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The Nuggets Real 2K Ratings & Progression Predictions

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With NBA 2K20 officially releasing today, I wanted to take a semi-deep dive into how the video game rated our Denver Nuggets. 2K’s ratings seem to paint Denver as a 4-6 seed in the west despite only finishing behind the loaded Warriors last season. Denver brought back all their major contributors and will be adding Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr. to their rotation. I see no reason why their roster should reflect a middle of the pack playoff team. So, if you’re wondering why most of my ratings are higher than 2K’s, it is because I think of the 2019-2020 Denver Nuggets as a budding contender.

I will be offering context for the Nuggets player ratings by comparing them to other players throughout the Association. I will also provide my opinion on which of their skills have been evaluated correctly and incorrectly. In other words, I wouldn’t think of this as a video game article. Instead, consider this a piece focused on analyzing basketball. I just happen to be doing it by assigning numerical values to skills.

For those interested, each positional heading will be linked to the top 50 players at each position according to 2K20. Although I do not necessarily agree with all of the ratings, they will be used as a reference point throughout. Additionally, it should be noted that the end of season rating predictions are based off my ratings, not the official 2K overalls.

*All statistics via Basketball-Reference

*All ratings via 2kRatings.com


Point Guards:

Jamal Murray

Official 2K20 rating: 84

My rating: 84

End of season prediction: 86

Murray’s current overall rating puts him directly between the likes of Eric Bledsoe (85) and Malcolm Brogdon (83). Before the playoffs, I would have had Murray at an 82, but he earned himself an 83 with a slightly less efficient, better all-around postseason. Comparing his post and regular seasons, his assists were down 0.1 per game (4.8-4.7), but his turnovers went down more significantly (2.1-1.6). The AST/TO he almost reached is what I would consider the baseline you want from a starting PG (3/1). His plus/minues also increased by 1.5, offensive rating went up by 5, Player Efficiency Rating increased by 3.4. His defense is what it is and 2K’s ratings reflect that. The 84 rating comes from the expectation that his trend of improvement will continue into year 4. Bet on Jamal to take minor steps forward in most aspects of his game, earning himself a two point rating increase over the course of the season. This would put him into the all-star snub tier of PG’s along side players like D’Angelo Russell (87), Mike Conley (87), and Jrue Holiday (86).

Also, how can this man only have a 40 dunk rating?

Monte Morris

Official 2K20 rating: 77

My rating: 79

End of season prediction: 80

As a 77, Monte ranks around the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay (76) and Collin Sexton (77). It’s safe to say he’s too low. Before he regressed slightly at the end of the season and into the playoffs, I would have put him at an 80. There are many factors that went into this drop-off, but it can’t just be ignored. This is why I have him starting the year at a 79, before regaining the 80. Monte provides exactly what you want from a traditional point guard, creating for others without giving the ball to the other team, hitting open shots, and playing smart team defense (which makes up for him being slightly undersized). His IQ and playmaking should be upgraded. Morris displays a great understanding of the game, rarely making mistakes. He also had the second best AST/TO ratio in the entire league last year. Despite this, his attributes are very close to Murray’s in both categories. An increase to these aspects would put his rating right where it belongs, among the best backup point guards in the league alongside VanVleet (79) and Rose (80).


Shooting Guards:

Gary Harris

Official 2K20 rating: 79

My rating: 82

End of season prediction: 85

Gary’s rating is fairly accurate if evaluating purely how he played last season without considering he was injured for most of it. Gary never fully came back to form and it was apparent that both his explosion and shooting were suffering because of it. Look out for those aspects of his game to return. In addition to them, he is a decent secondary playmaker and debatably Denver’s best perimeter defender. 2K20’s ratings say that Gary is less athletic than Jamal Murray, has similar shooting attributes to Paul Millsap, and that there isn’t much to separate him and Will Barton defensively. An upgrade in the attributes relating to all these categories could account for the difference between mine and 2K’s evaluation’s. They have him as an equal to Jeremy Lamb in terms of overall rating. If he stays healthy, Gary should be in the same conversation as Devin Booker (86) and Khris Middleton (85). The 82 is my conservative initial rating considering he’s had so many injury issues the last couple years.

Will Barton

Official 2K20 rating: 78

My rating: 78

End of season prediction: 80

You can basically copy & paste what I just wrote about Gary playing injured last season here, except 2K actually seemed to realize it this time and gave him a higher initial rating than what he actually played at last season. Barton seemed to be affected even more than Gary was. Considering it was his first major surgery, that can be expected. As i just touched on, Barton’s defense is rated too highly in this game. He is inconsistent on that end, but average overall. They also have him as one of the very worst mid range shooters on the team. He is not elite from mid range by any means, but taking down his defense while making his mid range respectable should even out to the 78 we both have him at.

Malik Beasley

Official 2K20 rating: 77

My rating: 78

End of season prediction: 79

Beasley is about as athletic as Murray according to 2K. Jamal is no slouch in terms of burst, but Malik might be the best athlete on the team. This needs to be obvious in his attributes. His offensive abilities are well represented, but his defensive IQ attributes might be higher than reality. The ratings reflect a slightly higher defensive awareness than what Beasley showed last season. On-ball he is a solid defender, but he has mental lapses off-ball a bit too frequently. Significantly upgrading his athleticism, while slightly lower his team defense attributes should result in a 1 point increase. I can see Malik taking a much bigger leap than I’m predicting here, but I don’t think he will get the opportunity to. I’m expecting him to have the same role as most of last year and be slightly better at it. As a 79, he would be in the same category as two of the best shooters in the league, J.J. Redick (80) and Joe Harris (78).

P.J. Dozier

Official 2K20 rating: 67

My rating: 69

End of season prediction: 70

It feels odd to write about P.J. Dozier without having watched much more than highlights and glancing over stats. Add in that his contract isn’t guaranteed and the Nuggets have reportedly been tied to Joe Johnson and it becomes even more unclear if P.J. will remain on the team. I will say that I believe P.J. came out of college too early and it showed his rookie year. In his sophomore year last season, however, he lit up the G League (21.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists) and I could very well see him turning into a Will Barton type player eventually.


Small Forwards:

Michael Porter Jr.

Official 2K20 rating: 76

My rating: 76

End of season prediction: 78

This rating is very difficult, as almost all of MPJ’s minutes at Missouri were post-injury. I fully expect his shooting to translate, but that’s the only aspect I have confidence predicting. I would raise his shooting attributes and put minor dips in his playmaking and defense for now. To me, the key for Porter Jr. is to stay in his lane this year. Accepting a role as mostly a spot up shooter is his best chance of cracking the starting lineup in his rookie season. I think the year off rehabbing and adjusting to the NBA lifestyle will pay dividends. Expect just as many flashes of greatness as rookie moments for Micheal. He is certainly a dark horse for rookie of the year, but his usage and minutes probably won’t allow him to produce the flashier numbers many voters like to see. Progressing to a 78 would put him on a similar level as Kelly Oubre (78) and Harrison Barnes (79).

Juancho Hernangomez

Official 2K20 rating: 74

My rating: 76

End of season prediction: 76

It was a tale of two seasons for Juancho. He started off the year as almost the perfect 4th/5th option in our starting lineup. Then he suffered a core injury sometime around the mid point of the season and played through it. Those beautiful jumpers stopped falling at often, and his entire game was negatively influenced by the core issues. It’s tough to predict our lineup next season. The Juancho we saw the first couple months of last season would be a 78 in my book, I’m just not sure he will get enough minutes to showcase that again this upcoming one. Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with potentially having the same overall rating as Trevor Ariza (76) and Jae Crowder (76).

Torrey Craig

Official 2K20 rating: 74

My rating: 75

End of season prediction: 74

Torrey is a defensive specialist that doesn’t offer too much on the offensive side. This doesn’t always translate well to video games. You could say this about most players, but when Torrey’s shot is falling his rating would be considerably higher than this. His hustle and defense can always be relied on, but when he can knock down his jumpers it takes his contributions to another level. I think he will continue to be inconsistent offensively, but 2k doesn’t actual rate his perimeter defense as highly as I do. Which is why I have him 1 overall higher than they do. I don’t see as many minutes available for him this season, which is the only reason I have his rating dropping by 1. It will be harder to find a rythm if he’s not getting consistent minutes and his offensive numbers could drop slightly because of that. Players in TC3’s mold are almost always underrated and integral pieces in contenders. He might be in and out of the lineup this year, but if an opposing wing needs to be locked up, Torrey is one of the better options in the league.

Vlatko Cancar

Official 2K20 rating: 70

My rating: 70

End of season prediction: 70

2K was spot on here, giving him a higher rating than I expected. Vlatko’s numbers won’t jump out at you, but they don’t tell the entire story. I could see him becoming the next Linas Kleiza for these Nuggets based on his understanding of the game. Unfortunately, I don’t see him spending a lot of time in the g-league or playing in NBA games this year. Most of his development will come from practicing. So, while I fully expect him to be a better player by the end of the season, there shouldn’t be much evidence of it for the public. This would result in his rating remaining unchanged over the course of the season.


Power Forwards:

Paul Millsap

Official 2K20 rating: 82

My rating: 84

End of season prediction: 83

If I were basing this rating solely off Kyle Kuzma’s 84 overall, Paul would be in the high 80’s. Instead, I’m gonna chalk that one up to 2K overrating a player on a large market team. On the other side, Millsap continues to be criminally underrated. He isn’t his prime anymore, but his slight drop-offs statistically say more about his reduced role than decreased effectiveness. His age should continue to be a slight factor, which is why I didn’t have him as an 85. Regardless, his game is based more on IQ than athleticism which bodes well for him moving forward. Much in the same vein that Jokic elevates our entire offense, Paul is the heart of our defense. Him playing 32 more games than 2017-2018 may have been the biggest factor in our defense jumping from 23rd to 10th in defensive rating. Grant will cut into his minutes this season, but don’t expect a dramatic fall off. My initial 84 rating puts him closer to Draymond Green (86). While 2K’s rating has him closer to Serge Ibaka (81).

Jerami Grant

Official 2K20 rating: 77

My rating: 79

End of season prediction: 81

Grant shouldn’t get quite as many minutes as he did in Oklahoma City, but he should benefit from a more free-flow offense than the one led by Paul George and Russell Westbrook last season. 2K seems to think he’s only an average defender, but his ability to guard the paint and perimeter doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. Because his offensive and rebounding ratings are pretty spot on, the increases in defense would account for the 2 point rise in rating. Some natural progression and playing in our offensive scheme should account for the additional 2 points by the end of season.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Official 2K20 rating: 70

My rating: 71

End of season prediction: 71

Much like Vlatko, Jarred probably won’t have many opportunities to increase his rating this season. 2K already has his handles at above average for a player of his size to go with solid defense. They also have him as a fairly strong rebounder, but I still think it should be raised to properly reflect his 17.2 rebounds per 36 minutes in the G-league last year. In my opinion, his potential rating should be higher though. I could honestly could see him becoming a Lamar Odom or Draymond Green level of player in the future.

Tyler Cook

Official 2K20 rating: N/A

My rating: 66

End of season prediction: 68

His game reminds me of Faried with less rebounding. Freak athlete that needs to polish some aspects, but is extremely exciting to watch. He did little to stand out at Summer League with 4.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1 assist per game. According to CBS Sports, Cook suffered a high ankle sprain on June 6th. Assessing his contributions as a player that’s dealing with a dinged up ankle could explain why the Nuggets gave him a two-way contract despite his statistics and only notching 11.3 minutes per game this summer. He may not get a single NBA minute, so he will need to play well in the G-League to boost that rating. My predicted 2 overall jump indicates that he will.


Centers:

Nikola Jokic

Official 2K20 rating: 90

My rating: 93

End of season prediction: 94

You might be thinking, “That’s way too high for Jokic.” To that I would ask, “Did you even see what he did in the playoffs this spring?”. Big Honey led the league in Player Efficiency Rating, Box plus/minus, and Win Shares per 48 minutes. He was also tied with Andre Drummond for the most rebounds per game, was fourth in assists per game, and eighth in points per game. Even after being presented all these stats you still might say, “Well he sucks on defense!”. My response to that would be: over the course of the 2018-2019 season Jokic earned himself the 9th most defensive win shares and 7th highest defensive plus/minus in the league. Now, I’m not suggesting Jokic is a top 10 defender in the NBA, but to call him anything worse than average on that end is false. He has elite I.Q., positioning, and hands on that end, which help hide his weaknesses.

Jokic actually ended last season as a 93, so maybe 2K thought his playoff run was a fluke. Or maybe they were serious when they said he needed a Twitter account in order to get a higher rating. Either way, Nikola deserves a higher rating and increasing all of his playmaking and defensive I.Q. attributes would accomplish that. Jokic is a good playmaker in 2K, but he isn’t done justice. He is a top 5 passer in the entire league. At his 90 rating, Kyrie Irving (91) is better. At my rating of 93, he has the same overall as Paul George and is just barely below Anthony Davis (94).

Mason Plumlee

Official 2K20 rating: 77

My rating: 77

End of season prediction: 77

Plumlee’s poor playoff showing dropped him down from a 78 to a 77 for me. He is well represented in 2K so this one won’t be very long. They know he can dish the rock, grab boards, and use his above average athleticism to get plenty of blocks and dunks. The only thing I’d say they’re missing here is the sheer volume of reverse dunks Mason does. His 77 rating may be lower than players like JaVale McGee (79) and Willie Cauley-Stein (79), but that says more about their ratings being too high than Plumlee’s being too low.

Bol Bol

Official 2K20 rating: 73

My rating: 72

End of season prediction: 74

Bol Bol is a project. He dominated at Oregon, but it was a small sample against sub-par competition. His potential may be just as high as his risk. This is a risk the Nuggets have earned the right to take. They have plenty of depth and this high-reward strategy has manifested in each of the last 2 drafts with MPJ, Vanderbilt, and Bol all falling in the draft due to injury. I believe the best way to develop him is in the G-league, where he can have live game experience and continue to develop his strength. If he plays well enough, he could get spot NBA minutes if Jokic rests or we are dealing with injuries. 2K nailed his athleticism for his size, and long range shooting ability. I guess they think Bol is little further into his development than I do.