Friday, August 16, 2019

Can An Auto-Generated Superteam Beat Lonzo Ball and the Lakers?

Image result for lonzo ball super saiyan
This is an accurate representation of how good Lonzo was for me in NBA 2K19.

Each year I buy the newest iteration of NBA 2K, probably against my better judgement. As most know, at this point it's pretty much just a cash-grab rushed out to take advantage of the hype surrounding the upcoming NBA season. Microtransactions have ruined most of its game modes, and each year more features seem to be taken out than they are put in.

Luckily, the sole reason I play NBA 2K is for its MyLeague mode, which allows you to run all aspects of an NBA team for multiple decades, if you so choose. And thankfully, MyLeague continues to be updated on a yearly basis, unlike other 2K game modes that have been allowed to wither and die.

One of the things that I like to do is to construct unrealistic scenarios in MyLeague, and see how they play out over a few decades. The scenario this time was as follows: bend the rules to create a super superteam, and wait to see how long it took for the league to develop a team capable of beating it.

I started with the Lakers, and played out the first year normally, after which things became interesting. The first domino to fall came in the form of a miraculous trade: the Philadelphia 76ers offered me Ben Simmons for Brandon Ingram, straight up.

Now, mind you, I wasn't against forcing trades or otherwise gaming the system to create my super super team. But this one just happened to fall into my lap. In some ways it made sense, since Ingram was trending upwards, had developed a three point shot, and had been integral to my deep playoff run alongside Lonzo Ball and LeBron James.

But still, he was nowhere near as good as NBA 2K's version of Ben Simmons, who had been averaging nearly a triple double on insane efficiency. Obviously, I accepted that trade without a moment's hesitation.

Moving into the 2019 offseason, my superteam was beginning to take shape. LeBron was still rated at around 96. Lonzo Ball had made a miraculous jump to a 90 overall rating. With the 23rd pick I drafted an auto-generated rookie named Chao Battle, who had led the NCAA in scoring. He turned out to be an absolute steal, remaining at around a 93 overall rating for most of his career. Finally, to round out the roster, I had Ben Simmons and Kyle Kuzma, the latter of whom was an automatic 18 points per game.

The lineup of Ball, Battle, James, Simmons, and Kuzma would go on to dominate the league for nearly a decade. There were some parts that moved around here and there, but that would be the core until around the 2035 season. (If you're wondering, LeBron eventually left and finished his career in Cleveland, retiring in his mid-40s having surpassed Kareem in total points scored by around 7,000 points).

But this article isn't about the success of a superteam that I had rather unfairly cheated into existence. It's about the ways in which the 29 other CPU-led teams tried to defeat me.

The only team to consistently pose a threat to me from around 2020 to 2034 were the Boston Celtics. They weren't nearly as well-rounded as my Lakers were, and possessed nowhere near the overall star power.

However, they did possess one advantage. In the 2019 NBA draft, they selected with the first pick a beast of a power forward named Leslie Kirkland. Kirkland was projected by scouts to be the next Karl Malone, and he instantly met those expectations, coming into the league at around a 90 overall rating and a smattering of quality badges equipped. His first year, he averaged 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists with a shooting percentage of over 60%.

Despite Kirkland's brilliance, however, things didn't change for the Celtics overnight. In fact it wasn't until around 2023 that they began contending for championships. Ironically, at that point, almost no trace remained of Boston's vaunted young core from their 2018 playoffs run. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had both been shipped off to other teams, and generally were terrible based on their simulated averages.

Instead, Boston had decided to build entirely around Kirkland. They had no-where near the overall talent that my Lakers had, but they did draft and sign solid pieces to fill out their roster. Still, none of them were stars or memorable in and of themselves: their purpose was simply to compliment Kirkland, and they did that well.

By the 2025-2026 season, my Lakers had already won several championships. In fact, we won in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025. I was beginning to think that my experiment had failed. Maybe it was impossible for the other 29 teams in the league to defeat my ultimate superteam.

The 2026 NBA Finals proved me wrong. Going into it, I wasn't worried. How could a team like the Celtics, built around one guy, threaten my ultimate superteam? I was sure that these Finals would go just as the previous five had.

Leslie Kirkland proved me wrong. Now rated at a solid 95 overall and equipped with multiple hall-of-fame badges, Kirkland wrecked my frontcourt, which at the time consisted of Ben Simmons and Kyle Kuzma.

Should I have been more proactive about finding big men? Maybe, but I figured that I had too much talent to fail. Even though I knew Simmons and Kuzma could be bullied on the block, I figured that having four 90+ overall rated players in my starting lineup was enough to beat anybody. Especially since I had constructed my offensive system around the now god-like Lonzo Ball, who had won the MVP five straight years in a row averaging over 20 points, nearly 15 assists, and almost 10 rebounds. I played fast and quick, relying on my team's pace and accurate three point shooting to get the job done.

Unfortunately for me, the Kirkland-led Celtics played the exact style that countered my own. They played a switch-heavy defense and manned each position with quick, mobile players. While their offensive potential lagged behind my own, they were able to keep pace by throwing the ball to Kirkland, who could either bully his way to the basket or find the open man off of the double team.

The Celtic's speed and defensive ability was just good enough to slow down my Lonzo-powered offense, and because I had no defensive answer for Kirkland, I found myself at a disadvantage for the first time in years.

In the end, the Celtics beat me 4-2, with Kirkland averaging 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists. As expected, he won Finals MVP.

In the following years, the Kirkland Celtics would continue to be a thorn in my side, though they would never again defeat me in the Finals. Negating Kirkland was simple enough: all I needed was to sign a few big men who were also defensive specialists. They didn't have to be great, just good enough to give my offense the edge again in any potential match-up. This solution almost proved to be too successful, as no team really came close to challenging my dominance during the Lonzo era.

Leslie Kirkland ended up retiring at the age of 42, having won only a single championship in 2026 at 26 years old.

My Lonzo Lakers ended up petering out around 2035, primarily because my main core of Ball, Battle, and Simmons were quickly declining. Ball finished his career with over twenty combined MVPs and Championships. The cherry on top came in his last regular season game, where he finally surpassed John Stockton to become the NBA's all-time leading assists leader.

This, however, is not the end of the story. I would go on to replace my Lonzo superteam with one that would be even more devastating. They too, however, would eventually be defeated by an auto-generated superteam so powerful that I suspect it existed primarily as a means for the CPU to get back at me for my years of cheating the system to make my team artificially unfair (not unlike Agent Smith's role against Neo in The Matrix).

But I'll save that story for another day...

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