Devin Booker has just been minted as the cover athlete of NBA 2K23. The prestigious video game franchise often incites plenty of public opinions so it’s no surprise that we can already prognosticate as to who will be next year’s (standard) cover athlete: The NBA 2K24 cover. The NBA odds have a two-way tie between back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and the NBA’s fastest-rising superstar, Ja Morant. We think the real betting value is on a longshot.
A Young Man’s Game?
It’s obvious why Morant is one of the favorites to grace the (standard) NBA 2K24 cover: he’s currently the hottest player in the league. At 23 years old, he’s also a Gen Zer and can capture the attention of 2K24 players of his generation.
The age is not just a number here. The majority of 2K cover athletes have been aged 26 and under. Damian Lillard and LeBron James were the only exceptions in the past decade – not counting NBA 2K12 honoring past legends like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson.
As such, the NBA player odds have mostly players aged 26 and under on the board. Jokic (27), Antetokounmpo (27), Stephen Curry (34), and Joel Embiid (28) are the only four players older than 26 among the top 12 candidates. James (37) is the oldest player on the board. He last made the standard cover in 2013 as a 28-year-old.
However, of these “old” dudes, Jokic, Curry, and Antetokounmpo are in the top five of the betting odds table. Whatever the case, their age does not seem to be an impediment to them making the cover. Should Curry and/or Antetokounmpo be the (standard) 2K24 cover athlete, it will each be their second appearance.
The NBA’s Hottest Young Stars
If we’re doubling down on the “young” stars’ angle, there are plenty of longshots worth betting on. Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball are each listed at 10-1. Edwards is the favorite to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. Both are approaching their third seasons, the year when NBA players become legitimate superstars.
A Minnesota Timberwolves player has never been on the NBA 2K24 cover. But Edwards could be the franchise’s biggest star since Kevin Garnett, who made the 2K9 cover as a member of the Boston Celtics. The last Hornet to make the 2K cover is Chris Paul back in 2007 when the Hornets were in New Orleans. Ball will be the first Charlotte player to make the cover if he wins.
After Edwards and Ball are a list of sophomores: Detroit’s Cade Cunningham (50-1), Cleveland’s Evan Mobley (80-1), and last year’s Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes (33-1) of Toronto. Should any of them win, it will be the first time a sophomore makes the cover.
The Unusual Suspects: Don’t Sleep On These Guys
Most 2K players don’t decide on purchasing the game based solely on the cover athlete. But looks matter a lot. That’s why the past 2K covers have featured recognizable NBA superstars. Still, Booker’s appearance makes us believe that fringe superstars have a decent shot at making it.
Players like Bradley Beal (60-1), Jimmy Butler (80-1), and DeMar DeRozan (80-1) have odds that are too long. They don’t have the biggest names but are multiple-time All-Stars and play for big market teams. You can argue they are just as “big” as Lillard, who made the 2K21 cover while playing for the small market Trail Blazers.
Others to consider are the rookies. Chet Holmgren (60-1), Paolo Banchero (80-1), and Jabari Smith Jr. (100-1) could have big years and be featured on the cover just like Zion Williamson in 2020.
Holmgren is one of the favorites to win Rookie of the Year. His uncannily skinny frame combined with his dazzling talents reminds many of a former Thunder superstar: Kevin Durant. Like “KD”, Holmgren could be a cover athlete for NBA 2K. Banchero, on the other hand, is the first overall pick and will be the leader in Orlando. He could be the first Magic player to make the cover.Follow us on Twitter