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The sports data crowd calls basketball a strong link sport. Unlike other team sports like soccer, where it’s often the mistakes made by the weakest players on a team that decide the outcome of a match, the NBA is a venue for the very best players to just take over. Giannis can simply take over a game and force his way to the rim, possession after possession. Steph can keep shooting threes until his Warriors are out of sight. James Harden will shamelessly Euro-step his way to the foul line all night. They’re the strong links of their team, and they have a massive say on the outcome of a game.

As I’m writing this, the Heat and Nuggets are tied 1-1 in the 2023 playoff finals. Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler are leading the charge for their teams, making big contributions just as they did throughout the regular season, and if they stay healthy, they’ll likely be the deciding factors of these finals. What I’m trying to say is: I made a roster on NBA 2K23 where the Heat are just five Jimmy Butlers and the Nuggets are five Nikola Jokics and then watched the finals play out.