It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it.
In some regards, NBA 2K rating systems are somewhat like a modern day report card. There's a letter grade, which ostensibly stands as a representation of a player's skill level, an amalgamation of each of his best qualities. While the score serves an important purpose in the video game with regards to team balance, it can also touch a nerve for some of the player's real life counterparts. For example, Joel Embiid voiced his displeasure with his NBA 2K18 rating earlier this year, and Rudy Gay referred to his 83 ranking a "crock of BS." Conversely, some of the players clearly enjoy speculating about their future ratings, and seeing how they stack up against their own predictions.
But how do the game creators ultimately decide on a fair and accurate rating system? In a detailed interview with Complex, 2K Games producer Michael Stauffer explains the importance of "balancing the statistics." In order to do so, they use approximately fifty stats, ranging from passing accuracy, to the ability to draw fouls, to durability. Stauffer continues, stating ""For example, a guy like Kyrie Irving has great lateral movement. We don't want him to feel slow, but at the same time, we don't want him to be overpowering on defense."
While much of the data is mined by complex algorithms, Stauffer and his team watch hours of archival footage, which is especially beneficial in ranking legendary players like the late Wilt Chamberlain. He also stresses the importance of statistical context, citing the following as an example:
"If a player has a 37 percentage for his 3-point shot, we're interested in 'how,''' Stauffer said. "Not every 3-point shot is the same. There's always a variable. For example, if Steph Curry has to run across the whole court through multiple screens to find an open 3—or has to shoot from far back to get open—does his percentage tell the whole story?"
There are also certain factors that only apply if the player is A.I controlled. In the given example, Russell Westbrook has a Pick And Roll defense IQ of 85, which means the AI will pick up on your inability to dodge and predict screens. Stauffer and his team also pay special attention to the increasing importance of three pointers, giving certain players a bump in that regard.
Obviously, the team has much love for the NBA, and doesn't exactly want to upset any of the players. Still, it does happen, but Stauffer makes it clear that they're intent on keeping the game balanced and accurate. ""We don't want the players to be upset. Obviously, they take a lot of pride in their work. And so if a player is unhappy, we'll double check our work and make sure that everything checks out."
Check out NBA 2K18's top ten player rankings at every position right here.