After a couple months of easing into card schemes and slowly rolling out the upper tiers, 2K has more or less slammed on the gas in their Gems of the Game collections.
All at once we're blessed with a Cristal downpour of amethysts and diamond cards, brought into market with bonkers packs like the Droppin' 50 and Playmakers collections.
For a minute there, Moments cards became mostly obsolete, or at least second-class citizens to monsters like Nets-era Vince Carter and friends. But in the last week and a half, Moments has stormed back with worldbeaters at almost every position on the floor.
The following is a ranking reassessing the hierachy and state of the Moments collection through 10 weeks of play.
It's time to go DeMarcus Cousins out in public.
Emerald DeAndre Jordan
The Night: 21 points, 23 rebounds vs. Brooklyn on 11/29.
A rebounding monster based on a game basketball scientists will study for decades.
DeAndre Jordan did everything but literally dunk the Brooklyn frontcourt through the rims at the Barclay’s Center back in November, a dramatic game the Clips ultimately lost after accidentally watering Sean Kilpatrick after midnight and suffering his wrath.
Card-wise, Moments DeAndre is a Best Value ruby Mutombo—an elite rim protector who performs best if you never shoot the ball and consider all of the parts of the court outside the restricted area lava.
The Moment: 26 points, 22 rebounds vs. Indiana on 12/14.
A more polished and consistent version of Moments Gobert, with a nifty open mid-range shot should the defense sleep on Hassan's intermediate range.
Not the most versatile center in the game, but sapphire Whiteside at least has tools on the offensive end.
Key Attribute: Standing Dunk (90), Defensive Rebound (96), Help Defense IQ (95),
Emerald Joel Embiid
The Moment: 33 points, 10 rebounds vs. Brooklyn on 12/18.
Ah, Joel's first Moment—a perfectly fine emerald I am overrating in this list because I am that excited for future Embiid Moments cards with geeked out A- three-point shooting ratings and Dynamic Duo pairings with DeMarcus Cousins.
Key Attributes: Open Shot Three (81), Open Shot Mid (85), Block (91).
Sapphire Kawhi Leonard
The Moment: 35 points, five steals at Golden State on 10/25.
Kawhi minted his first Moments card by dropping 35 and going a perfect 15-for-15 from the line against the Warriors on the first night of the NBA season.
Weirdly, this also is Kawhi's only Moments card, and while it remains one of the best and cheapest two-way cards you can round your crew out with, it would be, uh, pretty great if we could get the Ruby clamp-down Kawhi we all have been waiting for.
The Moment: 35 points, 5-for-7 from three vs. New York on 11/5.
Both slept-upon and adequately rated, Moments Wade is a reasonably solid shooting guard option that turns into an eyebrow-raising nightmare from mid-range once his his Dynamic Duo boost from ruby Moments LeBron James is activated.
There's an argument to be made that sapphire Wade and ruby 'Bron is vastly preferrable to amethyst Moments LeBron, given the costs.
The Moment: 44 points, 17-17 from the line at Memphis on 12/20.
A lot of fun to run around with and a super weird release.
I'm neither buying nor selling on ruby Isaiah Thomas, who isn't a go-to starting guard for higher level players. But on principle, I tend to be here for quick guards with dumb deep range shots.
Key Attributes: Open Shot 3 (92), Contested Shot 3 (88), Speed With Ball (97).
Ruby Chris Paul
The Moment: 20 points, 20 assists vs. New Orleans on 12/10.
The best CP3 you can get until you put together the New Orleans Historic collection and snag the merciless diamond Chris Paul. Ruby Moments Paul isn't a world-beater, in my opinion, but he's rock-steady in almost every category.
Key Attributes: Passing IQ (96), Pick & Roll Defense (85).
In terms of breadth and depth of improvement, no player in the game improves from their Current card to their first Moments edition quite like John Wall.
Based on his 52-point Terminator night against Orlando, Wall got a supercharged sapphire and his own Moments Challenge to see if you can recreate his scoring night with two other Wizards players on your roster. It’s doable, you just have to run that him into the ground like a rental car and keeping going until the rim meets the road.
The Moment: 25 points, 10 assists vs. Golden State on 12/25.
Against Golden State in Cleveland on Christmas Day, Kyrie Irving did the thing he's increasing begun to do in 2016, which is morph into a ethereal god-blur and turn solid defenders into bumbling, helpless ash.
The result is a Kyrie card that on paper, is without any visible weaknesses. But in the limited time I've had with ruby Kyrie, I haven't been blown away as expected.
Difficult shots haven't fallen with the consistency I expected, and I don't know if this is because I'm using him wrong or possibly due to his low Intangibles rating (a #nice and also not nice 69).
Key Attributes: Moving Shot Mid (97), Open Shot 3 (88), Ball Control (98).
Sapphire Bradley Beal
The Moment: 41 points, 6-for-10 from three vs. the Clippers on 12/18.
I did not expect much from an 85 overall Bradley Beal card, and I was dumb and wrong for that. Sapphire Bradley Beal might be the most expectedly glitchy-good Sapphire in the game after Josh Smith. He hits every open three, most contested ones, and even splashed a moving one from the corner in transition as he was falling out of bounds.
I might have been lucky, I guess. But he's yet to disappoint.
If 2K stuck strictly to form for Russ’ Moments cards, they’d be turning to the Periodic Table three times a week to look for minerals they could base the new gem levels they’d have to invent just for him.
The Brodie has 15 triple-doubles and we’re still in 2016, which means if 2K bumped him up a card level for each time he messed around and filled the three-gauge, he would have a pink card diamond and six more new cards after that right now. In December.
Game developers can’t have that. They’re already working on 2K18, and not even next gen consoles could handle an Adamantium Westbrook with a 150 Stink Face rating.
That being said, like with ruby Kyrie, I haven't had the game-takeover experience I hoped for when I've used Amethyst Westbrook. He's a pretty good defender but oppresively just OK from mid to deep for an Amythest point guard.
Key Attributes: Open Shot 3 (80), Defensive Rebound (80), Ball Control (77).
Ruby Damian Lillard
The Moment: 40 points, 11 assists at Cleveland on 11/24.
Fast. Smooth. A lot of fun.
Of the many fast and defense-less Moments point guards we’ve seen, ruby Dame is the one that seems to hit enough from buckets from any range to justify the lopsidedness.
Key Attributes: Open Shot 3 (89), Vertical (89).
Ruby Anthony Davis
The Moments: Consecutive 45 and 50-point games against Denver and Golden State in November.
A first love, a reliable friend. Ruby Anthony Davis is no longer the tent pole power forward he was when his Moments card first dropped, but he’s still a more than serviceable starting four and one hell of a utility player off the bench if you’ve got Big Men amethysts in your starting lineup.
Also, that low-key three-point shot that falls is a delightful, rage-quit-inducing shot to throw down once or twice a game if you’re feeling sharky.
I must now cop to a mistake I made, which was leaving ruby Moments James Harden off my review of Moments collections one through six.
This, of course, was wrong, as ruby Moments Harden is a blessing and force through which all things are probable. He is Good Harden to the core, and consistently outperforms just about every pause-worthy rating on his sheet. He also the same vertical as amethyst Russell Westbrook, if you feel like writing your congressman.
The Moment: 39 points, 15-17 from the line vs. Washington on 12/23.
Where Sapphire Giannis was beautiful but flawed, Ruby Giannis is just unfair. He hangs around the defensive boards, he has 90 speed. His moving mid-range game is stronger than Wade, and his heat map is the entire space inside the three-point line.
And considering he’s selling for a relatively reasonable 50,000 MT on X Box, Ruby G-Baby is a must-cop for anyone looking to ruin the days of opposing power forward.
The Moment: 41 points, 15 rebounds vs. Houston on 12/17.
The God KAT.
Ruby Towns gives you exactly what you want: an athletic big man who can run the court with the ball, jump out of the gym and hit three-pointers like the mutant we expect elite big men in today's game to be.
There's not much weakness to this card, honestly. Just plug him in and let him run around the Roy Hibberts of the world.
Key Attributes: Post Fadeaway (89), Speed (80), Speed With Ball (69).
Amethyst LeBron James
The Moment: 44 points, 10 AST, 9 REB vs. Charlotte on 12/10.
The emotional stages of loving, boohooing and ultimately accepting the Amethyst Moments LeBron:
"This is the best thing. I will do anything for it. I want this data packet from this basketball game to speak at my funeral."
Oh, no Dynamic Duo, eh? And that three isn’t THAT good. I am no longer gruntled.
So he's, like, Ruby ‘Bron Plus? But you don't have to carry sapphire Wade up and down the court in a papoose? That's actually pretty convenient.
The Night: 55 points, 5-8 from three, 12 rebs, 16-17 FTs (12/20 vs POR)
Amethyst DeMarcus Cousins, a.k.a. Return of the DeMarc: Machine Gun Boogie, is a titan among men and the closest you can come to starting an armor-plated war hippo in NBA 2K17.
Inspired by the Boogie’s 55-point reckoning against Portland, Cousins’ third Moments card is all the DeMarcus Cousins post dominance with the added bonus of a three-point rail gun. His stock model originally came with 14 gold badges, which 2K eventually nerfed down to bronze after they woke up from what seems like a night of drunken Cousins revelry.
That's a buzzkill, obviously, but I see why it happened. His Moments Challenge requiring you to 31 points and come back from 12 down in the second half against Portland is silly easy (played on All-Star).
And even with the nerf, amethyst Boogie has every relevant badge you'd need and room for more. I might give him gold Ankle Breaker just to fill the space.
Key Attributes: Open Shot Three (85), Post Fadeaway (95), Speed (55), Mouth Piece Retention (22).
Moments took a big upturn in the last month after being pushed to the brink of irrlevance by other specialty packs.
You can now find world-beater cards at pretty much every position in Moments 1-10, and I'm personally excited to see its growth as guys like Kawhi, LaVine and Giannis grow this year.
Ultimately, while a still a crapshoot at times, the League Pass pack is inching up on the Historical packs in terms of per-pack cost-benefit. More Moments means better odds for a Moments pull, ostensibly, and I've had much better luck with grabbing sapphire and better player cards from League Pass packs in recent weeks. Historical is still the best pack in terms of consistently getting at least your MT's return in value, but the odds of pulling collection-completing rubies have felt really low.
In any case, you don't have to pull too much these days to get big-time Moments cards. Thanks to big ticket packs like Droppin' 50, you can get top-tier cards like KAT's for the relative cheap.
Just remember: there probably will be another Moments card for any big-time player, so spring for the obvious keepers and cash out on the ones you can part with while they still have value.
Dan is on Twitter. He doesn't always nerd out about video games, but when he does, he writes WAY too many words about it.