'NBA 2K18' simulation has Thunder winning championship, Warriors losing in first round

Predicting the upcoming NBA season is hard. You know what isn't hard? Letting "NBA 2K18" do all that for us. 

However, before we can get to 2K's predictions on who will dominate the upcoming season, we should talk about the game itself first.

"NBA 2K18" is proving to be the best game in the entire franchise. This gets said every year with each new release and it feels almost like parroting at this point, but this is an iteration that may bring back many fans that have started to feel a little burnt on the series. People like me.

As 2K has improved every year, it has also made changes that took away from some of the fun in playing the game. The gameplay style went from smooth and quick to a very methodical pace with a little bit of delay between movement. This made gameplay frustrating at times for basketball fans that wanted to go out there and run their opponent off the floor, or maybe even emulate today's Warriors teams. However, this year's game has perfectly captured speed and momentum. The quick players feel fast, the slow players lumber around, and LeBron James moves around with force.

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NBA 2K gameplay

Most people call 2K the most realistic basketball simulation around and it definitely looks the part. Graphics are clean and this truly does feel like a next generation game making the PS4 and Xbox One versions the clearly superior versions of the game.

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2K gameplay screenshot
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2K gameplay screenshot

So the game looks and feels great, but how accurate is its actual simulation of a single season? Here's a few highlights.

All-Star Game Rosters

EAST

LeBron James, Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Hassan Whiteside, D'Angelo Russell, DeMar DeRozan, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Vucevic

WEST

Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, CJ McCollum, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Eric Bledsoe

Most of the names that one would expect to be in the All-Star Game are here, but it gets fun when the reserve selections start coming in. 'NBA 2K18' is predicting that Lillard will avoid a snub this time around along with some new faces such as McCollum, Bledsoe and Jokic.

The East roster is really anybody's guess. Everyone knows the conference is going to be weak this year, but it was definitely a surprise to see Whiteside and Vucevic make their first All-Star teams. The Russell selection seems like a shocker as well, but he's always a good level player in the 2K games. Call me a skeptic, but these probably won't be the main rosters come February.

Dunk and 3-point contests

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2K gameplay screenshot

The simulated dunk contest lineup includes: Marquese Chriss, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Daniel Theis and Ben Simmons. 

They messed this one up. No offense to any of these fine dunkers, but any simulated dunk contest that doesn't feature Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine is just wrong and needs to be re-done.  

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2K gameplay screenshot

The 3-point contest lineup includes: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson and Kyle Lowry.

This is more like it, and looks like a heck of a good time for the viewer. There's a lot more star power here and the big names alone would make it a selling point. The dunk contest doesn't need big names as much as the 3-point contest, but it needs a better list than what it offers here. 

Rising Stars game

(Full rosters in no particular order:)

Malcom Brogdon, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Taurean Prince, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr, Donovan Mitchell, Jonathon Isaac, Dario Saric, Zach Collins

Joel Embiid, John Collins, Willy Hernangomez, Malcom Delaney, Caris Levert, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Ivica Zubac, Lonzo Ball, Buddy Hield

Honestly, the Rising Stars game could really go either way. Sometimes it's a good precedent to who the future stars are, but then there are years where the big-time future stars get left out. Nothing to really agree or disagree with here.

Final Standings

Now, for the real interest in this whole experiment. In one season of simulation, we find out who came out on top in the regular season for both conferences, won the NBA title and racked up all the awards. Some of these are predictable, but in a way, only 2K can this season got wild and hilarious.

East

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2K gameplay screenshot
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2K gameplay screenshot

Final East standings, (according to the 2K simulation):

  1. x - Cleveland Cavaliers (47-35)
  2. x - Detroit Pistons (46-36)
  3. x - Washington Wizards (45-37)
  4. x - Toronto Raptors (43-39)
  5. x - Milwaukee Bucks (43-39)
  6. x - Philadelphia 76ers (43-39)
  7. x - Charlotte Hornets (42-40)
  8. x - Boston Celtics (39-43)
  9.      Miami Heat (34-48)
  10.      Chicago Bulls (36-46)
  11.      Brooklyn Nets (34-48)
  12.      New York Knicks (32-50)
  13.      Orlando Magic (31-51)
  14.      Indiana Pacers (30-52)
  15.      Atlanta Hawks (27-55)

(Quick side note: During this simulation the Cavaliers weren't always at the top of the East. They spent most the year hovering around .500 before a late push got them to the 1-seed. Meanwhile, the Celtics didn't even have a spot in the playoffs until the very end of the season as they snuck into the 8-seed. They weren't injured or anything. It appears 2K just doesn't like the Celtics.)

It seems unlikely that nobody in the entire Eastern Conference will win 50 games this season, but this is supposed to be a very down year for the East so anything can happen. However, it would be quite a jump from the Pistons to make it all the way to the second seed, even in a down year. 

West

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2K gameplay screenshot
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2K gameplay screenshot

Final West standings, (according to the 2K simulation):

  1. x - Golden State Warriors (63-19)
  2. x - Houston Rockets (55-27)
  3. x - Los Angeles Clippers (55-27)
  4. x - Oklahoma City Thunder (53-29)
  5. x - Denver Nuggets (46-36)
  6. x - Utah Jazz (43-39)
  7. x - San Antonio Spurs (43-39)
  8. x - Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40)
  9.      New Orleans Pelicans (41-41)
  10.      Portland Trail Blazers (40-42)
  11.      Sacramento Kings (39-43)
  12.      Memphis Grizzlies (37-45)
  13.      Phoenix Suns (36-46)
  14.      Dallas Mavericks (31-51)
  15.      Los Angeles Lakers (30-52)

In the West, things make a little bit more sense. Most of the teams are hovering around where one would expect them to be. The Nuggets might be a little high as the 5-seed, but them winning 46 games wouldn't be unthinkable either. However, I'd personally flip the Spurs and Clippers records. Those feel off.

What really shows through is the dominance of the entire conference. The Lakers finished last in the West with a 30-win season, which just goes to show how strong the conference is expected to be this season. The continuity in this simulation appears to be that the East is unpredictable while the West goes chalk. Until the playoffs.

The 2017-18 NBA champions are ...

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2K gameplay screenshot
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2K gameplay screenshot

The Oklahoma City Thunder win the championship, according to to "NBA 2K18" simulation, edging the Washington Wizards in the Finals, 4-1.

Paul George isn't going anywhere and it only took Russell Westbrook one season longer to win his first title. OKC defeating Washington is not as exciting as one would hope NBA Finals. George won Finals MVP, and it's hard to see a scenario where he leaves after this.

The bracket itself is incredible. Nevermind that neither the Cavaliers nor Warriors made it back, or that this is the Wizards first time making it past the second round since the 70s. Golden State lost in the very first round -- as the 1-seed -- to the Timberwolves. Everything about the West made at least some bit of sense up to this point. This, however, blew my mind and it only gets better when looking at the regular season awards.

Notable Awards

MVP - Stephen Curry

Coach of the Year - Steve Kerr

Most Improved Player - Karl-Anthony Towns

Defensive Player of The Year - Andre Drummond

Rookie of the Year - Lonzo Ball

Sixth Man of the Year - Jeremy Lin

Trades and Firings

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2K gameplay screenshot
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2K gameplay screenshot
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2K gameplay screenshot

A season this weird can only be capped off by the Lakers firing Luke Walton after finishing dead-last. Call me a skeptic, but I have a hard time believing that 2K will accurately predict the entire season. That said, maybe a few of these outcomes will come true. If that's the case, then Thunder fans will have a lot to be excited about.

Check out our review on "NBA 2K18" MyCareer and MyGM modes.

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