I really enjoy series and this game because the core mechanics are solid...but it could be so much better. I mainly play MyCareer and not online.
AI needs work, for one thing. 80% of the time it feels like my teammates don't understand spacing and would just bunch up right next to the ball handler. When the other team doubles you, they either fall asleep or run right up to you asking for the ball instead of cutting or getting into a scoring position. Also, when I drive, Cs and PFs that are decent mid-range shooters just clog the paint instead of reacting, but when the CPU penetrates, their teammates know to gtfo.
Graphically, I was realy disappointed at how many subpar faces were still kept from last year's game. Even LeBron (he's on game's cover for crying out loud) looks off. Chris Bosh looks like a balding Chinese dude that been chasing the dragon for way too long. Thankfully, there are mods to help with this.
Another thing that I dislike is the removal of play practicing. What's the big idea? There seems to be almost no point in taking it out of the game. It feels like plays break too often in this game and without that feature, it's hard to know which ones actually work consistently.
Shooting feels really inconsistent this year too. More often than not "A+ Perfect Release" just doesn't fall. I understand people saying that it's more realistic this way, but if a shot doesn't go in then that means it's off, so is it actually perfect? I would have rather been told that I was late or early on the timing instead of seeing perfect shots clank.
Bumping on the perimeter is annoying, but I know why it's there. On the other hand, when I back out of a drive, I feel like the momentum is way too strong, and I get sucked into my defender anyway. Same with using screens from the wings for some reason. Another problem I have with momentum is that sprinting on user-controlled players starts too late because from my perspective, the CPU can start sprinting on a dime.
Off-ball movement is my least favorite aspect of this game. On offense, I'm constantly running into teammates who evidently have tree trunks for legs. I'm alright with my defender preventing me from moving around the court, but on defense, they slip by me wayyy to easily in comparison. Also, I don't like how running right next to your man when he's the ball handler makes your controlled player do a weird slippery roundabout move, and again, momentum while running around on defense in general is annoying to deal with.
Finally, the in-game presentation is as good as always, but I really really really really wish there was an option to turn off those unskippable stats screens. The UI is kind of a slog to get through too. Like, just with the team-select screen - with so many teams, it'd be nice to have an option for a grid layout like you'd see in a fighting game.
Anyway, despite all that, I still managed to play 400+ hours of it and keep most of my hair, so I guess that's a testament to how good the main gameplay is.