NBA 2k cover

NBA2K: Who Should Really Be on the Cover?


The NBA2K video game series has managed to bring many basketball fans to the video game world. One of the most exciting experiences for fans of the series is the cover star reveal. I will break down who really should have been on the cover over the last five years, but doing so requires some rules. 


There is typically one player on the cover of the game for its annual release. There have been some exceptions, with some containing three players or even three different covers. Still, I will stick to the one cover star tradition as many fans define putting multiple players on the front as a cop-out to avoid a decision. 

Typically, to be on the cover, a player should be one of the best players of the previous year and should not have been on a prior cover in recent times. This means that players such as Lebron James will not be mentioned due to him being on the cover of NBA 2K14. This also means that changing the cover star eliminates that player from being on a future cover. Exclusive covers such as the legend editions will not be acknowledged. Lastly, popularity should play a slight factor in who will be the cover star as it is a significant part of marketing the game. 


For NBA 2K16, the cover included three players, James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Anthony Davis. 


Although all three of those players had a great year, Curry dominated that season. This cover was based on the 2014-2015 season, and that was the year Curry won his first MVP. He averaged 23 points per game and nearly eight assists that season. Curry’s points per game average was lower than Harden’s 27.4, and Curry had a better shooting percentage as he led the Warriors to a 65-15 record. 

Davis did have a good year, but his stats and team success were nowhere near the likes of Curry or Harden. Although there is an excellent argument for Harden to be on the cover, Curry led the Warriors to more playoff success. The Warriors won the finals that year with him averaging 28.3 points per game for that year’s playoffs.

Curry deserved to be the only cover star for NBA 2K16.


For NBA 2K17, the cover star was the Pacers leader Paul George. This cover was based on the 2015-2016 NBA season. Paul George averaged 23 points per game with seven rebounds and four assists. The Pacers finished 7th place in the Eastern Conference that season. The Pacers also lost to the Raptors in the first round of that year’s playoffs. 

Team success should not always determine how good a player is, but he did not come close to winning the MVP race. The cover star should not be the MVP of that season every year, but it hurts Paul George’s case because he was not even in the top 10 amongst considerations. The top five leaders in order were Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant. 

In my world, Curry would have already had his cover eliminating him as a possibility. There are rumors that Leonard has denied being on the cover of an NBA2K game, so to be safe, that eliminates him also. James and Durant had both been a previous cover star, which removes them as well. 

Going down the MVP list reaches a point where it does not rate a star clearly, but the Thunder managed to place third in the Western Conference with Westbrook shooting a better percentage and putting up better stats than Paul George. Although stats without including defense and team success does not rate how good a player is, the cover star should be one of the year’s best performers as well as one of the most popular players. The Thunder achieved playoff success that year, losing to the Warriors in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. This made Westbrook even more well-known than he already was. Westbrook deserved to be the cover star for NBA 2K17


For NBA 2K18, the cover star was Kyrie Irving. 


This cover was based on the 2016-2017 season. Irving and the Cavaliers would lose in the NBA finals to the Warriors. In my world, Westbrook can’t be the cover star because I put him on the cover on NBA 2K17. Although this is true, players such as James Harden, Isaiah Thomas, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a better statistical season than Irving

This choice is one of the closest because Irving did gain a lot of popularity at this point and still had a great season. Even though the other players listed had a better regular season than Irving, the Cavaliers made the finals, and Irving gained a lot of popularity after playing a significant part in the Cavaliers three games to one comeback against the Warriors the previous year. Although the cover is based on what the player did the season before the cover gets released, Irving was very popular and had a great season. 

This is one of the closest decisions, but if I had the choice, the NBA 2K series got it right. Irving deserved to be on the cover of NBA 2K18.


For NBA 2K19, the cover star was Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. 


This cover was based on the 2017-2018 season in which Antetokounmpo would make the all-star team for the second time in his short career. He gained a lot of popularity in the previous season due to his crazy genetics and athleticism. The only possible debates against this cover choice are James Harden, Damian Lillard, or Anthony Davis

All those players had great seasons, but Harden won his first MVP, led the Rockets to a 65-17 record, and made it to game seven of the Western Conference finals that year. All those accomplishments would drastically help Harden become even more popular than he already was. Some may think that the 2K company did not put Harden on the cover because he was in their group cover for NBA2K 16. That makes no sense because they put Anthony Davis on the cover of NBA2K 20, and he was also on the same NBA2K 16 group cover. 

With that said, all of Harden’s accomplishments and his popularity outweighed every other possibility. Harden deserved to be on the cover of NBA 2K19.


For NBA 2K20, the cover star was Anthony Davis. 


This must be 2K’s worst cover star decisions on this list. This cover was based on the 2018-2019 season in which Davis would get injured and only play 56 games. Even though he was an all-star, the Pelicans finished 13th in the Western Conference, and Davis did not play enough games to come close to winning MVP or push his team to a last-minute playoff hopeful. 

On the other hand, Antetokounmpo would win his first MVP and lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 60-22 record, the best record of that year’s season. Since Harden would have been on the cover of NBA 2K19 in my world and many others close to Giannis have had their covers, there are not any real arguments against Antetokounmpo being the cover star of NBA 2K19

The only slight possibilities are Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, or Joel Embiid. All those players were not as famous as Antetokounmpo, did not have as much team success as him, and put up worse stats than he did. 

Antetokounmpo deserved to be the cover star of NBA 2K20. Since the 2K company put him on the NBA 2K19 cover in real life and Kawhi Leonard supposedly refused to be on the cover this year, this would still lead to Jokic deserving to be on the cover of NBA 2K20. Although Jokic was less popular than Davis, Jokic playing more games and leading the Nuggets to a 54-28 record outweighs Davis’ popularity.

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-Kyle – Franchise Sports Media

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