With the extra development time, the game needs to wow me on all levels. I have already decided that I won't be preordering, unlike the last 3 years. I'm not even sure if I will pick it up.
Control. The controls need an instant response that shows the strength and power of the NBA athletes while still maintaining momentum, and depth of controls so you can control your decision making, whether that decision be good or bad.
Animations. 2K has a huge advantage in the amount of animations they have. Live needs to follow this and start making the game look more organic and separating the players more. I was picking dunk animations in the 2K17 prelude, and I was previewing Zach Lavine's dunk package. There are something like 30 one-hand cocking tomahawk animations that all looked and finished differently. This, along with the amount of dribble, layup, post, and shot animations have are one of the reason 2K looks so organic and deep. EA is doing good with their shot animations, but they can do better, and I am sure they can do the same for other areas of the game. Also, the post whistle and dead ball animations can be better. When you are playing an NBA Live game, you can almost see the scripts kicking in which I believe contributes to the reason why people use the word robotic to describe NBA Live animations. There seems to be a lack of emotion through body language and facial expression. I also would like them to go a bit over the top on some of their animations. I know it sounds a little arcady, but if you look at history, that is actually what made Live a blast to play. Fancy passes, nasty dunks, sick moves blended with sim-style gameplay is what made the game fun.
Dynasty needs an overhaul. They really need a whole new game mode or something to try and satisfy Live players who like 2K's association or Myleague modes. If there is a feature of the mode, it needs to be emphasized a bit to stand out and show it's impact on the mode. Player unhappy? Don't just have a random NBA rumor in text form, have it show up in the gameplay or even the announcing team can add a little commentary. Then you combine a more "animated" player throwing a towel or something after he fouls out or is benched. Just a small example. The modes won't matter much until the gameplay is enticing.
Customization. I expect them to continue with the companion app and allowing you to put your face on your rising star. If they want to 1-up 2K, they should see if they can let you scan and save multiple faces for multiple created players. If they want to dig some nails in, make a hair scanner or an app to create custom hairstyles, brows, and facial hair since 2K fans are complaining about the CAP features for 2K17. Sliders, Roster and Player editing are a must at this point. There are really no acceptable excuses, not even Synergy. Technology not there? Invent it. Not a priority for Live players? Because those players jumped ship to a customizable game and are no longer Live players. Make it a priority.
Online. IMO, the best part of Live 16 was Pro-Am. Expand the streetball/casual online modes. Dunk contest, horse, 21, knock out, around the world, half court, 2 vs 2, 3 vs 3, 4 vs 4, etc. Mini tournaments for RP/SP. The average basketball fan who plays an NBA video game plays streetball. Have fun with it.
Difficulty overhaul. I want to see EA do something innovative here. Instead of just increasing ratings or adjusting probabilities of scoring, player ratings, and other statistics, I want to see the difficulty change based on the strategy of players and teams. I heard an NBA player say that every team knows what the other team is doing due to scouting and analytics and that it's mostly a matter of adaptation and execution. Change the game based on that. Does an offball cutter take the right angle around a screen to get open or is the screen set in the right place to keep the defender at a distance to get a clean shot off? Is a team getting beat by small ball adapting it's substitutions to keep up with their speed and defend the 3's or are they going big to bang inside with mismatches and rebounding? Does that ballhandler realize he can take his man off the dribble 9 out of 10 times? The probabilities scaling can be done in a slider.
The most basic need is that the game needs a consistent improvement in depth and variety across all areas.