Every year around August and September, fans of professional sports leagues – even those who don’t play video games – debate the merits of a player’s overall rating in a video game. The player rating system has become so popular that even the players themselves promote – or trash – their rating on social media. This happens particularly among National Football League (NFL) players, who take to Twitter to agree or disagree with their rating. The same thing has happened this summer with National Basketball Association (NBA) players, who are doing so in part as promotion for NBA 2K18, which has easily become one of the premier sports video games for both major consoles.
EA Sports does a great job with Madden and its NHL series, but there’s no video game that’s more immersive and enjoyable than the NBA 2K series. The game is improved upon extensively each year with addictive game modes and an incredible online system. In fact, it’s quite common to see actual NBA players promoting the fact they play online via Twitter and Instagram. We can’t be too sure if most players solely play as the team they’re actually on in real life, but we’re betting these 15 players might have strong opinions about their overall rating. Some are an absolute joke because they’re extremely overrated, while others should be rated even higher.
15. Demar DeRozan (89)
You have to give Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan credit. He has improved immensely since entering the league as a fresh-faced perimeter player, and he has plenty of confidence – he once famously declared on Twitter “Don’t worry, I got us” after Chris Bosh left for the Miami Heat. And he wasn’t wrong. The Compton native improved different aspects of his game in each successive season, but he’s still far too flawed to be rated 89 overall.
In the 2K series, an 89 overall rating should mean a player is on the cusp of being one of the league’s best players. DeRozan is not that. He’s a fantastic scorer who can hit difficult jump shots from anywhere inside the three-point line, but he is weak from beyond the line. He also isn’t a superior passer or rebounder, nor is he particularly known for his defense. An 85 overall rating would have been much more accurate.
14. Gordon Hayward (88)
We previously blasted the 89 overall rating of DeMar DeRozan, but we can’t do that without bringing into question the 88 overall rating of Gordan Hayward. The former Utah Jazz small forward may be benefiting from joining a bigger market team in Boston. He was an 86 overall initially in 2K17 before it updated its player ratings league-wide. He’s nowhere near the dominant scorer that DeRozan has – he averaged a career-high 21.9 points per game last year as opposed to DeRozan’s 27.3 – and he doesn’t really provide much else. His rebounding and assist numbers were similar as well.
More than anything, Hayward averaging six less points per game than DeRozan is a big deal given they had similar roles in their offense and played similar minutes. At 27 years old and joining a new team, it’s hard to imagine Hayward will have a better statistical season that last year. Like DeMar, he should have received a mid-80s rating.
13. Devin Booker (86)
Devin Booker is a tremendous emerging talent in the league, but one legendary game does not earn an 86 overall rating. Booker dropped 70 points on the Boston Celtics in a late-March game last season, which clearly inflated his point per game average to a total of 22.1. That was a drastic improvement on his rookie average of 13.8 points per game, but he didn’t exactly improve his rebound or assist total that much, the latter of which is significant because he is one of the team’s two starting guards.
Diving deeper into the numbers, Booker averaged the exact same field goal percentage in 2016-17 as he did the year prior. He just took an average of seven more shots per game. His three-point percentage went up, but is still just a mediocre 36 percent. He was a 78 overall in NBA 2K17 and it feels like 2K is basing this rating off Booker once again having another season of improvement.
12. Joel Embiid (86)
Joel Embiid is another example of a player whose rating might have risen due to his popularity and social media presence. The oft-injured big man played a great half-season in 2016-17, but 2K is far too quick to throw a high rating at players who haven’t proven much (see later entries on this list, including some high-profile rookies).
The former third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid missed the first two years of his career due to injury and, finally healthy at the start of 2016-17, took the league by storm by averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game in just 25.4 minutes. We definitely can’t dispute those numbers. But he’s far from a complete player, which is what an 86 rating might suggest. He can get there if he stays healthy, but that appears to be a big if, unfortunately.
11. Nick Young (74)
This one is a little baffling, unless of course 2K added a category for off-court intelligence, in which case Young’s zero rating (regardless of who you blame, Young bragging about cheating on Iggy Azalea was a dumb move to begin with) would have significantly dropped his overall to a 74. On the court, however, Young had somewhat of a renaissance year in 2016-17. After averaging 7.3 points per game the year prior off the bench, he started 60 games last year, played six more minutes per game, and averaged 13.2 points per game. Yet, he gets a 74 overall rating, whereas last year he was ranked at 70 overall.
You could make the case that Young is deserving of at least a 76 or 77 rating, and a 78 might not even be out of the question, especially with the way the three-point shot is becoming so important. Young averaged a near-career-best 40 percent from three-point range last season and that number should only rise as a member of the Golden State Warriors. Perhaps 2K didn’t want to stack the Warriors any more than they already are.
10. Karl-Anthony Towns (91)
You’re not going to see us argue many high-rated players should be rated even higher (although, to be honest, LeBron James’ 97 overall could easily be 99, don’t @ us), but that’s the case with Karl Anthony-Towns, whose 91 overall rating is a travesty when compared to similarly-talented Superstars.
The 21 year old New Jersey native was the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and he has already established himself as the game’s premier center and has shown a willingness to adapt to the three-point-heavy NBA – he recorded a robust 37 percent three-point shooting percentage last season. His advanced metrics are impressive, but you don’t even need to look at them to know he’s deserving of a 95 rating. Towns averaged 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game last season, but only saw his rating rise three points.
9. Terrence Ross (75)
Terrence Ross is similar to Nick Young in that he’s primarily a scorer who doesn’t bring much else to the court. His career-best in assists per game is 1.1, which he averaged last season, while his career-best rebound per game number is 3.1, which he averaged during his second year in the league back in 2013-14.
Throughout his career, much of Ross’ promise has involved impact as a three-point shooter. However, the truth is he isn’t more than slightly above average from beyond the arc. His career three-point percentage is 37, while he only averaged 34 percent from deep after a mid-season trade to the Orlando Magic last season. Yet, his rating stayed the same from 2K17. If Swaggy P is a 74, Ross should be no higher than a 72.
8. Quincy Acy (72)
From one player who might be out of the league in a few years to one you likely took a step back in bewilderment at the fact he is still in the league, Quincy Acy received a 72 overall rating from 2K. The five-year pro has already played for five teams and has been unable to establish himself as anything more than a back of the rotation bench player. In truth, he really doesn’t provide much of anything other than garbage time production.
Acy’s two best seasons came with the miserable New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, which should be cause for concern, especially when you consider his career-best point-per-game average is 6.5, which he recorded with a 41 percent shooting percentage this past season. He can’t pass and he can barely rebound. Back-end bench players like Acy should be significantly lower than rotation pieces like Ross and Young.
7. Ben McLemore (73)
Ben McLemore belongs in the same category with Quincy Acy, despite the fact he’s a little younger and is a former top-ten pick who some might suggest still has decent potential. The results on the court, however, don’t seem to prove that idea. Through four seasons with the Sacramento Kings, the University of Kansas alumnus has a career average of 9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game.
He slightly improved his shooting percentage last season, both from two-point and three-point range, but his ability to rebound and pass the ball dipped, as did his steals and blocks per game average, not that he’s expected to block shots, but those combined figures point to a decline in athleticism. His career already appears to be on a downward trajectory, yet 2K decided he deserved a bump up from 72 to 73 overall.
6. Bradley Beal (87)
Bradley Beal received a lot of positive press last season for his improved numbers. The former third overall pick averaged 23.1 points per game as opposed to just 17.4 the year prior, but the biggest factor in that increase was his willingness to shoot more three pointers. In fact, Beal didn’t even record a career-high three-point percentage. His 40 percent clip was was one percentage point lower than the mark he set in 2014-15, but he attempted three more three-point shots per game this season.
Beal was an 80 overall in NBA 2K16 and saw his rating drop to 79 overall in NBA 2K17; yet, simply jacking up more three-point shots was enough for 2K to give him an 87 overall. Beal is perhaps best suited at 85 and could have easily been 82 or 83 last year. Instead, 2K sought to overcompensate on a poor rating from last year’s game.
5. Zach LaVine (80)
Zach LaVine was part of the package that saw Jimmy Butler go from Chicago to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and while it’s true Minnesota significantly improved its roster, many people have been downplaying the ability of Zach LaVine. He’s best suited as a shooting guard as opposed to a point guard, which was the position he was drafted as, but that doesn’t mean he’s only deserving of an 80 overall rating. Whereas players like Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns shot up drastically for improving their point-per-game average, LaVine only rose two overall points after going fro 14.0 points per game in 2015-16 to 18.9 last year.
Sure, LaVine played 37.2 minutes per game, but his three-point percentage was essentially the same, while his two-point field goal percentage improved. He also averaged more steals and less turnovers, not to mention averaged a career-high 3.0 rebounds per game. An 84 overall rating would have been just.
4. Derrick Rose (78)
The author of this list is far from a fan of Derrick Rose; in fact, quite the opposite. The dude has a bad rap off the court and seems to care less on it. However, despite the injuries that have plagued his career, Rose actually didn’t have that poor of a campaign in 2016-17. The former MVP and three-time All-Star averaged 18 points per game, which was the most he had since 2011-12, and improved his field goal percentage, efficiency field goal percentage, rebounds per game, and turnovers per game from the previous season.
Yet, even after the forgettable 2015-16 season, Rose was given an 80 overall in NBA 2K17. That mark was probably accurate, but it certainly should have gone up and not down in 2K18. Chances are the game is factoring in that he signed for essentially the league minimum in Cleveland, but he can still be an effective scorer and distributor of the ball.
3. Damian Lillard (89)
Maybe it’s because he plays in Portland, which hasn’t quite been relevant in the grand scheme of the NBA in recent years, but Damian Lillard is severely underappreciated league-wide. The 27 year old point guard is in the prime of his career and is arguably one of the league’s most exciting players. The two-time All-Star averaged a career-high 27 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season. His assist total dipped a little, but he became a more efficient scorer.
As we’ve seen for previous players, 2K has elevated their ratings for less statistical improvements, yet for Lillard they decided to keep him at the 89 overall rating he was given in NBA 2K17. If Lillard played in New York or Los Angeles, he would easily be at least a 92 overall.
2. Steph Curry (94)
We’ll say it – Steph Curry isn’t that much better than Damian Lillard and, honestly, the pair might be closer to equal. Obviously, Curry has the edge in regard to three-point shooting and might be a slightly better playmaker, but the two share a lot of similarities. In fact, ignoring Curry’s record-breaking season in 2015-16 in which he shot an absurd 45 percent from three (he was at 41 percent this past season), his point-per-game average is actually less than Lillard’s.
2K gave the former two-time MVP a 94 rating a year ago, and stuck with the mark this year, likely attributing his decline in points, steals, rebounds, and assists per game to the fact he was on a super team which had more dispersed scoring than even a season prior. Yet, his underlying shooting percentages declined in nearly every category. He could have at least saw his rating drop one or two points.
1. Lonzo Ball (80)
The face of the Big Baller Brand has yet to even play a game in the league, but he has an 80 overall rating, whereas established veterans are mid-70s. Sure, Lonzo Ball looked impressive in a few Summer League games, but it’s clear the publicity brought about by his loud-mouth father Lavar Ball has earned him praise by 2K developers.
Yes, the creators of the game have a tough job in trying to accurately predict how good rookies might be, and these ratings will change in updates throughout the year, but giving Ball an 80 overall is a bit much. In contrast, Ben Simmons, last year’s first-overall pick, had a 79 overall rating in NBA 2K17, while second overall pick Brandon Ingram was 78 overall. The NBA is a lot different than college, and it’ll be interesting to see if Ball can withstand the pressure of playing in his hometown with his father lurking in the background.
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