Those in charge of assigning ratings to NBA players in NBA 2K have enough data to work off of for the most part. The players in the game are based on their counterparts in real life, so a look at their style of play and stat sheets will be more than enough for them.
However, that’s not the case for rookies. Creating ratings for incoming rookies is kind of a shot in the dark as you never know what kind of jump they might make from amateur to pro. Moreover, people know even less so how their careers will pan out moving forward.
The NBA players on this list were given underwhelming ratings in their first appearances in 2K. But they either proved said rating wrong in their rookie years or gradually improved to become much better than their first season would suggest.
10 Paul George
Say what you will about his playoff blunders, but Paul George can do a lot of things on the basketball court. One of the best two-way players in the league today, PG13 can provide scoring in bunches on offense with his slick shot-creating abilities and explosive finishing at the rim. There’s also his ability to apply pressure on the opponent’s best player on defense.
That said, he wasn’t a star out the gate, only averaging 7.8 points per game his rookie year. He first appeared in NBA 2K11 with a modest rating of 70, but he’s grown to reach the high 80s and low 90s as of NBA 2K21.
9 Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard has a reputation of being underrated. Whether or not that label is deserved today is a debate for another time, but he was certainly underrated as a rookie. Being only a 2-star high school recruit and an alumnus of a mid-major college gave scouts a lot of doubts for his professional career. As a result, he was only given a 70 overall as a rookie in NBA 2K13.
He quickly proved to be much better than his rating showed, starting off his career strong with a Rookie of the Year award. He jumped up to a rating of 84 in 2K14 and has since become one of the greatest Portland Trail Blazers of all time and a modern superstar.
8 Andre Drummond
His value in the NBA has diminished over the last few years, but there was a time when Andre Drummond was a franchise player for the Detroit Pistons. He climbed to the All-NBA Third Team in 2016 and peaked in overall at the high 80s.
Regardless of where he is now, it’s still a far cry from his questionable rating of 59 in NBA 2K13. Scouting reports predicted he would be drafted earlier than 9th to the Pistons in 2012, considering he had a pretty good college career. He got that rating up fast to at least the 70s by reaching the All-NBA Rookie Team.
7 Draymond Green
People don’t expect second-round draft picks to amount to much and that does end up being the case most of the time. There are some anomalies in that respect, though, and Draymond Green is certainly one of them.
The Michigan State forward didn’t impress a lot of scouts — mainly due to his awkward size as a forward. He got drafted in the second round and started off as a 61 overall in NBA 2K13. Slowly but surely, he developed into one of the most important cogs in the Golden State Warriors dynasty as their defensive anchor and emotional leader. He reached the high 80s in 2K rating as said dynasty was at its peak.
6 Klay Thompson
Another member of the Warriors’ dynasty, the secondary Splash Brother has been recognized as one of the greatest shooters ever on top of his defensive abilities on the perimeter. He’s forged a great career having appeared in several All-Star games and in the 2015 and 2016 All-NBA Third Team. He has even broken several shooting records.
It took him a while to garner that attention though, as he wasn’t incredibly popular as a rookie. He was given a 69 overall and didn’t even start games when the Warriors still had fellow shooting guard Monta Ellis. After Ellis was traded, though, he was allowed to start and has since blossomed into the star people know of him now.
5 Nikola Jokic
It’s hard to properly assess incoming players that didn’t go to college and Nikola Jokic was one such prospect. He probably had enough skill to perform out the gate, but he came into the league infamously out of shape. Stories circulated of him unable to do more than a single push-up.
That made him fall to the second round, giving him a 68 overall in his first appearance in NBA 2K16. He’s proven said scouts wrong by getting himself into shape and making use of his unique abilities as a superstar-level center with point guard skills. He’s since become a 90+ overall player and has been in MVP conversations for the 2020-21 season.
4 DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan has a case for being the greatest Toronto Raptor ever, but his career trajectory didn’t look like that as a rookie. Drafted 9th by the Raptors in 2009, he started out with a measly 64 rating in NBA 2K10. His rookie year, while not bad, didn’t do much to increase that as he only averaged 8.6 points a game.
He gradually climbed up the ranks of NBA shooting guards since that rookie year and eventually became their franchise player. He led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016. Though he’s had quite a few playoff disappointments in his career, he’s still been highly touted as one of the Raptors’ best all-time players and a consistent 85+ overall player.
3 Stephen Curry
Chef Curry’s rise to the top of the NBA food chain has been, if nothing else, explosive. There seemed to be a period in his career where he improved drastically every season, becoming a star in 2013, an All-Star in 2014, an MVP in 2015, and having maybe the greatest individual season ever in 2016.
Of course, that drastic improvement has to start somewhere. It’s hard to imagine now, but he wasn’t a highly touted prospect as an incoming rookie with many doubting his size and ability to properly play point guard. He started off as a 69 overall in NBA 2K10 before eventually peaking at the mid-90s during his back-to-back MVP stretch.
2 Giannis Antetokounmpo
Another recent back-to-back MVP, there was once a time when Giannis Antetokounmpo was just that fascinating NBA rookie with hardly any skill. All people thought he had was a long, scrawny body and a difficult-to-pronounce last name. The Milwaukee Bucks took a chance on him in the 2013 NBA Draft with the 15th overall pick and he started as a 60 overall in that year’s NBA 2K14.
After taking his time to develop, The Greek Freak basically made the Bucks successful singlehandedly and has had arguments for being the best player in the league. It helped that he started off with a near 7’0 frame, 7’3 wingspan, and incredible athleticism. But the strides he made skill-wise granted him a 95+ overall at the start of the 2020’s decade.
1 Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert isn’t the superstar that Stephen Curry and Giannis are, but he is still a star in his own right. What gives him the highest-ranking on this list is his infamously low 52 overall rating in NBA 2K14.
Giving him a lower rating compared to the other rookies of that draft class made sense considering he didn’t get much spin on his professional team prior to the NBA. But giving him such a low rating was a bit much. Regardless, he’s blossomed into a consistently high 80s overall player anyway as a former Defensive Player of the Year and star for the Utah Jazz.
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