NBA 2K22 is set to release on September 10th, 2021, and we still haven't had any gameplay concept video or official trailer yet. Rumors suggest that 2K Sports is skipping the demo release as well to focus on the final product.
Given that we don't have any NBA action for another two months or so, fans and players are doubling down on the 2K22 hype. Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and several superstars have reacted to their ratings and generated buzz about whether 2K Sports have messed up the player ratings this year.
In fact, even the Chicago Bulls chimed in with their discontent regarding their star shooting guard, Zach LaVine's ratings.
2K Sports have downgraded the ratings of most star players this season. LeBron James started 2K21 with a 98 rating which eventually came down to 97 because of his injury, but he is starting NBA 2K22 with a 96 rating.
Similarly for Stephen Curry, who was the highest-rated player last year with 97, alongside James, but will start 2K22 with 96. Surprisingly, even the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic suffered a one-point downgrade from NBA 2K21.
That has, predictably, left fans upset at the game developers who are nerfing the stars whom fans love playing with. On that note, here's a look at five improvements or changes fans expect in NBA 2K22:
#1 NBA 2K needs to bring back the Jordan Challenges or have a separate feature to pick any iconic game
An exciting feature in NBA 2K11 was the Jordan Challenges. A gamer had to complete a set of challenges that were essentially highlights of Michael Jordan's career.
For example, the first challenge, titled "The Arrival", is one where the gamer needed to recreate the 1986 NBA playoff game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls and drop 63 points while shooting 50%+ from the field.
Another challenge is the 'Double Nickel', where the gamer had to recreate Jordan's 55-point outburst in Madison Square Garden and complete the goals like dropping 55+ points, shoot 55%+ from the field and win the game.
There were other challenges like the famous 'Flu Game', 'The Shrug' and 'Michael's Last Dance', and a few more. Gamers could walk in Michael Jordan's shoes and revisit some of the iconic moments of the Hall of Famer's career.
NBA 2K22 should absolutely bring back this feature, as it was a delight for fans.
Even if 2K Sports don't want to re-introduce the Jordan Challenges, one would love to drop 12 threes and the game-winner against OKC Thunder with Stephen Curry or score 60 points in their final NBA game like Kobe Bryant. Different versions of the MyTeam Challenges exist, but there should be a dedicated section where fans can simply pick and choose an iconic game they would want to revisit.
Getting the opportunity to play as your favorite player and doing what they did is something every 2K gamer would love.
#2 NBA 2K22 needs to add more Classic Teams
It is flabbergasting to think that there is no version of the No. 24 Kobe Bryant in the Classic Teams section despite the LA Lakers going to three straight NBA Finals and winning two championships in 2009 and 2010.
The last LA Lakers' Classic Team is the 2003-04 squad with Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, but that was No. 8 Kobe Bryant. If anyone wants to play as one of the Black Mamba's Lakers teams, you cannot choose one without O'Neal and only pick the No. 8 version.
Don't get us wrong, No. 8 Kobe was a beast, but it is a massive disappointment that if someone wishes to play with the Paul Gasol and No. 24 Bryant, they cannot. The All-Time LA Lakers feature No. 24 Kobe, and that is it. Moreover, even the 2008-09 Orlando Magic that went to the NBA Finals is not there.
Every gamer will agree that NBA 2K needs to introduce more Classic Teams. We won't even get into the fact that legends like Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller are missing from the game because it's a lost cause at this point.
However, the fact that one cannot play with the 2010 Lakers or the 2009 Cavaliers is wrong. These are just some of the recent Classic teams that we have mentioned., But if we dig deeper into the history of the league, several great teams from the 1980s and 90s are also missing.
NBA 2K20 should also include the USA Olympic teams like the 1992 Dream Team or the 2008 Redeem Team.
#3 Perimeter defense and crossovers need to improve in NBA 2K22
It is true that in basketball, great offense will always trump great defense, but perimeter defense in recent NBA 2K versions was heavily nerfed. Be it Jrue Holiday or Gary Payton, Kawhi Leonard or Scottie Pippen, the smallest of guards will blow by them. The 'Clamps' badge will certainly show up, but many gamers would agree that it is meaningless.
2K Sports need to improve its perimeter defense in NBA 2K22 and not make it such that every guard has his way in the game. Some of these players were excellent perimeter stoppers in their day. If I'm picking legends like Payton or Pippen, I expect to get defensive stops and not stand around while everyone blows by me or implausibly breaks my ankles.
Moreover, part of the reason why perimeter defenders now look foolish is that the crossover animation in NBA 2K is wildly over the top in any difficulty mode. A simple behind the back or between-the-legs crossover would land the ball-handler almost three to four feet away from the defender, which is simply unrealistic.
#4 NBA 2K22 needs to add the 3-point and Slam Dunk Contest in the Play Now section
If you get a chance to enter a three-point contest with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Duncan Robinson, James Harden, Joe Harris and Damian Lillard, wouldn't you do it?
The easiest way to play the three-point or slam dunk contest is entering 'My League' and playing the regular season to eventually participate in the All-Star game events. Sure, one can skip the first half of the season and go straight to the All-Star game, but wouldn't it be easier to just include these hyped up competitions in the Play Now section in NBA 2K22?
Similarly, for the Slam Dunk Contest, everyone would love to play with Zion Williamson and go head-to-head with Zach LaVine or see LeBron James for the first time in the competition and have him compete against Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady.
#5 NBA 2K22 needs to add celebrities courtside
A major part of the hype around the NBA are the celebrity attractions and all the fame and glamor that comes with it.
If I'm playing an NBA Finals game at the Staples Center, I would expect to see Jay-Z or Denzel Washington courtside. Understandably, adding every celebrity fan is far-fetched, and 2K Sports might not be able to get licenses for everyone. But we can certainly expect to see Jack Nicholson at Staples Center or Spike Lee at the Madison Square Garden in NBA 2K22.
They are some of the biggest fans of the NBA, and certainly deserve a spot in the league's biggest video game. Surely Drake would love to see his virtual self sitting courtside in a Toronto Raptors game, or similarly Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart for their hometown franchises. It's not a major improvement required in NBA 2K22, but would be certainly a fun one.