Every year, 2K Sports offers NBA player ratings in its NBA 2K videogame franchise that infuriate, vex, and confuse well-meaning fans of all levels of gaming acumen.
Being a (very) casual gamer and a (very) dedicated Blazers fan, I probably lie at the wrong side of people 2K Sports wants to please. My supposition is that they care a heck of a lot more about the people who will actually buy the game and play it. No gripe there.
The way their ratings have changed over the years, however, does seem a little weird. And I don’t mean that they’ve changed (you’d hope so) or even the methods by which they determine those ratings have changed (you’d expect as much). No, it’s just that the changes don’t seem fair, and don’t seem to make for a funner game.
Case in point: LaMarcus Aldridge clocks in with an 84 rating for 2K14 (Click here for a full list of player ratings). That’s one point less than Andre Iguodala and just 2 points ahead of the shell of Kevin Garnett, but it’s also the same rating as Damian Lillard, which I don’t think is appropriate… yet. Maybe more baffling is that Aldridge is a full 15 points below LeBron James.
Is there anyone that actually thinks that the gulf between King James and Aldridge is EIGHT TIMES LARGER than that between Aldridge and Garnett? I don’t.
Speaking of James, The Real NBA 2K Insider has an interesting article on LeBron’s progression as he came in through the league until 2009. James’ mid-range game got bizarre ratings that often didn’t reflect his abilities. For example, James shot just 34% from mid-range but got a 91 mid rating in 2007. Compare that to the end of 2012, when James shot a near career-high 39% between 16 and 23 feet and 47% between 10 and 15 feet, and yet his rating for mid-range in 2K13 was just 90.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t followed the progression closely enough, but it seems that back in the early aughts (or whatever we’re deciding to call the 2000s) that the ratings made more sense. There was more parity at the top. Sure, there were players you’d try to snag who you knew would dominate (Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and Shaq come to mind in 2001), but it also seemed that you could get that kind of player even if you had the misfortune of falling to 8th or 9th for your first pick in the draft.
With these newer games, it kind of seems like you have 3 tiers: the majority of the NBA; a handful of good NBA players; and LeBron James. I, for one, would like to see a more robust upper tier that doesn’t put one player miles ahead of all others.
So what can we say about this years’ ratings? Pretty much the same for what we can say about ratings from every other year: take them with a grain of salt, because they’re not always accurate. These games aren’t meant to be precise statistical reflections of a player’s ability; they’re meant to be played, to be fun, and for the players to more or less “feel” like themselves when they’re playing them. If that means the coding and in-game physics need to be a little wonky in order for the end result to be fun, so be it.
However flawed the ratings may be, let’s just hope that there are no biased programmers on their staff like the classic NBA Jam. Apparently, the game was coded so that if you were playing as the Bulls against the Pistons and the clock was winding down, you’d have a hard time making a shot. Hilarious? Sure. Diabolical? Yes.
Epilogue: CJ McCollum recently found out his rating will be 73 and was pretty stoked by it:
I was blessed with a 73 rating on 2k confirmed by @Ronnie2K . Not a bad start to my 2k legacy. Look forward to improving it
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) September 13, 2013