of being this season and Nene’ and Okafor stay healthy, the Wizards could make some noise in the weakened Eastern Conference. With talented players from top to bottom, the Wizards can be a strong team in NBA 2K13.
Ricky Rubio / J.J. Barea / Luke Ridnour
Brandon Roy / Alexey Shved
Andrei Kirilenko / Chase Budinger
Kevin Love / Derrick Williams
Nikola Pekovic / Greg Stiemsma
The Timberwolves had a pretty interesting offseason and I am intrigued to see how the team comes together. Having gone hard after Nicholas Batum and fallen short, The Wolves were fortunate to land Andrei Kirilenko. AK47 was impressive throughout the Olympics and his slashing style offensively could provide the perfect complement to Kevin Love, who makes much of his living from the perimeter. In addition to Kirilenko, the T-Wolves acquired his Olympic teammate Alexy Shved, a heady PG/SG that will provide leadership and scoring punch off the bench. Amongst the players returning, Nikola Pekovic was a pleasant surprise last season, putting up some impressive numbers once he secured the starting 5 spot. Derrick Williams had an up and down rookie season, but might be poised for a breakout year in 2013.
The signing of Brandon Roy by the Wolves was a big risk/reward proposition. It’s hard to picture a guy with no cartilage in either knee surviving the rigors of a full NBA season but if he can, the Timberwolves have a huge upside. Even at 60%, Brandon Roy is a difference maker on the offensive end and can be a dangerous pairing with Rubio.
Ricky Rubio exceeded the expectations of most last year with an impressive rookie campaign and the young man will only get better. Ultimately, how well the Timberwolves perform in the 2013 season will largely rest on his shoulders. To understand his importance to his team, one need only refer to the win/loss column. With Rubio in the lineup, the Timberwolves were a .512 team, having won 21 and lost 20. Since Rubio’s ACL injury, the team went 5 and 20, winning only 20% of their games.
The T-Wolves are likely to start the season without Rubio, which from an NBA 2K13 standpoint means gamers won’t be able to experience the full team for perhaps a month or two until he returns. When he does however, the Timberwolves could be one of the more fun teams to use, with a balanced offensive attack and a pretty good bench. I look forward to seeing the type of backcourt he forms with Roy, how much Pekovic improves, and the dynamic AK47 introduces to that lineup.
Deron Williams / C.J. Watson
Joe Johnson / Keith Bogans / Tyshawn Taylor
Gerald Wallace / Marshon Brooks
Kris Humphries / Mirza Teletovic
Brook Lopez / Reggie Evans
The Nets are probably one of the more obvious choices on this list but underneath all the hype surrounding Brooklyn’s new franchise, there is definitely some substance. Arguably, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson form what is now being dubbed “the best backcourt in the NBA”. The acquisition of Johnson provides the Nets with another 20 point scorer and an X-factor who can take games over when needed. Because the game of Williams and Johnson are complementary, I wouldn’t expect them to cancel each other out offensively as some star-stacked teams have a tendency to. Additionally, what Joe Johnson does not get enough credit for is his defense and he and Gerald Wallace could be a formidable combination in that regard. The underrated resigning of Kris Humphries and the return of Brook Lopez round out the starting lineup and if Lopez can stay healthy, it puts the Brooklyn Nets comfortably in the playoff picture.
The Joe Johnson acquisition got the headlines but several the Nets roster really started to take shape as a result of the less heralded moves. Mirza Teletovic is regarded as one of the great players of the Euroleague and could play a significant role on the team. He is a 6’9, 255 pound 3 point marksman with an impressive all-around game and a high basketball IQ. Keith Bogans is a solid defensive shooting guard who played well a year ago for the Chicago Bulls. University of Kansas rookie Tyshawn Taylor may turn some heads this season with his winning play. He is a gritty defensive combo guard who can fill it up offensively when he gets in a rhythm. Reggie Evans is a quality rebounder and defensive player and C.J Watson was an absolute steal having signed for the league minimum. Watson was a key factor in the impressive play of the Chicago Bulls last season who were without their star Derrick Rose. Last but not least, Marshon Brooks could really thrive in the 6th man role and provide a significant scoring boost to the second unit.
The Brooklyn Nets are the new exciting thing in the NBA and it’s not all smoke and mirrors. The team has legitimate depth and with one or two more pieces, they can be a contender. I imagine that the Nets will be one of the most frequently used teams online in NBA 2K13 outside of the Heat, Lakers and OKC.
Golden St. Warriors
Stephen Curry / Jarrett Jack
Klay Thompson / Brandon Rush
Harrison Barnes /Richard Jefferson
David Lee / Carl Landry
Andre Bogut / Andris Biedrins
The Golden State Warriors made some significant moves last season and this offseason that could potentially put them in playoff contention in the West. The mid-season acquisition of Andrew Bogut was a delayed-gratification move that may have worked out in the teams favor. The Warriors received the 7th pick in the NBA draft which they used to acquire one of the best overall rookies in the 2012-2013 class, Harrison Barnes. Barnes excellent midrange and 3 point game could be a hand-in-glove fit for the Warriors and with the trade of Dorell Wright to the 76ers, he is likely to claim the starting spot at small forward. In fact Barnes and the Warriors sharp-shooting 2nd year man Klay Thompson displayed quite the chemistry in their first game together in Summer League, combining for 10 of 12 shooting behind the 3 point arch, and 47 points in a 40 point route of the Lakers. Those two in addition to the ever efficient Stephen Curry could form a very dangerous trio.
The Warriors significantly bolstered their second unit with the additions of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. The two provide the team with starter quality backups at the point guard and power forward positions and good insurance in case of injury. Brandon Rush provided strong production off the bench and sharp shooting from 3 point range as did Richard Jefferson when healthy.
The biggest question mark for the Warriors this year is can this team stay healthy. If they can, they should compete for the 7th or 8th seed in the West. Andrew Bogut and David Lee will form a formidable frontline offensively and the inside out game for this team could be special. With four players on the team who shot better than 40% from 3 point range last year and a fifth in Harrison Barnes who shot 57% in eight Summer League games, the Warriors could be an offensive powerhouse in NBA 2K13.
There are just a few of the new-look teams in the NBA this season that could be a lot of fun to use in NBA 2K13. What other teams are you guys excited about?