NBA

Debating player ratings for NBA 2K22: Who is overrated, underrated and rated just right?

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): It's about that time of year again - one of the best times of the year for basketball-loving gamers like myself. With the release date of NBA 2K22 set for Friday, Sept. 10, we're just weeks away from playing the newest edition of the best-selling basketball video game.

Every year, in the lead up to the release, NBA 2K has a unique way to create a buzz around the drop. Sometimes unprompted, sometimes upon request, NBA players receive their overall ratings for the upcoming season, always causing a debate about players who are overrated, underrated, or rated just right.

NBA 2K started with the ratings reveals for the top-10 players in the game, headlined by four players tied for the highest rating with Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant all coming in at 96 overall.

How do you feel about that? Should any of those superstars be rated higher than the others?

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): For starters, it's hard to argue that those four are head and shoulders above the rest of the league, so I like how that turned out, but I honestly don't know how I feel about them all having an identical 96 rating.

Having recently re-immersed myself in the world of gaming ahead of NBA 2K19, I realize that identical ratings aren't necessarily equal, therefore the four 96s won't have the exact same type of impact on games, which is a pretty good interpretation of the different types of impact these four have on the game in real life.

I won't go as far as saying anyone should be a 99 like LeBron did, but I think I would've liked it if there was a clear-cut No. 1 of the bunch. Giannis' historic Finals performance or KD's epic Conference Semifinals performances seem 97 worthy, but I get it. The race to who can up their rating first will be interesting in itself.

From the perspective of a much-more experienced gamer, what's your take on their ratings?

Irving: I love how you brought up that just because players have the same rating doesn't mean they impact the video game the same way. Because that is 100 percent true. But for that same reason, I'm with you that they shouldn't have given those four players an identical rating. I personally would have had Antetokounmpo and Durant as 97s, maybe even 98s. I think Curry is solid as a 96 and I have no problem with LeBron matching him there. But it does feel like they could have given Giannis and KD a nod of respect for insane postseason performances.

From there, it's nearly impossible to sort through the next tier of players. There's so much talent in the league right now that trying to decipher between who should be rated higher than the next person must be a headache.

Of that next group of players, is there any one person who sticks out that you feel like should have been rated higher or lower?

McGregor: I know there are some names we haven't seen yet, but for the most part I think the top of the league has been covered. That being said, the jump from Damian Lillard, who's a 94, to Jayson Tatum, who's a 90, is very interesting.

Tatum was very genuinely disappointed at not being rated higher, saying "I don't know how we keep going backwards," after finishing NBA 2K21 as a 91.

I'm with him.

I think a 91 or 92 is fair for Tatum, especially given that next jump to the next tier. Tatum is 23 (!), so, to me, 91 or 92 would be a rating that (fairly) puts him below a group of mostly older vets (save for Luka Doncic) but further ahead of some up-and-comers like Trae Young and Zion Williamson, who I think are fairly rated at 89. Although Young might disagree.

At first glance, that's what really jumps out to me.

Am I onto something or am I tripping?

Irving: Nah, you're on to something. It's crazy that Tatum could go for 50 and completely take over a playoff game, averaging 30 points for the series but see his rating regress two points from where he closed out in NBA 2K21. I think a 91 or 92 would've been more accurate, as well.

To jump off of what you were saying though, are we really sure Zion should be rated the same (89 OVR) as Young, who just had a ridiculous run to the Conference Finals and Bradley Beal, who just averaged 31 points per game on his way to an All-NBA honour?

Maybe it's a product of Zion having one of those playstyles that seamlessly translates to video games, boosting his overall a bit because you can just hold turbo and dunking everything. But to me - and this may age poorly because he'll likely surpass the 90 overall threshold at some point this season - I believe he should be closer to an 87 overall with players like Zach LaVine.

McGregor: See, when you put it that way…

Like the 96s, I know those 89s aren't equal, but I don't know if those three guys can be grouped together. With respect to Zion, I know it's a part of what he's expected to do this upcoming season, and, let's be honest, his standing as a former cover athlete, but sliding him down like 1 or 2 points OVR wouldn't be that disrespectful.

I kind of feel like it's a ratings butterfly effect from Tatum being placed where he is. Moreso that I think he should be more than one point ahead of these guys, but I also feel like there should be more separation in general, especially given what Beal and Young just accomplished.

LaVine's kinda getting underrated in the grand scheme, too. Not sure if I'd peg him much higher, but he's coming off of a gold medal and about to play on the best NBA team he's ever played with, which I think makes him a candidate to jump a few points as well.

Irving: My biggest agreement there is that it feels like guys like Tatum, Beal and Young should have more separation from a player like Zion. But you're right when you say that his standing as a former cover athlete likely plays some sort of a role, too. And again, he's going to finish this season above a 90, so I can't complain too much about it.

We could talk for hours on debating one or two overall points for the players in that tier, so I want to take this in a different direction... the rookie class.

McGregor: Now we're talking. The best since 2003, right? At least that's what they're saying.

Irving: Based on their pre-NBA debut 2K ratings, it surely seems that way. The top-five rookies were recently revealed, with all five players rated above a 75 overall.

Plus, with the reveals of some of the International ratings, we've also seen rookies like Australian No. 6 overall pick Josh Giddey (75 OVR) and Spanish No. 23 overall pick Usman Garuba (72 OVR).

But to stick to the top-five, that is very uncharacteristic for rookies to be rated that high.

For comparison, LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards, last year's Rookie of the Year and runner-up, respectively, started with a rating of 77 overall. So with that being said, where does that leave you on the ratings of this year's rookie class?

McGregor: Man, I cannot stress enough how big of a deal it is that there are that many rookies in the 80 range, led by Cunningham actually touching 80.

I mean, it speaks to the hype surrounding this class, substantiated by the flashes that each player on that top five list showed during Summer League play in Las Vegas. Even Giddey's 75 rating is a big deal considering his late jump towards being the sixth pick in the draft.

We've talked at great length about this rookie class and I truly think it's a perfect storm for each one of these guys to make an immediate impact with their respective new teams. They all bring a specific trait that should immediately translate to the next level.

That being said - and with respect to Ball and Edwards - do you predict a big leap from any of them? I think Cunningham and Green really separate themselves, while Mobley quietly becomes all he was expected to be in Cleveland. It just won't be as loud for a big man.

Irving: Well, to make a point about Summer League (and the lack thereof for Ball and Edwards), NBA 2K's Ronnie2K actually revealed that Green's rating jumped two points from a 77 to a 79 because of a standout Summer League.

So that was a slight disadvantage that last year's rookies had to work with. But still, it's not common for rookies to be rated this high from the jump, and I think that speaks to the expectations surrounding this potentially all-time talented class.

But to answer your question, I really don't think it's that crazy to say guys like Cunningham or Green could close the year at or around 85 overall. And I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the other names on that list hover just under that 85 overall range, which is significant, because, to me, personally, I've always felt that 85 overall in 2K was the benchmark to being widely considered as an elite NBA talent. An All-Star calibre player.

Again, for comparison, LaMelo closed out last year at 85 overall but comes in at 84 overall for this season. It will be interesting to see where he ends up, too.

McGregor: Yeah, that 85 benchmark is definitely where you cross over into that All-Star category, and it's fair that LaMelo is right there.

85 for Cunningham and Green? Seems lofty, but I can see it. Man, they are that good.

I'm ready to get the game fired up just talking through it, haha.

Irving: Same here, 2K Day can't come soon enough. Before we wrap this up, is there any player in particular whose rating hasn't been revealed yet that you're looking forward to finding out their standing in the league heading into next year?

McGregor: Honestly, there are so many I could name, so I'll keep it brief.

Two that immediately came to mind were New York Knicks forward Julius Randle and Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier. Randle is an All-Star coming off of a historic season, followed by a postseason to forget. Which one holds more weight?

Rozier continues to improve and was paid as such, earning a max extension with Charlotte, but will that earn him a higher rating than his backcourt mate? How does that work?

Those are particularly intriguing to me. You?

Irving: I really like both of those mentions, and our thought process is on the same wavelength. I'm always most intrigued in seeing how players are rewarded for breakout seasons, so guys like Jaylen Brown and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were two that came to my mind when I asked you that. I'm also interested to see where Golden State Warriors No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga lands, since we didn't get to see his rating during the rookie reveal.

We'll find out sooner rather than later though, with the release right around the corner.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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