I want to make something clear from the getgo: day one ratings in a sports game do not matter. Really, the day one ratings are there for three things.
- Online modes such as one-on-one, card modes, and Draft Champions
- Career modes such as Road to the Show and MyCareer while franchise rosters are being produced.
- To generate talk on social media on who is too high or too low.
If you're playing a game where rosters can be shared (i.e. Operation Sports Full Minors in MLB The Show), then base rosters may not even affect you; in NBA 2K and Madden, people who get the game early will sometimes have rosters up and ready to be downloaded by the time you open the package. When Jets fans load up Madden, they can download rosters with Lucky Whitehead because he's on the Cowboys' day one roster!
Right now, we're in the heat of new NBA uniform season and NBA 2K overall releases. Say what you want about 2K's gameplay or servers - neither of which are as bad as MLB The Show 17's - but NBA 2K18 looks like it's ready for primetime, especially with major improvements to the MyLeague and MyGM modes. MyTeam will have more cards, Pro-Am will probably be decent when servers work, and MyCareer will be fine so long as they avoid Bo$$ Key Yachts, but everyone right now is talking about player overall unveilings.
Today, we'll do our best to look at not only the worst NBA 2K18 ratings released so far, but the worst day one overalls from the past three years.
If you're ready to question if the raters watched any basketball last year, let's do this.
20 Derrick Rose - 84 Overall [NBA 2K16]
On the other hand, giving Derrick Rose an 84 overall when the guy had played 61 games in the past three seasons? Nope. Rose's points per game may look decent for the 2014-15 season with him averaging nearly 18 a night, but he only averaged 4.9 assists per game and was worth only 0.3 VORP. For all intents and purposes, Rose was only slightly better than a replacement player and when you watched him, you could see that. One great game-winner against the Cleveland Cavaliers shouldn't put him as one of the game's better point guards.
I get why Rose was as high as he was, especially with him being a former NBA 2K cover athlete himself, but anywhere from 78-80 would have been more fair. With that, you acknowledge the past few years have been rough, but there's still a chance for Rose to contribute. But an 84? Way, way too high.
19 Giannis Antetokounmpo - 83 Overall [NBA 2K17]
But wait, you say! The Greek Frreak in 2015-16 wasn't the star he is now! That's true, but two years ago marked the beginning of what Giannis Antetokounmpo could do if given the opportunity to shine. Averaging 16.9 points per game with 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game, Antetokounmpo looked like a complete player AND did all that at only 21 years old, so why was he only an 83?
Wouldn't it have made more sense to go with an 86 or 87 to say, "hey, this kid is on the verge of stardom and we should properly recognize that." Let's not pretend that Antetokounmpo was mediocre the year before, even if his VORP was only 1.6 (it's worth noting Jason Kidd spent part of that season figuring out what Antetokounmpo's role would be). What gives?
18 Markelle Fultz - 80 Overall [NBA 2K18]
Really, you could have put Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, or any rookie that's above a 77 on this list; because he's a 77, Jayson Taytum gets a pass. My issue with Fultz being an 80 really has nothing to do with his college stats, the Philadelphia 76ers tanking, or the Brooklyn Nets giving up all of their draft picks; it's instead part of an unfortunate trend in sports games that has been going on for a long time where top draft picks get extremely high ratings.
Did you know that in Madden 07, Reggie Bush was an 87 overall? Bush is by far one of the greatest college football players we've seen in a long time, but he hadn't even played a single snap yet! For me, no rookie in NBA 2K should be higher than a 77 on a day one roster (Madden is a bit different, though 80 is probably the absolute highest) because we don't know what they're like in the pros. I'm interested to see what you think of this idea, so share your thoughts in the comment section.
17 Joel Embiid - 77 Overall [NBA 2K16]
I've heard everyone's responses about how maybe I'm too harsh on Joel Embiid, but this is part of the reason why. Because Embiid is a marketable player - he has charm and charisma, that I won't deny, but is also a bit too childish and immature - he's the type of player 2K cozies up to. If you don't believe me, look at some of his conversations with 2K people on Twitter and try to tell me they don't understand how marketable he is.
But with that coziness comes, and I'll just come out and say it, sucking up. Embiid was a 77 overall in NBA 2K15 (as a top three pick, that makes sense and as I'll explain soon, roughly what the rookie limit should be) and dropped to a 76 in 2K16 because he didn't play his rookie year. I'm not against that. But Embiid doesn't play his sophomore season either...and somehow goes up a point? This is mind-boggling, but far from the worst Embiid decision 2K has made.
16 Kawhi Leonard - 87 Overall [NBA 2K16]
Some people will say 87 was a fair rating for Kawhi Leonard after his age 23 season, when the former NBA Finals MVP averaged 16.5 points, 7.2 rebound, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 steals a night - all of which were career-highs at the time - but even then, 87 just feels a bit too low. We knew how dangerous Kawhi Leonard was on defense and his offensive game was finally breaking out to where we actually said, "alright, this guy is a legitimate two-way threat."
And even if you're one of the people who thinks Kawhi is a system player and Gregg Popovich is an overrated coach, you can't ignore the fact hat the guy was worth 4.1 VORP. If Leonard was going from an 81 in NBA 2K15 to an 87 here, that'd be one thing, but to go from an 85 to an 87? How is a growth like that only worth two points?
15 Andrew Bogut - 78 Overall [NBA 2K16]
Now more often than not, the raters at NBA 2K will try to "pony up" for the players by giving them higher ratings than they probably deserve (see: Embiid, Joel), so I'm not sure what went wrong with Andew Bogut here. Even if you want to make the argument he was injury prone, Bogut had played 134 of a possible 164 games over the past two seasons - not at all bad! - and averaged 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per night for a team that was coming off an NBA Finals win.
Bogut was also worth 5.5 plus/minus defensively and averaged 8.1 rebounds in the playoffs, so what gives? Why rate Bogut as a mediocre starting center when he'd been among the league's best defensive presences over the past two years for a major market team? The excuse of forgetting about him is lost, especially when the Warriors were coming off a title!
14 Al Horford - 82 Overall [NBA 2K16]
If the three year rule we mentioned above - to reiterate, it means that the raters evaluate a player's overall and attributes by their performances in the past three seasons - is in effect for 2K, than I'm baffled on how Horford was only an 82. True, Horford only played in 29 games during the 2013-14 season and was an injury risk, but his 2012-13 season had him average a career-high 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game; 2014-15, while not as kind statistically, saw Horford post a 3.4 VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) and contribute 8.7 Win Shares.
In other words, why would the 2K people underrate Horford and give him the, "yeah, he's decent" overall score? If anything, Bogut should have gotten roughly an 82 or an 83 while Horford should have been around an 85 or 86. Three or four points may not sound like much, but come on.
11 Kevin Durant - 91 Overall [NBA 2K16]
This one is perplexing and I don't even think the biggest Kevin Durant hater can defend this one. As you'll remember, Durant won the 2014 NBA MVP after averaging 32 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and nearly a block per night, earning himself the NBA 2K15 cover and a 95 overall in the process. Maybe 95 was too low, but 2K rarely has handed out above a 96 to anyone not named Kobe Bryant or LeBron James (Durant is a 96 this year, for what its worth) so a 95 is acceptable.
Then, Durant misses nearly all of the 2014-15 season with foot injuries, but still averages 25.4 points and actually makes 51 percent of his shots, the best ratio of his career...and drops four points in the process. If 2K wanted to drop Durant to a 94, that'd be alright, but dropping him four points over an injury he couldn't control? Not good, folks...
9 Nicolas Batum - 79 Overall [NBA 2K17]
Now on one hand, you can make the argument Batum shouldn't have been too high after a season where he averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists a game - that's certainly not worthy of an 85 or an 86 - but I'd have to think it'd be higher than a 79. When you get a grade ending in a 9, it means whoever gave it to you means they want to see more from you. Even if the stats don't look too impressive, go back and watch the Charlotte Hornets' 2015-16 season one more time and tell me Batum doesn't pass the eye test.
Factoring in Batum arriving in Charlotte from Portland in a time where first-year transitions don't always work and Batum should have been much higher than the 78 he was given. What gives, 2K? Maybe they forgot about him because Charlotte isn't exactly the most popular team? Maybe he was punished because of the bathroom laws? Who knows?
8 C.J. McCollum - 83 Overall [NBA 2K17]
Now, this is where the three-year mark applies and if that was actually their reasoning, I won't be too hard on 2K here. After primarily coming off the bench in his first two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, McCollum broke out in the 2015-16 season for 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.2 steals a night while making 44 percent of his shots. Not bad, and winning the Most Improved Player Award (which I think needs to be split into two awards: Breakout Player - which McCollum would be - and Comeback Player) makes that the ultra-rare not too bad!
But still, why was McCollum only an 83? If 2K's reasoning really was, "well, we don't know if he's going to replicate this season again and it may be a fluke" than it's fair, but I'd have to think 85 or 86 would have made more sense. I mean, Jahlil Okafor...well, we'll get to him later.
6 Hassan Whiteside - 85 Overall [NBA 2K17]
With Whiteside, we have to use the rare two-year benchmark because, remember, he didn't play from 2012-14. In 121 games across the 2014-15 season and 2015-16 season, Whiteside averaged 13.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game while shooting 61 percent from the line and making 60 percent of his free throws. Not bad at all - and this was also the same guy who gave 2K a bit of a publicity boost in his first year with the Heat.
So if 2K knows he's climbing up the top centers list, why only give him an 85? I agree that an 89 would have been too much, so let's just call this an 87 and move on. And before you say that a two point difference doesn't make much sense after only two good years, keep an eye on what's coming soon.
5 Derrick Rose - 78 Overall [NBA 2K18]
Originally, I was going to put Nick Young and his 74 overall rating here because I do think that's a bit low for him (I'd have gone 76 or 77, but he may also have been nuked because of the Warriors effect), but Derrick Rose being a 78 made me stop and ask what 2K is thinking. Even if you look at the basic stats and say he had his highest points per game since 2011-12 (18 a night) and made 47 percent of his shots, go back to any Knicks game and tell me Rose is close to an 80 overall.
Not only does Rose look much older than 28, but the guy was worth 0.0 VORP last season. In other words, Rose played at the level of a replacement player and was only worth three Win Shares because the Knicks were terrible! Let's just all agree Rose got the boost because the Cavaliers are going to trade Kyrie Irving or because he's a former 2K coverboy.
3 Andre Drummond - 85 Overall [NBA 2K18]
The thing is, you could make the argument either way for Drummond being a bit too low or a bit too high. We know how consistent he is and I think we all saw his numbers taking a bit of a drop last year, but I don't think 85 is the right number; it's a safe choice, which I'll respect 2K for, but is it the right choice?
Interestingly, the advanced stats seem to favor Drummond' 2016-17 season a bit more than his All-Star 2015-16 season; he was worth 0.8 more in VORP, had a career-high 2.9 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, had a 0.9 BPM rather than the -0.5 from two years ago, and posted a career-high 25.2 total rebounding percentage. For me, Drummond would have worked at about an 87, but 2K playing it safe surprises me.
2 Kristaps Porzingis - 86 Overall [NBA 2K18]
If Derrick Rose is hypothetically getting the boost because the Cleveland Cavaliers may trade Kyrie Irving, shouldn't Kristaps Porzingis get a boost because the New York Knicks may trade Carmelo Anthony? The thing is, though, that an 86 is probably around where I'd put Porzingis after the Latvian Unicorn averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, two blocks, and made 45 percent of his shots last year.
More or less, Porzingis was the same player as he was in his rookie year with the small leaps a 21 year old is expected to take in his second season, so I don't have an issue with this rating alone. Plus, the guy did all of that with Phil Jackson's nonsense clouding the team, so 2K made a good call here. It's the next rating, however, that puts Porzingis on this list...
1 Joel Embiid - 86 Overall [NBA 2K18]
Allow me to understand this for a second. Kristaps Porzingis, a guy who has defied all odds and posted two extremely successful seasons with a dysfunctional Knicks organization - if Karl-Anthony Towns doesn't have that insane rookie year in 2015-16, Porzingis is the Rookie of the Year (and that tells you how good KAT was) - but is only an 86. Joel Embiid, who played 31 of a possible 82 games and was really good, but not quite great, is also an 86.
The highest I'd have gone for Embiid is an 82 only because of how good he was when healthy, but he should have been a flat 80 or an 81 at the highest. The guy hasn't played! How do 31 games make him as good as Porzingis?! Even if Embiid won Rookie of the Year, he shouldn't have been this high, so what would he have been if he won? An 88? A 90? I need a break...
Which of these ratings are the most disgraceful? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below...
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