The NBA 2K10 Association mode is where some gamers make their living. Some will choose to take a championship-caliber team to the top, but many others will select a bottom-feeder team and build that squad into a contender -- the challenge is half the fun after all.
So I will be focusing on turning a bottom-feeder team into a championship-caliber team. But for the record, regardless of what you choose to do, Association mode is a blast. Being able to control your team is a dream come true for most gamers.
Now pay attention, these steps may just help you create the next NBA dynasty.
Yes, I said every team in the league. I realize offseasons will be a lot more time consuming, but if you do not control all 30 teams, Bron, Wade, Bosh, Amar’e, Dirk, Ginobili, Joe Johnson and others will never make it to free agency -- and I know all you Knicks and Nets fans want to grab a certain stud. Obviously, you do need to have some restraint during this process as well, but the idea is to create parody without creating an unrealistic amount of free-agency chaos. Users be advised.
One of the most important things you will have to do, especially with the summer of 2010 right around the corner, is manage your cap space. Depending on which team you select, it might be difficult to successfully complete this task at the start since every team in the NBA seems to be overpaying for role players. So ideally you will select a team that has a manageable cap situation.
Either way, the point is to avoid too many players with long contracts and large cap hits. If you’re rebuilding a team, you don’t want Corey Maggette sitting on the bench with 4 years and 50 million left on his contract. So if you have to, trade some decent players away with your bloated contracts to acquire some young talent or second-round draft choices.
There are four ways to build your team into a title contender:
Trading can make you or break you, depending how you like to swing things. If you’re choosing a team on the decline with star players still on the roster, trade them now.
Take the Suns for example. It's more than a distinct possibility that Amar’e will not re-sign next year, and Nash is not the same Nash who won back to back MVP awards. So in videogame land it is not a hard choice to trade both of them. Get something for Amar’e while you still can -- maybe make that trade the Warriors had on the table during the draft. Nash, you can keep him if you want to since he is a fan favorite with only two years left on his contract, but you could get a good young player with some big-time potential for him.
And never count out draft picks, get as many as you can. You need to be willing to build for the future.
(For Knicks fans out there, somehow try to trade Curry and/or Jeffries for any type of expiring contract. Then pray.)
The Draft can be awesome, but only if you download one of the drafts available through 2K Share -- that way everyone’s man crush, John Wall, can potentially play for you.
If you traded correctly, you probably grabbed an extra first-round choice, which gives you the opportunity to make some more moves. When it comes to the NBA Draft, always draft based on need, not skill or potential (I realize this is somewhat backwards when compared to real life). If you’re Boston, don’t draft John Wall when Rondo is your starting point guard. Instead search for other teams with a high draft choice and a point guard need, make an offer and pull the trigger. This way you still get a player you need and a little extra bonus on the side.
I would recommend staying away from superstars unless you’re to the point where a particular superstar is the missing piece to a championship. But you will want to find some good role players and some good young guys on the cheap. A few players will end up being diamonds in the rough, but you have to really analyze them. Check out their ratings, not just their names.
Veterans are also always eye candy for most players, but I would recommend not signing them unless the contracts are one-year deals and will not take away playing time from future stars. Most importantly, don’t overpay for anyone. Luke Walton is not worth 7 million when he is only playing 10 minutes a game. (He's probably not worth 7 million even if he's playing 48 minutes a game.)
Use the D-League
Another awesome new feature in this year’s game is the D-League. The D-League is not as advanced as I had hoped it would be, but it is still a nice addition. A lot of the rookies you will draft outside of the lottery, and especially in the second round, will not be NBA ready. The D-League is a way to get them the playing time they need to get better, without allowing them on the court during a big divisional game.
You can only send two players down to the D-League from your roster, but that is plenty. When you send your players down to the D-League, I would recommend paying close attention to the stats your players are putting up -- even play a few games so you can get a feel for how well a certain player will perform for you in the future.
You need to have patience. Without it your team will never become what you want it to be. Half of the studs you get out of the NBA Draft will have a rating south of 70 at the beginning, and those ratings will not jump up into the 80s anytime soon. It will take a few years to develop those players into the stars you want them to be.
If you dump Stephen Curry after three seasons because he is only a 74 overall, then Association mode is not for you. Curry will get into the 80s if you give him time, but he needs that time just like anyone else.
No team ever wins a championship during or after the first year a star prospect arrives (sans the Tim Duncan perfect storm). It does not happen, so it will not happen. An eighth seed is even an overachieving.
Patience is needed to turn a team into a powerhouse. But once you make a huge run deep into the playoffs and have an upsetting loss in the conference finals, you will then know where your team is headed in the near future. The NBA Finals. Isn’t it worth the wait?
I’m not kidding, which is why I’m telling you again. This is the best feature 2K could have given us this year. To be able to control each and every team is sick. This makes the offseason much more realistic.
You get all the right players out into the market (or at least guesstimate), with anyone with a lick of cap space fighting over them. Sure if you want to cheat (I’m talking to you Knicks fans), you can have only one team offer a max contract to any player, *cough* LeBron *cough*, and that player will sign with that team.
Not only can you affect the free-agency market, but you can also choose to blow teams up if they are not going to contend for a championship. The Wizards are a perfect example. They are constantly hurt, and even when healthy cannot get higher than a fifth seed. Even if they are not the team you are running with, make those deadline trades we never see and get rid of Arenas, Butler and Jamison. Make Foye a part of the future, along with whatever players and picks you get in return for those three players.
But seriously, if you want to enjoy the 2K Association mode as much as possible, you better select all 30 teams because it is loads of fun.