The NBA regular season is tipping off October 16th — that’s tonight — and fans will get to see their favorite teams lineup with their 2018-19 roster for the first time.
But fans of the “NBA 2K19” have already been enjoying the new rosters since last month, in video game form. “NBA 2K” is the world’s most meticulously-crafted basketball simulation and a new season means new ratings for more than 350 NBA players.
Basketball fans and players alike have always had a strong response to the 2K ratings, which take player tendencies, consistency and overall efficiency into account to come up with a final number. Players are given an overall rating on a 0-100 scale based on 30 different attributes. During the season the ratings are regularly adjusted to match the real-life performance of the players, to keep it as close to real life as possible.
While the players at the top of the overall rankings are household names, things start to get a bit more unpredictable as the list goes on. Without further ado, here are the 10 best players in the NBA, according to “NBA 2K19.”
10) Karl Anthony-Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves – 91 Overall
Now entering his fourth season in the NBA, the former #1 draft pick has emerged as one of the league’s premier big men. While his points per game fell with the Timberwolves’ addition of Jimmy Butler last season, Anthony-Towns showed development by improving his three-point shooting percentage and turning the ball over less.
9) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder – 93 Overall
Russell Westbrook followed up his MVP 2016-17 season by averaging a triple-double for the second consecutive year with 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game. The last player to average a triple-double for the entire season was Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson in 1962.
8) Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics – 93 Overall
Despite missing most of the 2017-18 season due to injury, Irving remains one of the most explosive offensive players in the NBA, and will return to a Celtics team that reached the East Conference Finals without his help. While the star has struggled to stay healthy over the course of the last three years, he has shown that he has what it takes to push a team into championship territory.
7) Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors – 94 Overall
Kawhi Leonard played just nine games last year after injuring his quad during the 2016-17 playoffs. Once considered to be the franchise player for the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard demanded a trade during the offseason after a disagreement over how the team handled his injury. After losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers four years in a row, the Raptors hope Leonard’s star power will help them overcome the hump.
6) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans – 94 Overall
Anthony Davis has developed into one of the most versatile players in the NBA, making the All-NBA first team three times over the last four seasons. Last season, his efforts propelled the New Orleans Pelicans to their first playoff series victory since 2008, when the team was still known as the Hornets.
5) Giannis Anteokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks – 94 Overall
Nicknamed the “Greek Freak,” the 23-year-old Anteokounmpo’s is considered one of the NBA’s up-and-coming superstars. With LeBron James now playing in the Western Conference, some consider Anteokounmpo the best player left in the East. Expect Anteokounmpo to turn even more heads as he graces the cover of the standard edition of “NBA 2K19.”
4) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – 95 Overall
While Curry has yet to put up the same mind-blowing numbers as we saw during the 2015-16 season, the Warriors guard is still the heart of the NBA’s reigning dynasty. He is still considered the league’s top shooter, and has learned to share scoring responsibilities with superstar teammate Kevin Durant.
3) James Harden, Houston Rockets – 96 Overall
Last season’s MVP led the league in scoring and helped the Rockets earn the best record in the Western Conference before falling short to the Warriors in the playoffs. Once considered a third fiddle to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Harden has proven that he is a superstar in his own right, and is determined to bring a championship to Houston.
2) Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors – 97 Overall
Though his decision to join the Warriors was controversial, Kevin Durant has backed it up by winning back-to-back NBA Championships with two Finals MVP trophies to go along with his rings. Durant’s status as an NBA superstar has rarely been in question, but with Golden State he is working to secure his legacy as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
1) LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers – 98 Overall
At age 33, LeBron had one of the best seasons of his career, playing in all 82 regular season games for the first time and leading the league in average minutes per game. James pushed an under-performing Cleveland Cavliers team through the playoffs to reach his eighth consecutive NBA Finals. The 20th anniversary cover of “NBA 2K19” celebrates James as a once-in-a- generation player, and perhaps the greatest of all time.