NBA 2K17’s much anticipated “High Flyers” collection made its debut in the MyTeam pack market on Wednesday night, replacing the playmaking “Handles” box with wild, take-no-prisoners swing men and dunk artists.
The following is a card-by-card review of the pack and its absurd fast and lopsided cast of Monstars.
Buckle up. Where we’re going, we don’t need layups.
Gold Terrence Ross (SF, 78)
Right out the gate, High Flyers rolls out the athleticism with a 78 overall Gold Terrence Ross card. And for what it is, it ain't bad.
High Flyer Ross is a fast and offensively skewed, with Bs across the board in shooting categories. This isn't a total equalizer for his defense, but Ross' A- athleticism helps makes up for the sad, compost fire he is on the defensive end.
That A- rating is completely bonkers for a Gold card with reasonable offensive weapons, but this is the way of the High Flyer pack: everyone is capable of flying into space..
Key Stat(s): Speed (82) and speed with ball (80).
Gold Michael Finley (SF, 79)
Like a bigger, less good Terrence Ross card. Michael Finley did the thing for a long time in the NBA, but the longtime Mavs and Spurs guard-forward NBA championship and two-time All-Star selection didn't pan out in an exceptional card in this case. There is, however, some moderate scoring potential to go with his complimentary A- athleticis.
Key Stat(s): a silly 95 Vertical.
Gold Victor Oladipo (SG, 79)
High Flyer Victor Oladipo is the Swiss Army knife of this pack—useful, dangerous and relatively cheap to come by right now. Victor's athleticism rating is up to a realistic A (duh) on his High Flyer card, and his inside scoring is a respectful B-minus. Again, this is another decent card for the hustler who stays humble-grindin’ with the Gold pulls..
Key Stat(s): Oladipo's driving dunk tendency has been jacked up a whopping 60+ points to 95.
Emerald Serge Ibaka (PF, 80)
High Flyin’ Ibaka sees moderate, pan-skill boosts from his current Gold card iteration. It’s nice, but nothing *too* mind-blowing. Think "Ibaka Plus"—a somewhat faster, more consistent shot blocker with offensive upside.
Key Stat(s): +21 Shot IQ (88), +9 Vertical (95).
Emerald Jerry Stackhouse (SG, 81)
Welp…I mean, it’s a card.
You can take or leave High Flyer’s Emerald Jerry Stackhouse, which definitely feels like it goes all in on making a 22-year-old Stackhouse completely forgettable and mediocre. He does come with a gold high Posterizer badge on deck, but but has relatively low stamina for this group (85) and rates lower in overall offense (82) and defense (79) than High Flyer Oladipo.
Collect him on your way toward Ruby Jason Richardson, but leave Emerald Stack in the shoe box come game time.
Key Stat(s): A B-rating in athleticism—the lowest of all backcourt players in the High Flyer collection.
Sapphire Blake Griffin (PF, 84)
I’ll say this for High Flyer pack Blake Griffin: if you want to dunk even harder on people with Blake Griffin, today is your day.
Because there’s not much else going on with this Blake High Flyer card, which might be the most exquisitely awful Sapphire in 2K17’s diverse and never-endingly sea of forgettable Sapphire cards. Even better, High Flyer Blake currently costs a fortune in auction (between 40 and 70,000 MT). Good times.
Another mediocre scorer with hops to spare, High Flyer Shawn Marion comes with all the gold badge bells and whistles of the Sapphire Blake Griffin but can, like, defend and shoot the ball well inside. He has plenty of lateral quickness for a 6’7” forward with 99 vertical, plenty of muscle and stamina.
Welcome to super-charged Andre Drummond. You will never be the same when he takes flight. (But really, a 17-point boost to his vertical and ‘raided out dunk tendencies makes High Flyer Drummond a 6’11”, earth-devouring pterodactyl of reckoning).
Key Stat(s): 95 vertical.
Sapphire Amar’e Stoudemire (PF, 84)
Strong offensive sapphire with speed, a nose for the offensive boards and gold Lob City Finisher and Posterizer badges. This is vintage Amar’e.
Key Stat(s): 86 speed (???).
Sapphire J.R. Smith (SG, 85)
First off, I’d like to thank the developer at 2K who, year in and year out, unabashedly shares his love for J.R. Smith with gamers. Because we’re barely a month into the 2K17 pack calendar and MyTeam managers already have not one, nor two—but THREE J.R. Smith cards at our disposal in the never-ending quest for buckets.
That’s two more cards than LeBron James, it should be noted (LeBron will have 15 before all is said but, for now, let me live and breathe in this moment). THAT BEING SAID, Sapphire J.R. is a weird card. It’s basically a selectively boosted version of the Emerald Nuggets J.R. with better court vision and defensive consistency (and a weird ding to his mid-range game). I blame the Knicks. And Hennessy.
Key Stat(s): 88 open shot three, 87 contested shot three (touche, 2K).
Ruby Kobe Bryant (SG, 87)
Ah…there he is: 20-year-old wild-boy-with-a-shot-and-a-jetpack Kobe Bryant.
High Flyer Kobe Bryant is the first Kobe card to hit the MyTeam market for 2K17, and he is, predictably, a huge problem for anyone saddled with guarding him. Ruby High Flyer Kobe is a very real reminder of the paradox the Mamba presented even at the tender age of 20. Because damn, man, it is tough to check a 6'6" guard with speed, handles, a functioning post-game *and* a hair-trigger fadeaway. You get all these quality with the High Flyer Kobe Bryant card, which isn’t even the top-rated overall card of the collection. He is, however, probably the funnest to play with due to his speed with the ball, and stupid vertical. The rub, of course, is actually getting your hands on High Flyer Kobe, which basically requires winning the pack-pull lottery or selling internal organs for MyTeam dollars. Most sellers aren't even listing High Flyer Kobe at the max Buy-It-Now price of 100,000 MT. They’re starting open bidding for Kobe at 100,000 and taking whatever accumulates on top.
Key Stat(s): 90 speed, 92 speed with ball.
Ruby Andre Iguodala (SF, 89)
Andre Iguodala’s Ruby High Flyer card is everything the man himself could during his early years with the 76ers—a bouncy, two-way force and havoc-wrecker on the defensive end. There’s almost no weakness to High Flyer Iggy and his strong A-B shooting grades, stout perimeter D and athleticism. If you have the means…I’d pick him up.
The dunk-centric Rancor you unlock by collecting the complete High Flyer pack. Ruby Jason Richardson comes decked out with purple, Hall of Fame Lob City Finisher and Posterizer badges. Even better, however, are the offensive specs rounding out Richardson’s game—your man can still hit that three-point shot. Between the outside shooting and ability to drive, muscle and elevate, your best defense against High Flyer J-Rich is probably, like, tithing or earnest prayer that his knees give out.
Key Stat(s): 88 open shot three, 94 speed, 92 acceleration (This man is 6’6”, 225 pounds).
Overall Grade: B+
High Flyer appears to confirm the creative direction 2K hinted at with “Handles,” which is a hard pivotal toward highly specialized cards and packs built around player archetypes, instead of just nebulous “moments.” This means we’re going to see some more cards that may or may not have any business in your actual, meat-and-potatoes MyTeam lineup.
That being said, the High Flyer collection is stupid fun, and unlike Handles, feels a lot more user-friendly and straightforward. You don’t have to be a pro to lob the ball up and watch Sapphire Dragon-Drummond go up and get it—and you don’t have to be a casual player to enjoy such simple pleasures.
I just hope 2K holds the course and delivers "Three-and-D" lockdown packs and a “Buckets” collection for sharpshooters. I want to see if we can get J.R. Smith five special cards this year. Dan is on Twitter seeing if the server is down.