Cover Athlete Predictions For Sports Video Games In 2023

Happy New Year.

Sports gamers look forward to the next annual releases on the calendar. Here’s an educated guess from the cover athletes for the most popular sports video game titles set to release this year.

NBA 2K24 – Yes Morant

It could seriously be argued that the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant is the most exciting player in the NBA today. From an athletic standpoint, you could probably count on one hand the number of guys who are able to pull off some of the aerial moves that Morant pulls off every night.

Not only is Morant explosive, he’s also a performer with substance.

The 23-year-old superstar has established himself as a legitimate MVP contender, averaging 27 points, 6.2 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game this season. Additionally, Morant’s Grizzlies seem primed for a long post-season run, and that usually helps add to the deliberation. Finally, Morant’s style fits well with 2K’s primary age demographics.

Why it might not work

Memphis is still a small market team. That’s why 2K might look at someone like the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, who they’ve been in a relationship with since he came to the NBA.

MLB The Show 23 – Julio Rodriguez

Sony also usually likes to target young, rising stars. Last year’s game had Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, and the year before Fernando Tatis Jr. was topped by the San Diego Padres.

This year, the title athlete could be young Seattle Mariners star Julio Rodriguez. J-Rod became American League MVP and just turned 22 this week. He’s another young and dynamic player fit for cover athlete duties.

Why it might not work

Rodriguez is still very young and it’s possible that this honor comes a year early.

Madden 24 – Justin Jefferson

The griddy dance has become the NFL’s most popular celebration. EA put it in Madden and it makes sense to put Justin Jefferson, the guy who popularized it in the NFL, on the cover.

Jefferson on the cover would be more than just a dance. The Minnesota Vikings star is nearing a record-breaking 2022 season. As of Week 16, Jefferson has 1,756 receiving yards, meaning he’s 209 yards from beating Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 receiving yards in a single season.

Of course, Megatron reached the goal in 16 games. Jefferson would have to put in a monster performance against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to make it.

Either way, he’s having a great year and it’s the kind of season that could put the 23-year-old on the cover of Madden 24.

Why it might not work

If a QB is under consideration, primarily the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen or the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, Jefferson could be bumped off the sport’s glamor position.

NHL 24 – Cale Makar

When it comes to rising stars in the NHL, you’ll find few more productive and promising than the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar.

The 24-year-old averaged more than a point per game during his young NHL career and scored 57 goals. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the few really good NHL players under the age of 25 to have been a key part of a Stanley Cup-winning team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev excelled early in his career and helped the Lightning win two Stanley Cups, but the cover athlete probably isn’t a great defender, so we’re going with Makar.

Why it might not work

EA could go for a more established star, maybe even a legend like Sidney Crosby on the cover.

EA FC 24-Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe has been the cover athlete since FIFA 21, although he shared the honor with Sam Kerr for FIFA 23. Kerr could return to share the honor with Mbappe but the PSG star seems like a lock to remain the face of EA’s soccer trophy.

While France failed in their bid to win the 2022 World Cup, Mbappe’s performance at the tournament was legendary.

Underlined by his three-goal effort in the final against Argentina, Mbappe took home the Golden Boot as the best player in the World Cup. Unless EA takes a whole new direction, Mbappe is likely to be the cover athlete for the new game.

Why it might not work

I can’t think of a reason why this doesn’t work.