With the 2018-19 NBA season now over, it's time to countdown the days until NBA 2K20 releases. Though there's been no announcement as to who will be gracing the cover, it's safe to say it will likely be 2x NBA Champ and Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard.
In years past, the NBA 2K franchise series has seen numerous current players and legends grace the various editions of the game, but who are the best of the best? Well, we'll be looking at the last 10 cover athletes to grace the front of the NBA 2K series and ranking them from worst to best.
10 Blake Griffin
Remember the early Los Angeles Clippers days for Blake Griffin where it seemed like every 3rd possession ended in an alley-oop dunk from Chris Paul to Griffin? Well, Griffin is now a member of the Detroit Pistons, and despite battling injuries he managed to carry a lackluster roster into the NBA Playoffs. Griffin and his Clippers teammates were the perfect examples of a team who was just not good enough to get over the NBA Conference Finals hump.
Despite the lack of Playoff success, Griffin has had a solid career, with plenty of years left in the tank to chase an NBA Championship.
9 Anthony Davis
Imagine being the most skilled big in the NBA and being able to post tremendous statistical averages for the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis had done that for the last 6+ years before getting his wish granted as he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The big knocks against Davis are that he's never even sniffed playoff success or wins in general, and many considered him a great player that can't elevate his teammates. Now in Los Angeles, he has a chance to show the world just how good he is, while also playing alongside an all-time great in LeBron James.
8 Paul George
Paul George was an underrated phenom while playing for the Indiana Pacers, and despite suffering a gruesome injury while he was still a part of that organization, he's managed to return to superstar form for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Often considered a great scorer, George is also one of the league's best defenders, and many felt he made a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season. George lacks the championships and hardware to move him higher on this list, but that doesn't mean he isn't one of the league's best.
7 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is clearly one of the best players in the NBA, but a recent string of personality-driven issues in both Cleveland and Boston have raised question marks about the incredible point guard.
After demanding a trade out of Cleveland due to Irving wanting to lead his own team out from under LeBron James shadow, Irving saw an entire Boston Celtics roster and organization sour on his supposed selfish and flippant behaviors. With rumors all but confirming that he's signing with the Brooklyn Nets, can Irving compete in the Eastern Conference without Kevin Durant on his team?
6 Derrick Rose
If you're even a casual fan of the NBA you'll know the rise and tragic fall of the superstar turned redemptive veteran known as Derrick Rose. As a young Chicago Bulls point guard Rose managed to lead an impressive defensive Bulls team on the way to capturing his own MVP award.
Shortly afterward, Rose suffered a severe knee injury and with a string of injuries that followed, his career turned. He went from being a future NBA great to a guy possibly on the roster bubble. In 2018, Rose pulled off an emotional 50-point game for the Timberwolves and inspired those who must overcome adversity.
5 Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably now a Top 5 player in the NBA and thanks to a newly acquired MVP award, he's sitting in the driver seat of his own destiny. Though Giannis managed to take the Milwaukee Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019, he now understands that he must get better.
His lack of midrange and 3-point shot allowed the Toronto Raptors to locked down the Bucks offense and make them predictable. Giannis is a smart young player that will likely spend most of the 2019 NBA offseason developing his shot.
4 James Harden
Out of the MVP winners who have graced the NBA 2K cover, Harden has had the most consistent career so far, excluding the playoffs. The other MVP award winners preceding him on this list have also not won an NBA Championship, but in the case of Derrick Rose, Harden's been able to avoid the unlucky tole of injuries Rose fell victim to.
As far as Giannis goes, well Harden's simply been great for a longer period of time. If Harden can add an NBA Championship to his resume in the coming years he could drastically change his legacy.
3 Kevin Durant
As Kevin Durant begins his road to recovery after suffering a torn Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, fans and teams alike are unsure what he'll be like when fully healthy. Will Durant return to form as if nothing happened, or will his game be affected and thus his career go down a different trajectory?
It's tough to call at this time, but with 2 NBA Championships and 2 Finals MVP awards, it's hard not to put him at the #3 spot. If his career ended and he never stepped on the court again, he'd be a hall of fame player.
2 Steph Curry
Steph Curry takes the spot over Kevin Durant for two particular reasons. The first is that he's fully healthy whereas Durant recently suffered a torn Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals that will likely cost him an entire NBA season. Curry also has more titles and led a team to championships, whereas Durant won all of his titles alongside Curry in Golden State.
If Durant was healthy and he won another Finals MVP, it would be hard to not put him above Curry, but as it sits the chef is coming in as the 2nd best NBA 2K cover athlete of the last 10 years.
1 LeBron James
Considered by some as the all-time greatest NBA player ever, and most as at least the 2nd or 3rd best, LeBron James is easily the best NBA 2K cover athlete of the last 10 years. Despite suffering his first major injury in the NBA during his 15th season in the league, by the time it's all done and he retires he will be considered at the very worst the 2nd best player ever in the NBA.
Now, with the Los Angeles Lakes, James is looking to secure more titles with the addition of Anthony Davis and possibly another star before the next season kicks off.