NBA 2K19 is less than a week away from its release.
So, now is a good time to analyze preliminary player rankings before the season begins. In this two-part series, we will give you the players whose rankings do not quite feel right based on last season’s play.
Part two will focus on the players who were given too much credit.
Ben Simmons – 87 overall
The reigning “Rookie” of the Year won that particular vote in one of the most contested player award races in recent memory. To drive that point home even further, Donovan Mitchell, who Simmons beat out to win it, has the exact same rating, at 87.
With the controversy of his rookie status aside, this rating is much too high for one reason: The man cannot shoot the basketball.
Sure, he collected 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game in his first full season, which is impressive. It speaks to his athleticism and his potential to be a generational talent. His 6-foot-10 frame is a rarity at the point guard spot, and he has the blessing of Magic Johnson, the best “big” point guard to play the game.
But he is a miserable scorer from anywhere except directly under the basket. He attempted 11 three-pointers over the course of the season and made none of them. Zero.
In the Sixers’ two playoff series Simmons took a total of eight shots outside of the paint and made only three of them. Compare that to 42 of 76 from inside the paint (55.3 percent), and he is a one-trick pony offensively.
Philadelphia’s defense was very good last year, and while that was not in spite of Simmons, it was not because of him, either. His 1.7 steals are typical of a young, athletic guard, but he fell short of one block per game, which is not great for a huge point guard who is most comfortable in the paint.
In a league that has embraced the three-point shot from every player on the court, the point position needs to be able to knock it down. If not, then Simmons should at least be able to bail his team out by being a serviceable mid-range shooter. Until he develops a shot, he doesn’t deserve to be more than an 81, purely due to his athleticism.
DeAndre Jordan – 86 overall
Last year, as the sole remaining member of Lob City, Jordan was still a good player. He was just left on an odd, directionless team. The cracks in his game started to show when he was not surrounded by great talent. The move to Dallas will probably only exacerbate that problem.
The center turned 30 this summer, and his production took a dip last season, especially on defense. He averaged less than one block per game for the second time in his career. Considering most of his value comes from his shot-blocking and lane-clogging ability, it appears that his game is starting to show cracks while not surrounded by other great talent.
His rebounding is still good, at 15.2 per game, and he finally cracked the 50 percent mark on his free throw shooting last year. But he took only 4.1 free throws per contest.
The true center is losing its place in today’s NBA, and Jordan is a prototypical center. He does not have a lot of use in the throes of a video game contest, either. Like Simmons, he is unreliable at best outside of the paint, and his defense will only be as good as the team surrounding him.
Jordan probably belongs in the range of 80-81.
Kyle Lowry – 85 overall
I like Kyle Lowry as a player. I think he can be an effective piece on a team that needs an athletic one-guard. But a go-to option he is not. Not on offense or defense.
With the addition of Kawhi Leonard (94 overall) and the departure of DeMar DeRozan (89 overall), Lowry sits as the second-highest rated Raptor on the roster.
But last year, his scoring took a big hit as he continues to try and be a distributor. He scored at a clip of 16.2 points per game, which was his lowest since 2012-13. His assists sat at just below seven per game. Lowry also failed to hit the three-pointer at 40 percent, while his two-point percentage was below 50 percent.
From a 2K standpoint, most players are going to want Leonard to run the offense when playing with the Raptors, leaving little room for Lowry to be useful. The 85 rating seems outdated, as no one knows what Lowry’s role on the team will be without DeRozan, who moves so well without the ball.
An 81 feels about right, which does not look like a huge discrepancy, but once you get to the 80s, ratings points become harder and harder to come by, giving each point more weight.
Jayson Tatum – 87 overall
This one, like Lowry, also hurts. Tatum was great last year in a role that probably would not have been as big if Gordon Hayward hadn’t broken his leg in the first quarter of the season.
The jump from 82 last year to 87, though, feels too generous. The forgotten man in the Rookie of the Year race proved he belongs in a starting lineup, but he doesn’t have the raw athleticism of Simmons or the two-way capability of Mitchell. And any rating 85 and above puts you in the “star player” conversation.
Tatum’s 5.0 rebounds per game are not impressive, any way you slice it. Teams need more boards from a combo forward position. Tatum’s real litmus test will be if he manages to keep up his 13.9 points per game scoring pace once Gordon Hayward returns to the lineup. Hayward, as a pure shooter, is going to take touches and three-point attempts away from Tatum (who converted threes at a 43.4 percent clip in his rookie year).
If he can continue his scoring pace and step up his defense, then I would be inclined to give him an 85. But in a 2K game, he could easily be the forgotten option. As he stands now, I think an 83 suits him best.
Featured image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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