Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
Every year, we basketball gamers tend to argue about ratings. Most of the time, the arguments concern overall ratings, and as we saw during this past offseason, even NBA players are getting in on the act these days. While the importance of overall ratings is often exaggerated, they are still significant, and when an overall rating seems really wrong, it usually means that there are a few issues with a player’s individual ratings.
It’s funny to see players like Brandon Jennings publicly take exception to player ratings though, as I’m sure that a lot of players have taken a look at some of their ratings over the years, and felt quite insulted. “Seriously, you think I’m that hopeless at scoring/passing/defense?” I’d say that it’s definitely led to some grumbling to the developers at EA Sports and 2K Sports. With that in mind, for this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five ratings that have very likely led to some wounded pride.
1. Nedžad Sinanović’s Overall Rating (NBA Live 2004)
When I took a look back at LeBron James’ ratings in NBA Live 2004, I mentioned that the change to a 0-99 in-game ratings scale had some undesirable results as far as the overall ratings were concerned. Quite a few players were a little underrated, including LeBron and his fellow Class of 2003 rookies, as well as veterans such as Reggie Miller. The change to the scale was ultimately for the best, allowing for a greater differentiation in player abilities, but the calculation of overall ratings wouldn’t be fixed until NBA Live 2005.
None of the players I mentioned above had it as bad as Nedžad Sinanović, however. Sinanović was taken 54th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2003 Draft, and was actually one of the hidden rookies in the default roster, unlockable via a code (or DBF editing on PC). Expectations were clearly low for the big man from Bosnia, as he was the worst rated player in the game at 32 overall. Well, the worst rated real player; the fake placeholder players on the Charlotte Bobcats were rated in the 20s, so Sinanović at least had them beat. As he’s never played a minute in the NBA, we’ll never know how accurate his ratings were, but they’re pretty insulting nevertheless.
2. Primož Brezec’s Overall Rating (NBA Live 2005)
While overall ratings were calculated much better in NBA Live 2005, there were still some players who probably had every right to feel insulted. Taking Nedžad Sinanović’s place as the worst rated player in the game, Primož Brezec also received a dismal 32 overall rating, a significant drop from the 51 overall rating he had in NBA Live 2004. To be fair, Brezec didn’t see much playing time during his first three years in the league, so expectations were likely pretty low when the Charlotte Bobcats picked him up in the 2004 Expansion Draft.
Brezec soon proved that he deserved better ratings however, as his first two years in Charlotte were the best of his career. Starting in every game he appeared in, he averaged 13 points and 7.4 rebounds, and 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in the 2005 and 2006 seasons respectively. Brezec hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010, but he did manage to stick around for eight seasons, which is probably longer than most gamers expected when they saw his ratings in NBA Live 2005. While a return to the NBA may be unlikely, he is still active, playing for AEK Larnaca of the Cypriot League.
3. Joel Przybilla’s Offensive Awareness (NBA Live 2005)
According to Basketball Reference, Joel Przybilla’s nicknames are Vanilla Gorilla, and Ghostface. In an era where a lot of player’s nicknames are just their initials followed by their jersey number, I for one appreciate that kind of creativity. Przybilla hung around the NBA for thirteen seasons, spending most of them with the Portland Trail Blazers. A 7’1″ centre, he filled the lane while racking up some very solid rebounding and blocking numbers, despite never playing more than 25 minutes per game in any season. I also seem to remember him being somewhat of a fan favourite in the NLSC Forum for a while there.
He wasn’t much of an offensive threat though, to say the least. He holds a career high scoring average of 6.4 points per game, which came in the 2005 season. It’s ironic that his best scoring output would come that year, as he has the worst Offensive Awareness rating in NBA Live 2005, at a paltry 18. 18! The owner of the second worst Offensive Awareness rating in the game is Michael Ruffin with 24, followed by Ervin “Tragic” Johnson with 26. Obviously none of those players were great scorers, but if I were them, I’d still feel a bit insulted by those miserable ratings.
4. Gilbert Arenas’ Clutch Rating (NBA Live 08 PC)
Gilbert Arenas’ stock as an NBA star seemed to fall as quickly as it rose, as he was plagued by injuries and controversy during his final years in the NBA. There was a time when he was one of the best combo guards in the league however, and his chip-on-the-shoulder attitude and outspoken nature initially won over a lot of fans. At the peak of his career and popularity, EA Sports signed him to appear on the cover of NBA Live 08. At the time, it was a solid decision.
You would think that as the cover player, Arenas’ ratings would be on point. In fact, you might even speculate that there could be a little bit of bias involved, seeing as how he was the face of the game. His ratings were pretty accurate for the most part, but in the PC version of NBA Live 08, Agent Zero had a Clutch rating of 10. That’s pretty low for someone who had made some clutch plays and gamewinning shots during their career. Amusingly, in the attract mode video for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of NBA Live 08, Arenas is actually shown nailing a gamewinning jumpshot.
5. All of Yinka Dare’s Ratings (NBA Jam Tournament Edition PC)
The late Yinka Dare usually makes a lot of “Worst NBA Players of All-Time” lists. Having a rookie season in which you only tally one defensive rebound in three minutes of court time, registering only four career assists in 110 games, and generally having little positive impact out on the floor will tend to do that. He was thought to have some potential before reaching the NBA, however. In the Super Nintendo version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition, he had decent ratings: 5 for Speed, a fair 0 for Three-Pointers, 7 for Dunking, 3 for Passing, 7 for Power, 4 for Steals, 7 for Blocks, and 6 for Clutch, on a scale of 0-9.
By Jam standards, they’re serviceable ratings for a big man. When his ratings were updated for the PC version of NBA Jam TE, it was a very different story. Dare’s ratings dropped significantly in most areas: 0 for Speed, 0 for Three-Pointers, 6 for Dunking, 1 for Passing, 8 for Power, 1 for Steals, 6 for Blocks, and 0 for Clutch. Simply put, they are among some of the worst ratings you’ll ever see in a basketball video game. Despite that, the arcade nature of NBA Jam TE does mean that he’s not actually completely useless. In fact, as I demonstrate in this video, Dare can defy the odds and do remarkable things on the virtual hardwood.
What are some of the most insulting player ratings that you’ve come across in basketball video games? Let me know in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.