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.
Today, we will deal with the players who we feel were sold short.
LeBron James – 98 overall
I know what you’re thinking. How could a 98 possibly be considered too low of a rating?
An easy answer to an easy question.
James is the highest rated player in 2K19. If the developers knew this was going to be the case, why not just give him a 99? What they are saying here is that no one in the NBA is worthy of the 99 rating, which is more a slight to the entire NBA than it is to James.
I am a fan of grading on a curve. So, if 2k Sports thought LeBron deserved a 98, but knew he would be the highest rated player, why not just bump him up that extra point? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. The best player in the league should have a 99. Once that is established, then let the other players fall where they may below that.
Make no mistake though, one point when you are talking about the high 90s is akin to 10-15 points in the 60s and 70s. But if anyone in the entire league is worthy of being awarded that extra clout, is it not LeBron James?
Lest we forget, James had one of his best seasons last year, at age 33. He posted 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds, playing on one of the most underwhelming teams to reach the NBA Finals in recent memory. LeBron willed that team past the rest of the Eastern Conference, and even though they were swept, not one iota of that blame should go to the King. He is still arguably the toughest matchup in the Association in a one-on-one scenario, and his jump shot is only getting better.
Stats aside, this one is common sense. Give the man a 99. He deserves it.
Ricky Rubio – 77 overall
Rubio is thriving in Quin Snyder’s system in Utah.
He had a career high points per game average last year, at 13.1. Couple that with a second-best in rebounds per game average (4.6), and you have a legitimate resurgence on your hands.
Even though he had a career low in assists last year, he is still one of the premier passers in the league. The 5.3 assists per game versus his previous assists numbers that average out to be around 8.5 per game, is probably due to the sheer greatness that was Donovan Mitchell last year. Rubio was only the primary ball handler about half the time he was on the court, compared to virtually 100 percent of the time while he was in Minnesota.
That caused him to have to finally hone his shot, which he did. His three-point average was the highest it has ever been in 2018, even though he took more three-pointers than he ever had.
Snyder’s system, the decreased passing pressure and the one-man movement that is Mitchell have all made Rubio better. This should translate to at least an 82.
Kristaps Porzingis – 88 overall
Understandably, this rating was probably hurt because the Unicorn will be coming back from an ACL tear. This is a ridiculously hard injury from which to return at 100 percent, especially for a 7-foot-3 shooter like Porzingis.
In his injury-shortened season, he further honed his scoring prowess, which is where the meat of this argument lies. Porzingis is a perimeter-focused player’s best friend in 2K. He can simply knock it down from deep (he shot almost 40 percent from deep in 2018).
Any three-and-D specialist will tell you how frustrating it is to pass the ball out, only to find the ball in the hands of your center, because he cannot run in transition as well as the guards.
That is not a problem with Porzingis. He can live down low, or behind the arc, while still being a serviceable mid-range option. Simply put, he is a prototypical offensive Band-Aid that can bail you out of most any bad decision.
For that, he deserves to be in the 90s. If he was not coming back from that ACL tear, I would be happy with a 94. As is, though, a 90 or 91 sounds right for someone whose skill set was made for a video game.
Victor Oladipo – 88 overall
Oladipo won Most Improved Player in 2018, and deservedly so. He also jumped up nine points from a 79 to an 88 from 2K18 to 2K19.
That is a monumental increase, but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t enough.
Oladipo is the number one option on his team, and probably would be on five to 10 other teams in the league. His defense is only getting better and better every year. His three-point and two point shot percentages were both career highs, despite taking more shots than ever before. His steals and rebounds were also career highs, putting his 2018 season in revelation status.
All of these factors combine to make him a go-to option for players that enjoy playing on-ball defense and thrive in pick-and-roll situations.
Bottom line, he should be around a 93. Oladipo can be an unstoppable force in the hands of the right player.
Featured image courtesy of USA TODAY FTW
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