With the start of the new year we’re close to the halfway point of the 2018-19 NBA season, and the league’s best players are reaching their peak as the all-star break approaches.
Every year, fans vote for their favourite players to participate in All-Star Weekend, but the voting process is a better judge of popularity than actual skill. So where can NBA faithfuls find more objective ratings of the league’s top talent? In video games; “NBA 2K19” is the world’s most meticulously-crafted basketball simulation and uses statistics to adjust ratings for more than 350 NBA players throughout the season.
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.
— NBA 2K19 (@NBA2K) July 20, 2018
2k rating is disrespectful. Y’all will learn though ????????????????
— kuz (@kylekuzma) July 20, 2018
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 right now, according to “NBA 2K19.”
10) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers – 92 Overall
After making the All-NBA 1st Team in 2018, the former Rookie of the Year looks to be in peak form this season. Portland is once again in the center of the Western Conference playoff hunt and Lillard is leading the team in scoring, assists, and minutes played per game.
Prior to the start of the season, the Lakers were rumoured to be exploring trades to pair Lillard with LeBron James in Los Angeles. Lillard is originally from Oakland, but signed with the Trail Blazers through the 2020-21 season.
9) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder – 92 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.
After exiting the playoffs in the first round the past two seasons, Oklahoma City is one of the leading contenders in the Western Conference as the all-star break approaches.
8) Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics – 92 Overall
Despite missing most of the 2017-18 season due to an injury, Irving remains one of the most explosive offensive players in the NBA and returned 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) James Harden, Houston Rockets – 94 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.
Harden helped the Rockets recover from a rocky 1-5 start to the season, as all-star guard Chris Paul recovers from injury.
6) Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors – 95 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 in the playoffs four years in a row, the Raptors hope Leonard’s star power will help them overcome the hump and push them to the top of the Eastern Conference.
5) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans – 95 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.
With the Pelicans struggling to compete in the Western Conference, many NBA analysts speculate that Davis could be headed to the Lakers or Celtics via a trade by next season.
4) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks – 95 Overall
Antetokounmpo is the cover star of “NBA 2K19” and with good reason. Nicknamed the “Greek Freak,” the 24-year-old Anteokounmpo’s is considered the NBA’s next superstar. With LeBron James now playing in the Western Conference, some consider Anteokounmpo the best player left in the East, and his Milwaukee Bucks are currently the top team in the conference.
3) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – 96 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 he’s learned to share scoring responsibilities with superstar teammate Kevin Durant.
Most would consider Durant to be superior overall player, but it’s clear that the Warriors are at their best when Curry is at the top of his game.
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 in 2017-18, 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 Cavaliers team through the playoffs to reach his eighth consecutive NBA Finals.
After arriving in Los Angeles, James has pushed a young team into the heat of playoff contention and leads the league in all-star voting. The 20th anniversary cover of “NBA 2K19” celebrates James as a once-in-a- generation player, and perhaps the greatest of all time.
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