It’s just a video game, right?
Take-Two Interactive has done an incredible job with the NBA2K franchise over the last 20+ years. They have formed a tight-knit community ranging from fans, influencers, and even NBA players. Sure, 2K’s developers — as well as the face of the company, Digital Marketing Director for 2K Games Ronnie “2K” Singh — receive flack from the community when a new game is released.
This is the same game as last year.
Ronnie, your game is broken.
If you have played any online 2K game modes in the past few years, it’s more than likely you have heard one of those sayings. Regardless, there is one thing that the NBA community and players seem to care the most about — the ratings.
If you are unfamiliar, NBA2K’s rating scale goes from 60 overall, the brown shirts in the park (IYKYK), all the way up to 99. Every year, you have the typical players in the high 90s, such as Nikola Jokić (98), Joel Embiid (97), Stephen Curry (97), Luka Dončić (96), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (96). However, after the top five, things get juicy; fans and players debate about who is rated too high or low on social media.
NBA 2K24 was released on September 7, and with that, we got our first look at the Minnesota Timberwolves roster ratings. To sum it up, most fans were disappointed as usual, and who can blame them? Looking over the preseason ratings above, overalls across the board seemed low.
Naz Reid, Mike Conley, and Kyle Anderson were the notable disappointments; they all went down in ratings after stellar 2022-23 campaigns. This is par for the course, though. I can’t remember when the Wolves fanbase was happy or content with their team's ratings.
Tuesday morning, NBA 2K24 released their first rating update of the 2023-24 season, an update that saw four members of the Timberwolves receive slight tweaks to their ratings. Minnesota’s eye-opening 5-2 start has drawn attention from the game developers at 2K.
Anthony Edwards: 90 OVR (+2 from last rating)
The Timberwolves’ 5-2 start is their best record through the first seven games since 2013. Minnesota has been playing very inspiring basketball so far, and at the head of it all is Anthony Edwards, who looks to be making an MVP-level push this season.
The Wolves wrapped up a perfect 4-and-0 homestand Wednesday night, winning against the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, and New Orleans Pelicans. During that stretch, Edwards averaged just under 30 points, 5.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds on 56% from the floor and 29% from three.
Ant’s superstar status is no longer arguable, and it seems the folks over at NBA2K agree, as they bump him into the exclusive 90 overall club.
Here is NBA 2K’s description of Edwards (who they called a forward, if that’s any indication of the why there’s widespread criticism) in their updated player ratings release:
“The former No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft has all the characteristics of a superstar. Edwards boasts raw, bounding athleticism, exceptional length to defend skilled forwards, and a deep bag of offensive tools to create open shots whether he’s in the lane or beyond the arc. With Edwards entering his fourth year in the NBA, it’s hard to believe the level of maturity and poise he plays with for being just 22 years old. It won’t be long before pundits start pondering if he could be the new face of the league.”
Naz Reid: 81 OVR (+2)
He receives the loudest ovation when his name is called; he is averaging career-highs in points per game (14.7) and three-point percentage (48%). Yes indeed, It’s Naz Reid, as the Wolves’ Public Address Announcer Jeddidiah Jones likes to say.
Reid has been the Timberwolves’ best-kept secret for the last two years. The local fans and his teammates adore him. However, since he plays for the Wolves, it seems not many knew just how good he is at a national level until this point. But the Wolves are winning, and with that, Reid is receiving a well-deserved spotlight.
Another home game, another set of “Naz Reid” chants as he exists the game.— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 2, 2023
As I said, he has been not only the Wolves’ best player this season, but also their most consistent.
His stat line tonight ⤵️
• 16 points
• 5 boards
• 6/9 FGM
• 1/3 3PM
The impact Reid brings off the bench is incredible. Every time he shoots the ball, there is this consensus feeling that falls over the Target Center crowd that the shot is going in. And when he misses, the crowd is genuinely surprised. We are only seven games in, but you could go back to every Wolves win so far, and I would bet Reid made a game-swinging play with either his versatile plug-and-play offense or swift defensive stop.
There was concern Naz would be buried deep into the bench when the front-court of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert was constructed, but that is obviously not the case, and it is great to see him getting some love in NBA2K.
Shake Milton: 74 OVR (-2)
Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch hoped to get more 3-point shooting out of Shake Milton heading into the 2023-24 season. Milton, a career 36% 3-point shooter, is having some real issues finding a consistent stroke from beyond the arc through the first seven games. He has connected on just three of his 15 total attempted triples.
Feels like Shake Milton’s jumper changes every time he shoots from deep. You can tell he just isn’t confident from range right now.— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 9, 2023
That said, he has found ways to positively impact the game tonight — attacking the rim and playing sound defense.
Milton wasn’t known for his outside shot while he was with the Philadelphia 76ers. During his last few years in Philly, his duty was to come in and provide a scoring punch when Joel Embiid or James Harden were on the bench. However, to truly thrive in Minnesota’s free-flowing offense, being consistent from range is necessary. That being said, Milton played well Wednesday night against the Pelicans with his ability to push the ball in transition and attack the paint — two things he will need to hang his hat on while he regains confidence from range, especially after the Jordan McLaughlin injury.
Overall, it’s been a disappointing start to the year for Shake, hence the lowered rating.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker: 73 OVR (-1)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker stepped into a massive role during the 2023 NBA Playoffs as he filled in for the injured Jaden McDaniels and had the incredibly tough task of guarding Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. NAW played incredible defense on Murray and gave the Timberwolves reliable 3-point shooting. With McDaniels back in the mix this season and Alexander-Walker heading back to the bench, it’s fitting that his role decreases. However, his impact is still there, and 2K’s decision to drop his rating seems like a premature overreaction.
Minnesota’s starting five needs NAW to hit open triples. He is 0-for-3 tonight, and 0-for-6 from deep on the season. He’s not out there operating with the ball in his hands much, most of his work is coming off the catch in the corners.— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) October 29, 2023
Before McDaniels returned this season, the Wolves had to fair two regular season games without him as he suffered a calf strain while the team was in Abu Dhabi during the preseason. Again, NAW started in his place. Only this time, Nickeil was having serious issues connecting from deep — he opened the year shooting 0-for-6 three beyond the arc before hitting his first three in Minnesota’s home opener against the Miami Heat.
Since that game, NAW has slowly seen an uptick in his 3-point shooting splits. However, he is still just 9-of-20 from deep on the season. As players have started slipping into a groove, NAW has attempted fewer threes. He has recognized that his shot isn't falling and has been refraining from forcing them up. However, Alexander-Walker is still an oppressive force on the defensive end and continues to give coach Finch and his staff very productive minutes.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker has blossomed into such a good defender. Just watch him on this possession. He's everywhere. pic.twitter.com/QPKZnYy11B— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 6, 2023
“I’m not the right guy to ask,” said NAW when asked how he evaluated his play through Minnesota’s first three games. A reminder that he was just 3-of-11 from deep up until this point.
“I’m very hard on myself. I try to look outside of myself to the people that I trust to help me get better. I think I have been doing well defending the ball. I know for a fact that I come in and put a lot of work into my shot, and I have had success this summer, so I don’t doubt that I am going to make shots. Honestly, it’s just riding the wave. Is it frustrating? Sometimes. For me, I am trying to ride the wave and enjoy the opportunity that I have. At the end of the day, I’m given a great chance to play and be a part of a team that is trying to do something special. That’s the most important thing to me.”
We’ll have continued updates throughout the season as 2K updates their ratings, so stay tuned!