While the NBA 2K17 is coming, the 2015/16 NBA season will surely be remembered as one of the most dramatic of all time.
Deciding the player stats for NBA 2K must be a thankless task. Estimations can be made, of course, but there’s no way 2K Sports could have known that Steph Curry would turn Super Saiyan, or that young Andre Drummond would set the season-high record for consecutive double-doubles (13).
We saw the Golden State Warriors become the most dominant regular season squad ever, Kobe Bryant wave one final, heroic goodbye, the Oklahoma Thunder spurn a golden chance to win it all, and the Cleveland Cavaliers finally – finally – break the curse and secure their first ever NBA Championship.
Who emerged stronger from one of the most chaotic NBA seasons of all time? Now it’s time to re-evaluate. These are the ten players most deserving of a stat boost for NBA 2K17, from hot young rookies to seasoned veterans. Let’s hope this season is a little more run-of-the-mill than last, or we’ll end up looking a little foolish…
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwuakee Bucks
The ‘Greek Freak’ had the best season of his young NBA career last year, upping his scoring, rebounding, assisting, and field goal percentage rates.
Although the Bucks didn’t make the 2016 playoffs, they’ll be much better positioned to do so next year if Giannis continues to improve. He remains a match-up problem for every other team in the league, given his incredible wingspan and tendency to play against much smaller opponents in the backcourt.
Antetokounmpo’s efforts were rewarded with third place in the Most Improved ballot for 2015/16, and should see his 2K rating of 79 receive a similarly healthy boost too.
2. Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers
We all knew that Kyrie Irving was one of the best point guards in the NBA, but last season saw the Australian-born Cavalier step up when it really mattered – the playoffs.
Although statistically Irving had a slightly worse campaign than 2014/15, he ramped up his output in the postseason, scoring an average of 6 more points than the previous year.
Crucially, he also managed to avoid injury this time around, and was an undisputedly instrumental part of Cleveland’s eventual triumph. His 2k16 rating of 87 looks a little too low in my book.
3. Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons
From the moment Andre Drummond was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2012, he was earmarked for success. He’s always had the natural potential to be the league’s next dominant centre, but this season really started to take strides in the right direction.
Still only 22, Drummond enjoyed a breakout campaign. He earned his first All Star nomination, and set the season-high record for most consecutive double-doubles with 13.
As well as this newfound consistency, he also enjoyed some dominant single-game performances. On December 18th, he recorded 33 points and 21 rebounds in a quadruple-overtime win against the Chicago Bulls.
For the past two 2K instalments, Drummond has been stuck with an 83 rating. An increase is surely overdue.
4. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
Over the past three seasons, Kemba Walker’s NBA 2K rating has decreased by a single point each year. He must surely have stopped the rot with an impressive 2015/16 campaign, which saw the point guard top 20 points per game for the first time in his career. He also improved his shot-selection, raising his field goal percentage from .385 to .427 – as well as improving from three-point land and the free-throw line.
Walker’s efforts saw him finish runner-up in the ballot for the league’s Most Improved player of the year. He also played a key role in the Hornets’ unfortunate, thrilling 4-3 defeat in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs.
His 81 2K16 rating is sure to increase, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the Bronx native can carry his momentum into next season.
5. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
When Draymond Green looks back upon his career, he’ll probably remember 2014/15 a lot more fondly than 2015/16 – such is the transformative nature of winning an NBA Championship.
However, in purely personal terms, the 6’7″ power forward enjoyed a far more impressive campaign last time around. Versatile players are often overlooked, and Green’s 2K16 rating of 82 can probably be attributed to this. He doesn’t have the range of Klay Thompson or the once-in-a-generation talent of Steph Curry, but the strings to his bow are numerous.
Green can shoot, rebound, assist, and play elite lockdown defence – and did all those things even better a season after winning the big one. Hopefully 2K recognise this, as he’s probably the most underrated player on this list.
6. C.J. McCollum – Portland Trailblazer
We’ve already mentioned two of last season’s most improved players on the list – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kemba Walker – so it only makes sense that C.J. McCollum would find his way on here too.
The shooting guard deservedly won the Most Improved award for 2015/16, and a cursory glance at his stat line tells most of the story. McCollum clearly came into last season a different beast, and was rewarded with double the playing time – scoring 14 more points a game in the process.
His rebounding, assisting, and even free throw percentage improved, betraying a newfound focus and confidence. C.J. has been stuck on a 72 rating for the past three instalments of NBA 2K, but could be in for the biggest increase of anybody on this list.
7. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
It sounds strange to suggest that NBA 2K16′s highest-rated player should be in for a stat boost, but LeBron James’ astonishing 2016 post-season deserves nothing less.
The King reclaimed his throne, again establishing himself as one of the most dominant forces in NBA history – and, crucially, finally delivered an NBA Championship to the downtrodden city of Cleveland.
Although not the most impressive player of the regular season, James’ playoff performances were utterly spellbinding at times, and served as a stark reminder of his incredible talent. This – coupled with a newer, tougher mentality – makes his 94 rating seem a little short. It’s also worth remembering that LeBron is still only 31 years old. Truly frightening.
8. Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Number one draft picks are always a tricky type of player to rate. Some ascend to greatness in an astonishingly short space of time, while others prove to be disappointing busts.
Karl-Anthony Towns was given a modest 78 rating in NBA 2K16, but surpassed expectations by proving himself a dominant presence on both ends of the court. A legitimate seven-footer with fantastic scoring and rebounding potential (he averaged a double-double), he was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year.
The Timberwolves could well have something special on their hands, and it’d be nice to see Towns given a much better rating in the next instalment of the game.
9. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks
An almighty furore began when Kristaps Porzingis was drafted by the long-suffering New York Knicks last year. To say the reaction was scathing would be an understatement, as the young Latvian was heavily booed by his own fans. This may have factored into his lowly 74 NBA 2K16 rating.
Porzingis vowed to change opinion, and set about doing exactly that. He has since proved himself a very capable scorer, rebounder, and outside shooter – drawing comparisons to fellow European Pau Gasol.
Although finishing second to Karl-Anthony Towns in Rookie of the Year standings, Porzingis overcame a torrent of negativity in his debut season, and should see his stock rise in the virtual realm too.
10. Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors
Curry’s 92 rating in NBA 2K16 seemed dead on the money. The point guard had enjoyed a breakout 2014/15 campaign, firmly establishing himself as the key cog of a historically great team, and one of the best players of his generation.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t high enough at all. The point guard went on to enjoy an even better season, leading the Golden State Warriors to the best regular season record in NBA history, and earning a unanimously-voted MVP award in the process.
Of course, the Warriors were dramatically vanquished by the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s NBA Finals, but this shouldn’t take away from the heights Curry scaled on a regular basis. “Playing like he’s in a video game” is an overused American sports cliche, but in Steph’s case it can be regarded as entirely appropriate.
He should unquestionably be the highest-rated player in NBA 2K17, perhaps sharing joint-honours with LeBron James. Either way, 92 – as ridiculous as it sounds – is far too low.
All above is just a list of players who most deserving of a stat boost for NBA 2K17, we will continue to observe their performance continuously.