Building a NBA championship-caliber team in NBA 2K17 is a tall task. Outside of just accumulating as much star talent as possible, it’s hard to find a whole lot of precedence for successful franchises (in the modern era) outside of the San Antonio Spurs (and even they had obvious stars). We’ve see teams like the Philadelphia 76ers try and go outside of the box, hoarding draft picks and stockpiling young talent. We’ve also seen teams like the Bulls and Knicks utilize a revolving door of players, hoping to find a few that match with their stars in Anthony and Butler.
If we’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s no one strategy in particular that builds a champion. In the last 10 years alone, we’ve seen 11 different teams reach the NBA Finals. Even the glorified powerhouses don’t make it every year. There’s hope for the underdogs in the NBA, it’s just a matter of getting out in front and finding an edge.
Find A Star
As much as we would all undoubtedly agree that basketball is a team game, it’s dominated by singular talents. In the last 10 years, only the 2011 Dallas Mavericks come to mind when thinking about a championship team without a top talent. Even then, while Dirk was 32 and no longer at the peak of his powers, he had been a top-five player when he was in his prime.
Outside of a miracle, you’re going to need a go-to player who can carry you when things get bad. Not everyone is going to luck into a LeBron James, but guys like Kawhi Leonard have developed into studs through great coaching and surrounding them with the right players. Don’t be afraid to take high potential, low-floor guys in the draft. The objective isn’t to sneak into the playoffs, it’s to win an NBA championship.
“…you’re going to need a go-to player who can carry you when things get bad.”
Another method is by hoarding assets (even if those assets come in the form of cap space) and dealing for a superstar. We’ve seen big names like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love come over in free agency or trade. Sometimes the best thing you can do is wait until a team is desperate enough for a rebuild that they’ll give up their player at a lower price. If you’re running a franchise mode, keep an eye on Anthony, Cousins and Whiteside. All of them are superstar-level players (we’re just talking video games here) on bad or mediocre teams.
Find Role Players
This seems to be such an underrated part of winning championships. When the Dallas Mavericks took down “The Big 3” and the Miami Heat in 2011, they had guys like Jason Terry who could light the scoreboard up in a flash. They also had a defensive stopper in Tyson Chandler, making it incredibly difficult for LeBron James to penetrate. In the Heat’s 2012 and 2013 championships, they had sharpshooters like Mike Miller and Shane Battier — Battier also allowed them to play small with him and LeBron at the forward spots.
This might seem like an easy part of the building process, but there are only about 20 players in the NBA at any given time who can shoot at a 40-percent clip from 3-point range. Adding a guy like Korver (“A” 3-point) or Joe Ingles (“A+” 3-point) might be just the spark your team needs. Similarly, there may be less defensive stoppers out there than ever before. If you’re in the East, go ahead and start preparing for LeBron James by adding someone like Thabo Sefolosha or Luc Mbah a Moute. Winning championships requires going through star-studded teams, so prepare for them when possible.
Find An Edge
Don’t be afraid to try something different. The Spurs didn’t get where they are by following the normal traditions of other NBA teams, so why should you? Being different doesn’t automatically lead to success, but you could argue that teams like the 76ers are closer to an NBA championship than a team like the New York Knicks, who just keep taking on established players past their prime. It doesn’t have to be as drastic as the 76ers, either. The Orlando Magic tried to stockpile bigs this year, the Wizards have pieced their roster together by drafting by position rather than sheer talent, and the Celtics are in second place in the East by utilizing unusual personnel and spreading teams out.
Ultimately, you need to find something that makes your franchise different. Maybe that means going small, and killing teams with your quickness and athleticism. Maybe it means surrounding a big with a handful of 3-point shooters, like the Magic did with Dwight Howard in 2009. Whatever route you choose, try and be innovative. Toppling teams stacked with all-star talent can’t be done without a little ingenuity.