The NBA 2K series seems to be taking the basketball world by storm every year, and fans flock to buy the game all over the world. Much like FIFA dominates the soccer universe, NBA 2K is the undisputed king of all basketball games. The roster updates, gameplay improvements, and unlimited game modes make this franchise the best way for NBA fans to fantasize about professional basketball.
NBA 2K22 was recently released and has won the approval of the majority of fans. The next generation is really here, and the graphics and gameplay tweaks this year have been really exciting. But where does NBA 2K22 rank among the best 2K games of all time? Here are the rankings of all 2K games, from the first to the new release on September 10, 2021.
22. NBA 2K8
NBA 2K8 was under-delivered in a number of ways, including a lot of misrepresentations regarding player movement. Large centers could play lockdown defenses on the perimeter, and finishing on the edge was a bit of a pain due to the slower and delayed animations. If 2K had corrected these bugs, 2K8 might have been a more solid game, but overall it pales in comparison to the other games released.
21. NBA 2K6
With Shaquille O’Neal on the cover for the first of two straight years, 2K6 was by no means a bad game. The game was recognized for its presentation, soundtrack, and gameplay as NBA 2K began to break away from every other basketball game. The main problem was the lack of improvement over NBA 2K5, which frustrated some basketball fans.
20. NBA 2K19
NBA 2K19 had some strong aspects, including guest commentators and very solid player faces, but there were simply better games that 2K made. It would change only slightly in 2K19 from 2K18, which made it seem like a game with roster updates and minor changes in player movement. The game was light years ahead of NBA Live, as the majority of fans would agree.
19th NBA 2K18
NBA 2K18 promised a lot when it came out with Kyrie Irving on the cover, and it got fairly delivered. The gameplay was solid, as expected with the 2K franchise, but the most important addition was “all-time teams,” which had the best players in the history of any NBA franchise. There have been slight improvements in 2K17’s gameplay, although there have been some frustrations with the game’s AI
18. NBA 2K20
NBA 2K20 had mixed reviews when it was released, but ended up being a solid game for NBA fans. After all, there is no other competition where NBA Live lags far behind in terms of simulation gameplay and a ton of features. 2K20 was fun for fans to play online too, and progressing a created player in “MyCareer” was perhaps the best part.
17. NBA 2K4
ESPN NBA BASKETBALL was essentially NBA 2K4, although the “2K” part of it was missing. As in previous years, Allen Iverson was the valued cover athlete. ESPN NBA BASKETBALL introduced some revolutionary systems including improved pass, presentation, graphics and streetball-like features. At the time, this game was really special.
16. NBA 2K17
With Paul George on the cover, NBA 2K17 promised a ton of new game features it would deliver. The practice facility was fun for new players to the series, while the ability to relocate and expand the NBA in player modes was very well received. Gameplay also shifted to a 3-point heavier style of play, an indication that simulation basketball was at the heart of the game.
15. NBA 2K21
NBA 2K21 added some nice features to the next-gen systems, including varying vibrations in the controllers and also gameplay that represents the modern day NBA. The only problem was the poor shot display which frustrated a lot of fans upon release. But graphics, presentation, and a ton of game modes made 2K21 a solid game despite the poor shooting animations.
14. NBA 2K3
NBA 2K3 featured 2K legend Allen Iverson on the cover, signaling that this would be a great game once it was released. What it was. With 2K’s first partnership with ESPN, the game looked very different as the presentation was rock solid. The gameplay was similar to 2K2, although the graphics and player movements took a leap too.
13. ESPN NBA 2K5
This was the first NBA 2K game that Allen Iverson was not featured on the cover, as this time a heavily African Ben Wallace was the cover athlete. Wallace was arguably the most dominant defender in the league and a fan favorite, so he was a solid choice. That said, 2K5 had strong gameplay and was very affordable for fans at the time of its release.
12. NBA 2K1
In hindsight, while this game lacks graphics or unlimited game modes, it changed the quality of basketball games when it came out. NBA 2K1 has taken over the original version and completely improved the gameplay, while adding real landmarks like Rucker Park. Of course, 2K1 introduced online multiplayer to the basketball series.
11. NBA 2K7
For NBA fans who still enjoy the Playstation 2 and even the Playstation 3, NBA 2K7 was a lot of fun. It had very solid gameplay as usual and each player’s style was carried over well into the video game. Game modes like Association and Street Mode were also welcomed by fans, and it was hard to get bored playing one of the better video games of the 2000s.
10. NBA 2K10
NBA 2K10 was a decent game, but a big part of the game’s success was Kobe Bryant on the cover. There were some technical issues with the release, but the game received positive reviews from players thanks to the introduction of MyPlayer. Because of this mode alone, 2K10 makes it into the top 10, as this game mode is still a fan favorite until now.
9. NBA 2K14
Similar to 2K11 3 years ago, NBA 2K14 gave the player the chance to experience the career of one of the greats of all time: LeBron James. The “Path to Greatness” mode was a lot of fun and reminded NBA fans of the path LeBron had taken to become a special talent and arguably the greatest player of his generation. Apart from LeBron’s mode, a fantastic soundtrack and the Euroleague teams have been a great addition to NBA fans worldwide.
8. NBA 2K15
It was fun to see NBA 2K14 in LeBron: Path to Greatness mode, but 2K15 built a little more of what was successful. 2K15 improved player movements, faces, and smoother gameplay, while the majority of game modes remained the same. 2K15 was just a solid game to enjoy every day, and it was hard to get bored with it.
7. NBA 2K9
NBA 2K9 was just plain fun because the latest consoles, including the Playstation 3, had improved graphics. 2K9 was also a lot of fun thanks to its realism, and halftime shows were a great addition. Having “The Big Ticket” Kevin Garnett on the cover was a huge plus for NBA fans as well.
6. NBA 2K13
NBA 2K13 was an interesting game because it had a ton of new features, including Jay-Z as a producer. In addition to a bumpy soundtrack, 2K13 included solid features like “Shoe Creator” with some well-known brands and also an all-star weekend. The classic teams were also fun, like the “Dream Team” and the 2012 USA Team. With Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Derrick Rose as cover athletes, it also became a modern day attraction.
5. NBA 2K22
Although it seems very early to put 2K22 at the top of this list, the game is really great. The graphics are truly next-generation, and there are tons of offline and online modes for gamers of all ages. 2K22 is very inclusive, meaning die-hard basketball fans and casual gamers can all enjoy the game the same way, something most 2K games weren’t designed for in the past. Building on the good things of 2K21, 2K22 adds an improved shot indicator that matches real-world gameplay.
4. NBA 2K12
NBA 2K12 was a really great game that featured improved graphics and gave players more freedom by adding more legends to the franchise. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson were cover athletes of the game, which shows 2K’s willingness to strive for perfection. The gameplay was as close to NBA basketball as possible and it’s absolutely one of the top 5 basketball games of all time.
3. NBA 2K2
Whether it was the loud introductory music or the league MVP in Allen Iverson was on the cover, 2K2 was a special game for gamers back then. 2K2 was available on Playstation 2, XBOX and Gamecube, giving NBA fans around the world instant access to one of the best basketball games of all time. The game also introduced real-world basketball factors like defense and shot selection, moving away from the arcade feel that most basketball games had at the time.
2. NBA 2K16
Most fans will rave about NBA 2K16 as the game most closely related to simulation basketball as it incorporates the attacks common in the modern NBA and greater control over defense. Not to mention that 2K16 included the rejuvenation of MyCareer, which allowed players to relocate franchises and experience basketball on their own terms.
1. NBA 2K11
It only fits that NBA 2K11 had Michael Jordan on the cover because it was the GOAT of NBA 2K. The game reached a major turning point, including the Chicago Bulls legend on the cover, after being absent as a playable character for several years. From the Jordan Challenge modes to the smooth gameplay, this was the best 2K game from start to finish.
Credit for the pictures: Tire hype