Anthony Davis on the cover of NBA 2K16 is a really big deal. He is the youngest player to grace the cover since Chris Paul, who was also just 22 years old when he was on the 2K8 cover. The Madden cover curse is well-documented on the football side. I wanted to take a look if there is anything similar to be concerned about as New Orleans fans.
Allen Iverson was the face of NBA 2K for the first five editions. During that span Iverson made the All-Star team all five years, won the MVP in 2001, made All-NBA First Team once, and All-NBA Second Team three times. Considering the relative talent level of those Philadelphia teams, and the extremely heavy load Iverson was required to bear each season, his health was pretty remarkable. Iverson averaged at least 40 minutes per game every year while he was the cover athlete. In his final year on the cover, the 2004 edition named ESPN NBA Basketball, Iverson would play just 48 games.
ESPN NBA 2K5:
Coming off an NBA Finals victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Ben Wallace and the Detroit Pistons were on their way up. His 2005 performance was equally impressive; an appearance in the 2005 All-Star Game, selection to the All-NBA Third Team, All-Defensive First Team, and to top it off Wallace won his third Defensive Player of the Year award. The Pistons would reach the NBA Finals for a second consecutive season, falling to the San Antonio Spurs in seven hard fought (but hardly watched) games.
Shaq's second season in Miami brought a ring to South Beach. Despite playing just 59 games O'Neal was selected to the All-Star Game, and as First Team All-NBA. This was the first year in Shaq's career he did not register a share of the MVP vote; breaking a 13 year streak.
At this point he was becoming a shell of himself and Dwyane Wade was incapable of pulling an aging roster back into contention. O'Neal played just 40 games, the fewest he would appear in until his final season in Boston.
Paul authored a masterpiece and really should have won the MVP. CP3 won player of the month in December and March while leading the then-New Orleans Hornets to a 56-26 record, the franchise's only division championship, and the number two seed in the Western Conference. Paul made his first All-Star Game, made the All-Defensive Second Team, the All-NBA First Team, and finished second in MVP voting. Speaking of the seven game series with the San Antonio Spurs is a sore spot for NOLA fans.
Garnett's second season in Boston is not nearly as successful as his first. He missed 25 games and the Celtics lost to Dwight Howard's Orlando Magic in the second round. 25 missed games would remain Garnett's career high until last year with the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers win their second consecutive championship with Bryant winning the Finals MVP. Despite a less efficient season (by Bryant's own standards in previous years) Kobe would make the All-Star Game, All-Defensive First Team, and All-NBA First Team. Bryant finished third in MVP voting.
2K11 and 2K12 did not feature active players. Instead the focus was on Michael Jordan (2K11 alone) and his predecessors; Larry Bird and Magic Johnson who were each featured along with Jordan on individual covers for 2K12.
Rose did not play a single game during the 2012-13 season. Woof.
Durant did not win the scoring title for the first time since 2009. However, he did finally achieve the 50/40/90 shooting line; which should be impossible considering his usage rate. Durant made the All-Star team, All-NBA First Team, and finished second in MVP voting. A Russell Westbrook knee injury in the playoffs sealed the Thunder's fate, they fell in the second round to the Memphis Grizzlies.
2013 was a step back for the Clippers power forward. Griffin set a career low in points per game, his only season below 20, averaging just 18.0 a game. He still started the All-Star Game and was selected to the All-NBA Second Team. A solid year no doubt, but considering his previous and subsequent seasons, a definite low point. The Clippers would not win a playoff series; the Grizzlies eliminated them in six games.
After winning back-to-back titles the Miami Heat were defeated in five games by a superior San Antonio Spurs team. The following summer James elected to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent. Individually LeBron continued to improve posting a career best 64.9% true shooting percentage. He was selected to the first team both for the All-Defensive and All-NBA teams. James finished second in MVP voting.
The reigning MVP had not missed significant time due to injury throughout his seven year career. His eighth, as the NBA 2K15 cover athlete, featured a battle with a Jones fracture in his right foot. Durant ended up missing 55 games and had three different surgeries to ultimately repair the injury.
Throughout the course of 16 covers and 16 different active basketball players there is quite the spread of achievements. Cover athletes have failed to make the playoffs two times; Allen Iverson in 2004 and Kevin Durant in 2015. Only one significant injury, to Durant this past year, was suffered during the season following selection. Cover athletes have won the championship twice; Shaq in 2006 and Kobe in 2010. In addition three other times cover athletes made it all the way to the Finals; Iverson in 2001, Wallace in 2005, and James in 2014.
There is no doubt that either Stephen Curry or James Harden are far more likely to make it to the Finals in 2016 than Anthony Davis. However, history tells us that the Pelicans should be in for a good year. Who's ready to run Alvin Gentry's playbook with AD?