via Philadelphia Sports Nation

On Monday, July 15th NBA 2K teased out its top 20 list of players and their ratings ahead of the game’s release date on September 6th.
Most fans will look at and debate things like who’s there (Donovan Mitchell #18) and who’s not (Ben Simmons, for example).

They will most likely have a strong opinion, one way or the other, about how LeBron is rated slightly ahead of Kahwi.  While these are all interesting and worthy debates to have, it might also be interesting (and perhaps informative) to look back at last year’s ratings and see if the NBA 2K rating system can be trusted as a predictor of a team’s relative success.

2019 Playoffs

For the purpose of this exercise, each of last year’s 16 playoff teams was examined.  The actual playoff seedings were as follows:

Eastern Conference                       Western Conference        

1. Bucks                                                   1. Warriors

2. Raptors                                               2. Nuggets

3. Sixers                                                  3. Blazers

4. Celtics                                                 4. Rockets

5. Pacers                                                 5. Jazz

6. Nets                                                    6. Thunder

7. Magic                                                 7. Spurs

8. Pistons                                              8. Clippers

Had these seedings been based on the combined individual 2019 NBA 2K player ratings of each team’s top 8 individual players (total in parenthesis) the seedings would have looked like this:

Eastern Conference                       Western Conference        

1. Raptors (581)                                      1. Warriors (599)

2. Sixers (580)                                        2. Rockets (571)

3. Celtics (579)                                       3. Nuggets (570)

4. Bucks (575)                                        4. Thunder (569)

5. Nets (566)                                          5. Jazz (562)

6. Pacers (555)                                       6. Spurs (562)

7. Pistons (547)                                     7. Clippers (562)

8. Magic (544)                                       8. Blazers (558)

*NOTE – Ties were broken based on the team that had the highest individual player rating.


What did the nerds at NBA 2K get right?

  1. Based on their numbers the Warriors clearly should have three-peated.  No one reading this would likely argue with that prediction had the Warriors remained healthy.  You didn’t exactly need to be Nostradamus to make that prediction.  
  2. The top two in each conference were spot on.  The Rockets clearly gave a healthy Warriors team (Prior to the Durant injury) their stiffest test.  At least right up until they did the typical Rocket thing and choked away the gift opportunity they had been given.  In the East, no one would dispute that the Sixers were the Raptors biggest (No pun intended) hurdle to overcome. The one-point difference in the teams’ overall ratings was just as close as the series ended up being.
  3. The Pistons and Magic had ratings that didn’t exactly profile like playoff teams.  Their combined 1-8 playoff record clearly reflected their ratings.

What did the nerds at NBA 2K get wrong?

  1. Based on the numbers, the Celtics should have been right there with the Raptors and Sixers.  That didn’t happen. After sweeping out the hobbled Pacers, the Celtics were steamrolled by Giannis and the Bucks.  Perhaps the NBA 2K people should be forgiven for not seeing the Kyrie Irving train wreck coming. On the other hand, Irving does think the world is flat and once abandoned the greatest player in the world today.
  2. To look at the ratings, the Blazers appeared to be a Western Conference doormat.  Instead, they first destroyed a much higher rated Thunder squad, and then followed that up by winning a seven-game thriller against a similarly rated Nuggets team.  Perhaps C.J. McCollum deserved a higher rating than one equal to Eric Bledsoe (Think Bucks fans would like to make that trade?). 

Lesson Learned

As you make your purchase and debate the full ratings with friends and family remember that the people at NBA 2K appear to be just like everybody else.  They get some things right, and they get some things wrong. Regardless, it will be shocking if by this metric the Sixers are not the highest-rated team in the East, if not in the entire league.

Here’s hoping that is on next year’s list of things NBA2K got right.

Featured Image: Odds.com.au
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