Each Friday throughout the NBA Playoffs, we're pitting one of eight freakishly talented NBA players with his virtual counterpart in 2K Sports' "NBA 2K12" to see who's better, man or machine.
The line between video game and reality blurs with Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers' power forward with superhero abilities. In many ways Blake is almost a real-life “NBA Jam” character. His physics-defying jumping ability and arsenal of dunks, so thunderous they would make Thor jealous, don’t seem possible for a human being. So how does a sim like “NBA 2K12” try to properly capture “The Blake Show?” We traveled to virtual Lob City to find out.
Post Moves: Blake isn’t a one-trick pony. He scores on a lot of dunks but also has a few other tricks up his sleeves. As seen in the above video, "NBA 2K12" has given him a move in which he spins in the paint, misdirects his opponent, and tosses up a layup. Blake was given a 95 rating both for his Post Drive and Post Spin move, and those seem to reflect his real-life abilities.
Alley-oop Jam: They don’t call it Lob City for nothing. Throughout the season, Blake has been fed a steady diet of alley-oop opportunities from his teammates – especially Chris Paul. A successful oop isn’t easy to pull off in "NBA 2K12," but it can be done by holding the left trigger (L2 on PS3) and pressing the B button (circle on PS3). The result is often a big dunk from Blake, though few in "NBA 2K12" are as spectacular as his real-life highlights.
Rim Annihilation Dunk: This seems like the best term to describe Griffin’s power dunk. He flies into the lane, leaps into the air and throws down a dunk with the full force of his body into the basket. 2K Sports didn’t do a great job portraying dunks like these in "NBA 2K11," but there’s a better all-around dunk package in the 2K12 version.
In Your Face Tomahawk Jam: Some of Blake’s most YouTube-worthy dunks are the ones in which he stuffs it home in an opposing player’s face. A prime example was his facial on Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins this season. It's possible to rock and-one dunks in "2K12," but there's no play that quite matches up to the one on Perkins.
Oddly, "NBA 2K12" seems to have chintzed on Blake's air abilities. He was given only an 88 rating for his vertical leap, which seems criminally low for a man who jumped over a Kia in last year’s Slam Dunk Contest (see video above). He also tallied a meager 92 in dunking -- three points lower than LeBron James and Josh Smith. If anyone deserves a 99 in a category, it’s Blake for dunking. We also think his score for Athleticism should be bumped up from A-minus.
A ranking of 85 for Blake’s overall game sounds about right. The second-year player has struggled with his outside shooting and his free throws for most of the season, which accounts for the fact that he’s only the 19th-rated player in the league.
On the other hand, we’d like to see next year’s edition of NBA 2K to give much more credit to Blake’s otherworldly leaping and dunking abilities. It’s ironic to say that a video game should make a player play more like a video game, but it’s true.
We simulated the rest of the NBA playoffs with the Clippers and Blake managed a very productive second round. Although the Clippers ended up losing 4-1 to the top seeded Spurs, he personally had averaged 22.2 points and 8.4 rebounds on 48 percent shooting.