As is annual tradition, one of the biggest talking points surrounding the upcoming NBA 2K23 from developer Visual Concepts and 2K Sports is the all-important player ratings.
The team behind the ratings rolled out the red carpet ahead of the game's release on Friday. In response, fans immediately engaged in the expected debates and huge names such as Kevin Durant commented publicly on the matter.
As most could reasonably expect, two-time MVP and Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the top overall players list with a 97 overall:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, 97
- LeBron James, 96
- Stephen Curry, 96
- Kevin Durant, 96
- Nikola Jokic, 96
- Joel Embiid, 96
- Luka Doncic, 95
- Kawhi Leonard, 94
- Ja Morant, 93
- Jayson Tatum, 93
Antetokounmpo just nudged Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James as the game's top-rated forward. It's Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors heading up all guards with a similar 96.
Two-time and reigning MVP Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets is the first name among the centers at 96, though Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers is technically right there with the same rating, too.
One might also notice Durant checking in at a 96, though he didn't seem too thrilled about it:
Since they wouldn't crack the top overall players at any position just yet, the ratings gurus also made a point to throw out the numbers for the top rookies:
- Paolo Banchero, 78
- Jabari Smith Jr., 78
- Chet Holmgren, 77
- Keegan Murray, 76
- Jaden Ivey, 76
The team at 2K Sports did much more than just throw out overalls, too. The hotly debated top dunkers in the game checks in as follows:
- Ja Morant, 97
- Zion Williamson, 97
- Anthony Edwards, 95
- Zach LaVine, 95
- Aaron Gordon, 95
Regardless of how fans and would-be players feel about the ratings, it's always critical this time of year to throw out the reminder that these initial ratings can and will change quickly once the action starts to unfold on the court.
Speaking of action on the court, that's a major emphasis for the team at 2K Sports this year. Hence the presence of an upgraded pro stick that gives more power to players who like to slash toward the basket after last year's upgrades mostly helped perimeter scorers. This means more options in the hands of players and undoubtedly more hop-steps and various styles of finishes at the rim.
That's not to say highly rated players like Curry go without attention, though. There are five new shot meters to choose from and new mechanics impacting whether a shot hits, such as release height and shot speed.
Granted, a star like LeBron in the hands of players with unlimited, enhanced slashing mechanics would be totally unfair in most situations.
To combat the balance issue, this year marks the first shakeup to the stamina system. Players get three stamina charges per possession now, which deplete based on moves and number of sprints performed.
As if all that weren't enough, players get to throw their favorite stars onto the hardcourt across a variety of different game modes and difficulties. That latter point is important to stress—there is now a “Semi-Pro” difficulty that acts as the second difficulty setting. The lone one before it, the "Rookie" setting, will apparently get an overhaul to make the new player onboarding process smoother, too.
Like every year, the buzz around the release of player ratings that generates hype for the latest NBA 2K game tends to overshadow the new features and upgrades. It should, at least momentarily, but this year's game especially sounds like it will provide a boost to the overall experience as the series continues to evolve on next-generation consoles.