NBA 2K14 is now available in stores, offering a number of new features that will have you storming the court with your favorite squads, from the Miami Heat to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The thing is, though, some squads are clearly better than others. Where the Heat had no problem finding its groove with two consecutive championships, the Lakers, by comparison, got lost a bit under the tutelage of Mike D'Antoni – who clearly isn't a Phil Jackson type.
So, if you're up for the challenge of turning a team around into a true contender, we've got ten selections with which you can try your luck. They'll take a lot of work to turn around, but with the right settings and play style, who knows? The Lakers could be hot once again. Maybe.
Los Angeles Lakers
Probably one of the most beleaguered teams this past year, the Lakers ran into all sorts of trouble. Even with Kobe Bryant still delivering a powerhouse performance, he couldn't fix the problems with D'Antoni's coaching style or Dwight Howard's attempt to fit into the configuration. However, D'Antoni may have some new plays, and Howard's moved over to the Rockets, so maybe the Lakers can get back to full speed – with your help, of course.
Even though they were moderately hot in the 2011-2012 season in the first round of the playoffs, the Utah Jazz hasn't found their groove since. They were able to get a moderate win record this past season, but still couldn't reflect the same era as "The Mailman" Karl Malone did years ago. Plus, with the loss of both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in the off-season, they could be facing a huge uphill climb.
The 76ers finished with a lowly 34-48 record last season, running into problems both offensively and defensively. That was mostly due to losing players to injury, including Andrew Bynum, who started out promising but ended up sitting out the entire season due to surgery on both knees. With his return, the team could return to contention, but they might need to shake off some rust first. Maybe you can help with that.
The Bucks have seen better days. They finished the season below .500, barely scraping into the playoffs – only to be easily eliminated by the Heat in a 0-4 run. As a result, head coach Scott Skiles was fired, and replaced by ex-Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew. The team is in a rebuilding phase, which could make them questionable when it comes to reaching the championship round. Still, it's worth a try, especially with O.J. Mayo in the squad.
A number of superstars have played with the Magic over the years, including Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal, but they're long gone, leaving the team wondering just how they can recapture that, well, magic. Still, when you're at the bottom, the only way you can go is up. With the help of Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Victor Oladipo joining the squad, and great players like Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson on the squad, they could see a return to greatness.
Not only do the Suns fans miss Steve Nash – who took off to join the Lakers – but the management does as well. The team ended with a miserable 25-57 record this past year, That led to a shuffling in coaching staff following the end of the season, as well as the recruitment of new players through the draft. With such new talent, it'll be hard for them to find a suitable replacement for Nash. Stranger things have happened, though.
The Kings already went through a bunch of off-season turmoil after their owner attempted – and failed – to relocate the team. Thankfully, they're staying put, but they're running into frustrations, as their 2013 season ended with a lackluster 28-54 record. Maybe this'll be the year they bounce back, particularly with the help of new owners, newcomer Ben McLemore and a squad that includes Isaiah Thomas and Carl Landry. Let's see if they can lead the turn-around.
For a good amount of time, the Bobcats have been the laughing stock of the NBA, with "worst in the league" records for three years running, from 2010 to 2012, and a lowly 21-61 finish this past year, despite a hot 7-5 start for the season. With Michael Jordan himself as team owner, though, changes are sure to come, and who knows? You could lead their squad to glory once more. Just be prepared to overcome a lot of odds.
The Raptors are in a bit of a rebuilding phase, which started back in 2010. They attempted to get a bunch of free agents at the time, but they were lured away to more competitive teams like the Heat. As a result, Toronto's reputation has suffered, especially with last season's win-loss record. Still, a lot of those wins were at home, and the team did add some new players in the off-season, including Austin Daye, Tyler Hansbrough and Dwight Buycks, so they might just find their winning streak yet.
Ever since they changed their name from the Bullets, the Wizards have failed to conjure a winning record. For the past five seasons, the team has hung around the lower end of the NBA, with this past season ending at 29-53. However, with such talent as Nene, John Wall and Trevor Ariza in the squad, you might be able to find the necessary chemistry to get them to the playoffs and beyond. Good luck!
NBA 2K14 is available now for Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3. Be sure to check out our top teams article as well!