NBA 2K15 comes out in 5 days, so we’re picking up the pace a bit for our team previews. Today we are covering 2 divisions. Here, we are discussing the Northwest Division. If you want to see the Atlantic Division preview, click here.
- 2013-2014 Record: 36-46 (11th in West, did not make playoffs)
- 2015-2016 Cap Room: None
- Key Strengths: Point guard play, depth
- Key Weaknesses: Center
1st-Year Strategy: There’s just no flexibility here, which makes it really difficult to do much of anything. You have the option to extend Kenneth Faried after year 1, and, after his play in the FIBA World Cup, it’s an option you should take. The core of Faried, Ty Lawson and rookie Gary Harris is a good start, even if the component parts don’t fit so well.
3-Year Strategy: You have 3 other team options to decide on after year 2. Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, and Randy Foye have a combined $15 million in options, and you should consider picking up all 3. You should probably move on from your other free agents after 2016, unless you really want Danilo Gallinari back, but there’s opportunity cost here in the form of money. Running everything back in 2017 at similar money will more or less cap you out again, and you have some roster stacking that doesn’t really serve you well. You don’t really need 5 guards who are all deserving of 20+ minutes each, as you only have 96 minutes per game to allocate to those positions, unless you decide to play hybrid lineups involving Lawson, Chandler, Harris, and Foye. The more flexibility you build in for yourself the better, as there aren’t many options to serious improvement without blowing up the roster. Should you choose to do so, however, you have a lot of tradeable assets on this team. Only Harris and Faried should be considered untouchable.
- 2013-2014 Record: 40-42 (10th in West, did not make playoffs)
- 2015-2016 Cap Room: $2 million
- Key Strengths: Young, athletic roster
- Key Weaknesses: Outside shooting
1st-Year Strategy: Not much to do after year 1. The team is capped out, and will be dangerously close to the tax after you extend Ricky Rubio, who is a Restricted Free Agent. You can choose to be cheap and just give him his $6.7 million qualifying offer, but keep in mind that Rubio will then be an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2016-2017. Better to extend him early if you can.
3-Year Strategy: Outside of Rubio, all of Minnesota’s young talent is under contract for a while, save a couple of players. One of which is Chase Budinger, who probably becomes redundant with Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine in town. He has a player option for $5 million in 2015-2016, but if he’s not getting solid playing time he may choose not to take that option, which you should consider a positive. One thing you should always be looking for is shooting, as the presumptive 2016-2017 Timberwolves lineup–Rubio/Wiggins/Bennett/Gorgui Dieng/Nikola Pekovic is critically bereft of shooting talent, and there aren’t many great options on the bench, either. See if you can acquire someone like Ryan Anderson to space out the lineup, and, as heretical as it may sound, think hard about trading Rubio at some point, even if you extend him. Your team will not be able to overcome the Western powers without shooting, so it may be worth sacrificing Rubio for some shooters.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2013-2014 Record: 59-23 (2nd in West, lost to San Antonio 4-2 in Western Finals)
- 2015-2016 Cap Room: None
- Key Strengths: 3 top-5 players at their respective positions
- Key Weaknesses: Frontcourt depth
1st-Year Strategy: This may be the best “2K” roster in the game, so there’s really no excuse for you not to win the title in the first year with the Thunder. The addition of Anthony Morrow and growth of Reggie Jackson supplement the Thunder’s guard depth, and guys like Steven Adams, Nick Collison, and Perry Jones should fill in nicely around Serge Ibaka. Let Kendrick Perkins walk after hopefully celebrating your first championship, but consider re-signing Collison. Also, Reggie Jackson is due a qualifying offer in the offseason of 2015, but be careful how much money you give him, because there are bills coming due, fast.
3-Year Strategy: You have 3 max-level extensions to give out between the offseasons of 2016 and 2017, to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. Depending on what you do with Reggie Jackson, there may be a trade to make here involving either Jackson or Westbrook, but the best bet is to get everyone re-signed and continue having cracks at the title.
- 2013-2014 Record: 54-28 (5th in West, lost to San Antonio 4-1 in 2nd round of playoffs)
- 2015-2016 Cap Room: $32 million
- Key Strengths: Great starting 5
- Key Weaknesses: Frontcourt depth
1st-Year Strategy: Don’t get too excited about that cap space, because you have some contracts to give out. LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez are all Unrestricted Free Agents after year one, and their cap holds of $20.6, $10.8, and $9.1 million give you a sense of how much they’ll cost. If you sign all 3 you are effectively capped out unless you can find some savings elsewhere.
3-Year Strategy: If you re-sign all of your expiring deals after 2015, you’re effectively going for broke, so re-sign Nicolas Batum after year 2, and give Damian Lillard whatever he wants to prevent him from entering Free-Agency. This is your team going forward, so focus on filling in weaknesses in your frontcourt depth with any drafting, trading, or signing you do should be focused on filling these needs.
- 2013-2014 Record: 25-57 (15 in West, did not make playoffs)
- 2015-2016 Cap Room: $19 million
- Key Strengths: Tons of young talent
- Key Weaknesses: Lack of top-tier players
1st-Year Strategy: Rudy Gobert might be your center of the future, so consider cutting bait with Enes Kanter or finding a potential trade partner for the big man. Alec Burks is a potential dynamite sixth-man, so it makes sense to give him an extension in 2015 instead of letting him test free agency. There’s no reason to be cheap as the Jazz, as a lot of their building will have to come through the draft, so keeping your players is a must unless you also draft their upgrades.
3-Year Strategy: Outside of Burks there aren’t a ton of decisions to be made here. Allow your other contracts signed through 2017 to expire except for Gobert and Trey Burke, who will hopefully have established himself as your future point guard by this point. The big thing with the Jazz will be developing the players already here and drafting future contributors, as a starting lineup of Burke-Exum-Hayward-Favors-Gobert is a good place to start and grow. However, if Favors doesn’t show much improvement, let him go after the 2018 season as your search for a replacement for Karl Malone continues.
Is one of these Northwest Division teams going to be your go-to side in NBA 2K15‘s MyGM mode? What do you see as the strengths, weaknesses, and plans for these teams as they try to build towards the future? Join the conversation in our forums here at GoodGameBro!