The hype for the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns is real, and it is not confined to the scorching borders of Suns Nation.
The multiple strategic moves that James Jones have made waves throughout the NBA community. Phoenix, which we knew was a player destination after Chris Paul forced his way here in the fall of 2020, is at the top of the list for multiple players. Durant is here. Beal is here. The Suns have built, and they have come.
There are multiple ways to become a destination. The obvious is to do what Mat Ishbia has done in tending to his role at the head of the organization by taking care of players past and present. Focus on the fan experience. Put the team on local TV. Construct a product that develops generational loyalty.
The byproduct of all these things? Fun basketball. Consumable basketball. Playable basketball? Yes, in the world of NBA2K, the Suns are playable and their exposure in the virtual world should not be discounted.
Do you know one thing that plenty of players do in their spare time? Play NBA2K. The video game franchise, which sold 11 million copies of last year’s version that sported Devin Booker as the cover athlete, is a juggernaut of an experience to play and entertaining for even the most casual gamer.
So while it might just be a video game for some, it is a way of life for the young adults who play professional basketball. Kids throughout the world play the game as well, and if you’re looking to gain notoriety with the younger generation, put forth a team that they chose to play with on the video game.
This season, it’d be hard not to choose Phoenix.
The Suns have an overall team rating of 84 in the newest edition in the 2K franchise, which ties them with the Boston Celtics as the highest rated team in the game.
Led by Kevin Durant’s 96 overall rating, and supported by Devin Booker’s 94 and Bradley Beal’s 87, the team carries a higher rating than the classic team available in the game. The 2004-05 Suns are 81 overall, and the 2002-03 Suns are at 79. Why there isn’t a 1992-93 Suns team in this game is downright wrong, and it’s a question I need to get to the bottom of, as well as to why Booker isn’t a 95 in the game like other notable players.
Enter Ronnie 2K.
Ronnie Singh, who 2Kers know as Ronnie 2K, is the Head of Lifestyle & Content Marketing for 2K Games. He is a content creator, podcaster, and brand ambassador. Whenever the newest version of 2K hits the shelves, it’s Ronnie who gets all of the flak when someone isn’t happy with their rating. He’s in the game himself in the MyCareer mode and is known throughout the NBA as an avid Kevin Durant supporter.
I recently had an interview with Ronnie to ask him about 2K24, the Suns offseason and how it is being portrayed in the game, why isn’t Booker on the same level as Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic, and Jayson Tatum, and what's up with no 1993 Suns?
John Voita: The team as a whole has an 84 overall rating, which is tied for the best in the game with the Celtics. Do you feel this is an accurate depiction? Are the Suns the second best team in the league? Or just the video game?
Ronnie 2K: It’s funny, I’ve been asked who I think my Finals matchup will be and you just named the two teams that I think are going to be in the Finals. That’s what I believe. Now, I think it’s starts with obviously your top two guys being a 96 and 94 in KD and Devin Booker, and obviously the huge acquisition of Bradley Beal, whose historically has such a great rating our game. And then the big guy, Deandre Ayton. That’s a great nucleus.
But as you learned last year, like, when that team that’s so top heavy, you’ve to obviously support it with role players and they did a tremendous job kind of reworking the roster and building one of the best teams, 1 to 12, in the league. So I think the 2K rating, you know, shows that, supports that, and I think Suns fans have a lot to be excited about.
JV: Bradley is an 87. We’ll get him up to a 90. He’ll keep playing hard.
R2K: Yeah, he’s been an 89 before. I think in the middle of one year he hopped up into the 90’s. Great player. He’s going to be such a beast for the Suns. Really looking forward to his addition.
JV: Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic, and Jayson Tatum are all at 95 overall in NBA2K24. What do we have to do to get Devin Booker a 95 overall rating? Can we know Chimezie Metu down a couple of points so it all evens out?
R2K: Former cover guy, right? I love Devin. Everybody knows that.
I think what hurt Devin this year was, he had a huge few playoff games there, but just the length of it. And that wasn't really his fault, right? He didn’t get to showcase and put up 40 point games in the playoffs ever single game like he was doing, and that I think ultimately worked against him. Especially when other guys in the playoffs were having these remarkable long runs. And again, not his fault.
I think Devin is right there on the precipice, I think seeing him kind together and gel with KD with a full year with Kevin and the rest of those pieces, I think there’s no doubt by the end of the season Dev will be looking at a 95.
JV: Suns’ brass has announced that they’re going to do the position-less basketball approach, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker are both going to be doing a lot of point guard distribution, how’s it going to look in the video game? You still have to slot them into a position. Is it Point Beal or Point Booker?
R2K: I believe it’s Point Beal, because they did announce that, and that’s their intention, right? To start with him at point.
I think what make sour video game great is that those kind of teams are super fun to play in our game. I remember putting James Harden at point and what that did for that team a couple years ago. That team was just so much fun to play with because your ball handler being able to do everything — score, distribute — it just makes for a fun video game team.
I don’t think you lose in 2K with either of those guys at point.
JV: Five years ago no one was picking the Suns in 2K, now everybody will.
R2K: That’s true. I was picking them though! Always a fun team to play with. Definitely put up a lot of points. And this is going to be a really fun year to play as the Suns.
JV: Outside of the All-Time team, the classic Suns teams include the 2005 Suns and the 2003 team. We need the 1993 Suns in the game.
R2K: We always have the conversations every year. We definitely want to give our consumers what they want. We’ll have to see. You guys will know when we announce that.
JV: It’s okay to admit it: you’re low-key a Suns fan, right?
R2K: It’s funny, I did go to a bunch of games last year, obviously to support Devin as cover athlete. It’s very well documented that Kevin Durant’s my favorite player in the league and I love to watch him play. I’m from the Bay so him being the Warriors, while everyone else hated it, I really enjoyed it because I got to watch him play up close all the time.
Love the Phoenix area, so I’ll definitely be out there to support him and the rest of the Suns this season.
JV: Appreciate the time. Come out and see us, we’ll get you one of those new modern sunburst jerseys that they just released.
R2K: Yeah, those are dope.
The game itself is highly anticipated and, seeing as it’s 2K24, will feature one of the most influential players to ever don the jersey number as the cover athlete: the late Kobe Bryant.
This surely will sit on the shelf of Devin Booker as the Black Mamba was someone he admired, with the “Be legendary” that Kobe was signed for Booker tatted on his arm and written on every pair of shoes he plays in. Which are typically Kobe Protro 5’s or 6’s.
NBA2K24 will be released on September 8, but you can (as I have) pre-order the game now. A fun year of playing as the Suns on NBA2K lies ahead of us.