Over the past few years, answers have gone from deep sighs at another crappy year to quiet optimism hoping for a competitive team. The Blazers missed the playoffs last year for the fifth straight year, but their 41-41 record came without injured No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden. Oden’s back this year, along with rookies Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Fernandez.
ESPN’s season preview lists the Blazers as 13th best in the 30-team league, while a USA Today preview vaulted them to an almost unthinkable fifth. Are the Blazers really going to be that good?
How the hell should we know? But, being gigantic nerds, we do know that the wonderful world of video games gives an incredibly detailed breakdown of the NBA.
NBA Live 09, produced by gaming giant Electronic Arts, has long dominated the basketball-game market, despite clunky mechanics and inferior graphics. NBA 2K9, produced by struggling Take-Two Interactive, has a stronger hoops game but frustratingly uneven presentation.
While we find the games a draw overall (2K9 feels a bit more like a simulation while Live leans toward the arcade end of the spectrum), there’s a definite deal-breaker for us: Which game is better to our Blazers? We found out by checking the look, the feel and the predictions hidden within the two titles. Game on!
THE GOOD STUFF
Live 09Block parties: Joel Przybilla hasn’t had this much hair or rise since high school, but damn if it isn’t fun to reject shots with him in Live.
Sky’s the limit: Travis Outlaw can almost dunk from the free-throw line in Live, and he’s money on a fast break.
Makin’ it rain: It’s comical how many 3-pointers one can hit in a row in Live. Even Steve Blake can become a dominant scorer from behind the arc.
NBA 2k9Oden smash!: His body becomes an uppercase “C” and the whole court shakes when he dunks. Just like real life!
The Spanish connection: No one sees that Sergio Rodriguez-to-Rudy Fernandez alley-oop coming, and it’s fun to sing, “Olé, olé, olé, olé!” afterward.
Rolling with Roy: Brandon Roy has historically been a video-game bust, but 2K9 gives him the right balance of power and finesse.
THE NEW GUYS
Live 09Bayless: Preseason rating: 68 out of a max of 99. As his rating would suggest, Bayless isn’t great in Live, though he is quick.
Fernandez: Preseason rating: 72. The 72 rating is a little deceiving—most things you can do with B-Roy, you can do with Rudy.
Oden: Preaseason rating: 79. He can feel a little sluggish, but he uses his length more successfully than in 2K9.
NBA 2k9Bayless: Preseason rating: 79 out of 100. Streaky with his 3-pointers but fantastic driving the lane. And he always looks very serious.
Fernandez: Preseason rating: 79. An absolute scoring beast and flashy passer. You can take over a game with Rudy.
Oden: Preseason rating: 83. Not the shot-blocking force you’d expect, but they gave him a godly inside game.