Thursday afternoon, NBA 2K24 released its fourth player ratings update of the season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves wrapped up a 16-game gauntlet on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics. All sixteen of those contests were against teams above .500, 11 of which were on the road. Minnesota walked in with the best record in the Western Conference, went 9-7, and remained atop the standings leaderboard. With all things considered, it was a very successful trip for the team. However, moral victories — like the one we saw in Boston — don’t appear to hold value for the folks at NBA 2K, as four Wolves saw downticks to their overall ratings in the latest update.
Anthony Edwards: 90 OVR (+1 from last rating)
The last time NBA 2K updated its player rankings, Anthony Edwards was bumped down to an 89, falling out of the sacred 90 overall club. At the time, he was in a little bit of a rough patch after dealing with a lingering hip injury, so the decision to lower his rating was expected.
Since December 21, however, the 6-foot-5 guard has played in all 11 of his team’s games — averaging 29.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.3 rebounds on 47.6% from the floor and 40.3% from deep. During that stretch, he also complied some big-time performances, like his 44-point outburst against the Dallas Mavericks on December 28th and his 36 points against the same team a few weeks later.
Jordan McLaughlin: 74 OVR (+1 from last rating)
This is the first time Jordan McLaughlin has seen his rating modified this season. At the time of the last ratings update, McLaughlin was either injured or DNP-CD’d for 17 of the Timberwolves’ first 26 games. And when he did get minutes, they weren’t meaningful.
It has always been apparent that the 5-foot-11 guard is deserving of consistent minutes, but due to Head Coach Chris Finch’s use of the playbook, he happened to be the odd man out. Finch and his staff like to keep their rotation to eight and a half players, meaning three guys off the bench will see regular playing time no matter what, and the ninth situational — only calling that player off the bench when the team is in dire need of their skill set. Until the last rating update, Troy Brown Jr. was that situational piece off the bench, as he saw a +2 to his overall. However, McLaughlin stole that role from TBJ on New Year’s Day, as ‘Lil Mac had a breakthrough performance at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Since then, Jordan’s numbers are up across the board, averaging 4.4 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals on 36.4% from the floor and 31.3% from deep in 15.1 minutes. Much of what McLaughlin does goes unnoticed and doesn’t show up in the box score, though. His defensive intensity, ball movement, and rapid pace are all intangibles that he brings to the table every game. It’s nice that 2K is rewarding him with an improved rating.
Kyle Anderson: 75 OVR (-2 from last rating)
Like McLaughlin, this is Kyle Anderson’s first time seeing his rating altered this season. He began the year at 77, which felt a little low considering his impact on the Wolves last year. Now, 2K is finally sliding his rating even lower after a slow start to the 2023-24 campaign. However, Slow-Mo has had impressive back-to-back showings and appears to be finally turning the clock back to what fans were used to seeing from him.
Anderson, a career 33.8% three-point shooter, wasn’t brought to Minnesota to space the floor. However, his unwillingness to even attempt shots from long-range has made him a liability on offense, which is pretty much the inverse of what we saw last season. The 6-foot-9 point-forward attempted just 1.5 threes per game during his first year in the Twin Cities but averaged 41% from that range. Fast forward to this season, and he has connected on just three out of 25 total three-point attempts.
Slow-Mo has pretty much eradicated the three-ball from his arsenal. If he is wide open and gets passed the ball on the perimeter, more than likely, he’ll attack into a congested paint, attempting a tough floater or dishing the opportunity off to one of his teammates. While this has caused spacing issues, we saw the New Jersey native finally stack productive offensive showings up against the Orlando Magic and Celtics in his own unique way.
- Anderson vs. Magic (1/9): 11 points / 3 assists / 4/6 field goal / 21 minutes
- Anderson vs. Celtics (1/10): 17 points / 8 rebounds / 5 assists / 4/6 field goal / 39 minutes
The decision to bump Kyle’s rating down seems dated. I would have understood if NBA 2K did it for the last update, but after really good back-to-back games, not to mention his defense, which has remained a constant all year, 75 overall seems far too low for someone anchoring the best defensive team in the league off the bench.
Karl-Anthony Towns: 86 OVR (-1 from last rating)
Karl-Anthony Towns has been a mainstay of NBA 2K’s rating updates this season. He started the year off slowly, blossomed into a top two-way forward in the league, and then went through some injury trouble, which appears to be why KAT’s rating has slid back to 86.
Towns went down with left knee soreness on December 21st, missed the following game in Sacramento, and had issues getting back on track. Once he rejoined the team on December 26th, the 6-foot-10 forward averaged just 11.7 points on 37.9% from the floor and 25% from deep over a three-game stretch against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mavericks, and Los Angeles Lakers.
However, the New Jersey native rediscovered his game back home in New York on New Year’s Day, registering 29 points on 10-of-18 from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep. Including that performance, KAT is back to his All-Star self, averaging 25 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 50% from the floor, 41.2% from deep, and 93.8% from the foul stripe over the last six games.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo lead their respective conferences in the second fan returns of #NBAAllStar Voting presented by AT&T.— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 11, 2024
Fans account for 50% of the vote to decide All-Star starters. NBA players and a media panel account for 25% each.
Next fan update: 1/18. pic.twitter.com/0K23OtQRmY
On top of rejoining the 50/40/90 club over the last handful of games, Towns is also 10th in fan All-Star votes in the West front court. He is at the forefront of everything his team, the number one seed in the West, is doing on both ends of the floor. A couple-game skid should not have bumped the KAT’s already low rating down.
Jaden McDaniels: 79 OVR (-1 from last rating)
Unlike Towns, Jaden McDaniels’ lowered rating is warranted.
McDaniels has had a relatively underwhelming start to the season. After inking a 5-year, $136 million extension, many expected him to take a leap and possibly become Minnesota’s third scoring option while remaining one of, if not the best, most versatile perimeter defenders in the league. However, injury issues struck early, which may be the cause of his up-and-down start to the year.
Offensively, the majority of the problems revolve around the 6-foot-10 forward’s inconsistency. He’ll drop in 15+ points one night and less than five on sub-par shooting splits the next. It’s worth mentioning that McDaniels doesn’t have the ball in his hands regularly either; most of his points per game come via off-ball cuts or spacing from the corners. Also, rebounding has been an issue, as he has pulled in three or fewer boards in 20 out of his 25 total games this season (minimum of 15 minutes played).
Still, Slim is incredibly valuable to what the Wolves have done and what they are building. For example, on Tuesday, he had his best game of the season in Orlando, registering 15 points and nine rebounds (season-high) on 6-of-10 from the floor. He also held 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward Paolo Banchero, who entered the game averaging 23 points, to 18 points on 8 of 22 from the floor in 35 minutes.
Consistency and staying out of foul trouble are the highest on Jaden’s current fix-it list. He is one of the main building blocks of the future, but needs to even out his game soon as the Timberwolves gear up for a deep postseason run.
Shake Milton: 73 OVR (-1 from last rating)
There's not much to speak of here; Shake Milton receives yet another downtick in his overall, corresponding with the most disappointing season of his career. He has been DNP’d in five out of the Timberwolves’ last 11 games since the previous update, with his season averages dipping down to five points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on 39.6% from the floor and 26.5% from deep.
At this point, I feel bad for Milton. Switching teams for the first time in your career and immediately having the worst statistical season since your rookie campaign can't be easy. Hopefully, Shake can turn things around; unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that will come in the Twin Cities.