UK Men's Basketball

How ex-Cats grade out in newly released NBA2K14

Former UK greats Josh Harrellson, left, and Anthony Davis, joked around during the UK Alumni game  on Monday September 9, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Former UK greats Josh Harrellson, left, and Anthony Davis, joked around during the UK Alumni game on Monday September 9, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

The 2013-14 season stands as a watershed campaign for several former University of Kentucky basketball players in the NBA.

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins received massive new contracts this off-season. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight changed addresses. Rajon Rondo and Nerlens Noel are battling back from knee injuries. And Anthony Davis is trying to live up to his billing as a No. 1 overall pick in New Orleans.

The actual NBA season does not open until Oct. 29. Of more immediate concern is how these former Cats hold up in the virtual world.

Twenty-four ex-Cats are featured in the NBA2K14 video game from 2K Sports. Fans were able to start picking up their copies at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

NBA2K14 features every team in the league, popular past teams and, for the first time in the series' history, select Euroleague teams. Each year developer Visual Concepts rates every league veteran (even the free agents) and incoming rookies using its internal formula, and will update that rating as warranted throughout the season.

It's not a perfect system, as head-scratchers always come out of the woodwork. In general though, the digital representation's rating is fair to its real-life counterpart.

How do the ex-Cats check out according to Visual Concepts' ratings? Here's a look at each ex-Cat in the order they're rated:

(Note: In the 2K series there are both basic and detailed ratings, each of which adds up to the overall rating a player receives. The former gives letter grades to each player in the categories of inside scoring ability, outside scoring ability, perimeter defense, post defense, ball handling, rebounds, basketball IQ and athleticism. The detailed ratings divide these categories into more specific basketball-relevant stats (mid-range jump shots are rated differently from three-pointers, for example). For the purpose of this snapshot, the basic ratings are listed as "key stats." Notable detailed ratings are mentioned when necessary. Ratings are based on the first available official 2K Sports roster update.)


Boston Celtics

Overall rating: 90

Offense/defense: 85/90

Key stats: Handling (A+), Basketball IQ (A+), Perimeter defense (A), Athleticism (A).

Analysis: The injured Celtics point guard is the highest-rated player on his team and the fourth-highest rated point guard in the game behind Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. An "F" in post defense is the only bad grade figured into his overall score. Rondo is the highest rated ex-Cat.


Washington Wizards

Overall rating: 85

Offense/defense: 85/82

Key stats: Handling (A), Perimeter defense (A-), Basketball IQ (A-), Athleticism (A-).

Analysis: Like Rondo, Wall is the highest-rated player on his team. An "F" in post defense and "D+" in rebounding negatively impact his rating. Given his ability to throw it down at the point guard spot, Wall's 66 dunk rating seemed a bit low.


Phoenix Suns

Overall rating: 81

Offense/defense: 78/87

Key stats: Perimeter defense (A-), Handling (A-), Basketball IQ (B+).

Analysis: Meet the Suns' highest-rated player. Bledsoe is getting a lot of respect from the 2K team. This time last year, his score was 66, making his the highest rating jump for any ex-Cat from NBA2K13 to this year's edition. Expectations are low in Phoenix but high for the former backup to Chris Paul. How he handles the transition from reserve to starter will be a fun story line to follow.


Sacramento Kings

Overall rating: 80

Offense/defense: 84/75

Key stats: Basketball IQ (B+), Post defense (B+), Rebounding (B+), Inside scoring (B).

Analysis: Boogie is the highest-rated player on the Kings' roster at just an 80 overall (not a great sign for the digital Kings). Cousins' score dropped a point from last year's game. Will Cousins stay in Sacramento for the foreseeable future and play his way to a higher rating this year? Something on which to keep tabs.


New Orleans Pelicans

Overall rating: 79

Offense/defense: 70/83

Key stats: Post defense (B+), Rebounding (B+), Basketball IQ (B), Inside scoring (B).

Analysis: Davis' score from the previous year's game did not change, perhaps due to the amount of time he missed with injury last year. The second-year player is the fourth-rated guy on the Pelicans (making their video-game debut), behind off-season acquisitions Jrue Holiday (88) and Tyreke Evans (82), and returning veteran Eric Gordon (83).


Charlotte Bobcats

Overall rating: 78

Offense/defense: 69/82

Key stats: Athleticism (A), Perimeter defense (B+), Rebounding (B).

Analysis: MKG's score is up one point from a year ago. He and Anthony Davis both suffered from low offensive scores and were boosted by above-average defensive ratings. Kidd-Gilchrist sits behind Al Jefferson (84) and Kemba Walker (83) on Charlotte's ratings.


Memphis Grizzlies

Overall rating: 74

Offense/defense: 73/72

Key stats: Outside scoring (A-), Inside scoring (B), Basketball IQ (B).

Analysis: An old man compared to the previous entries, Prince posts a respectable 74 rating bolstered by an excellent outside scoring grade. He's the fifth-ranked player on the Memphis roster.


Sacramento Kings

Overall rating: 73

Offense/defense: 76/70

Key stats: Outside scoring (A-), Inside scoring (B), Basketball IQ (B).

Analysis: Patterson was knocking down mid-range and three-point shots with decent consistency last season, but the "A-" in outside scoring was kind of surprising (especially since his three-point rating took a minor hit). He joins Cousins as a top-five rated player on the Kings.


Milwaukee Bucks

Overall rating: 73

Offense/defense: 77/72

Key stats: Handling (B+), Outside scoring (B), Perimeter defense (B), Basketball IQ (B).

Analysis: That Knight, whose score remains unchanged from last year, has a lower outside scoring grade than Patrick Patterson just seems wrong. I suppose not every ex-Cats point guard can be rated above average, but Knight should have the chance to boost his score starting for a less-than-stellar (on paper) Bucks team this season.


Philadelphia 76ers

Overall rating: 71

Offense/defense: 68/80

Key stats: Rebounding (B+), Post defense (B), Basketball IQ (B-).

Analysis: Given that he hasn't played since February, a 71 for the 76ers rookie doesn't seem unfair. Noel's score is heightened thanks to a solid defense rating. He is the fourth-highest rated player on the Philadelphia roster, and rates two points higher than fellow 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams.


Free agent

Overall rating: 71

Offense/defense: 72/72

Key stats: Outside scoring (B+), Basketball IQ (B), Perimeter defense (B-).

Analysis: Azubuike, who last played for the Dallas D-League-affiliate Texas Legends, is one of the more favorably rated free agents on the disc. Azubuike was on Cleveland's roster in the pre-season last year, but was waived before he ever played a game for the Cavaliers.


Sacramento Kings

Overall rating: 69

Offense/defense: 66/82

Key stats: Post defense (B+), Rebounding (B), Basketball IQ (B-).

Analysis: Terrific defense has kept the undersized Hayes in the league for eight seasons, and keeps his 2K14 rating at a respectable level. The Kings have the most ex-Cats on their roster with three.


Los Angeles Lakers

Overall rating: 69

Offense/defense: 69/71

Key stats: Outside scoring (B-), Perimeter defense (B-), Basketball IQ (B-).

Analysis: The UK record-holder for most points scored in a single game received a just-below average rating. With the Lakers signing high-volume scorer Nick Young, Meeks' playing time could suffer some this season, especially once Kobe Bryant comes back from injury. That he's one of the younger players on the Los Angeles roster at 26 years old helps his case.


Utah Jazz

Overall rating: 68

Offense/defense: 71/66

Key stats: Rebounding (B), Inside scoring (B-), Post defense (B-).

Analysis: The former lottery pick's rating leaves a lot to be desired, and is somewhat attributable to missed time with injury and lack of consistent, significant playing time for the Jazz. The Turkish big man continues to receive high praise, most recently from ex-Jazz star Karl Malone, who Monday told the Deseret News, "I'll tell you straight up (Kanter and Derrick Favors) have the talent to be as good or as great as they want to be."


Phoenix Suns

Overall rating: 68

Offense/defense: 68/65

Key stats: Perimeter defense (B-), Handling (B).

Analysis: Goodwin could be playing for one of the worst teams in the league this season, which might increase his opportunities. The second ex-Cat taken in the 2013 draft could see ample playing time that may lead to a better overall rating, especially if he performs as well as he did in the Summer League.


Boston Celtics

Overall rating: 67

Offense/defense: 62/79

Key stats: Perimeter defense (B), outside scoring (B-), Basketball IQ (B-).

Analysis: The journeyman Bogans is playing for his ninth NBA team, traded from the Nets to the Celtics in July as part of Brooklyn's package to bring over Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. His score is the lowest on the Boston roster, just under Celtics 2013 draft pick Kelly Olynyk.


Chicago Bulls

Overall rating: 66

Offense/defense: 67/71

Key stats: Perimeter defense (B+), Handling (B+), Athleticism (C+).

Analysis: The second-year Bulls point guard failed to make a substantial impression last season with Derrick Rose out for the year, but with Nate Robinson gone he remains Chicago's third-stringer behind Rose and the injury-prone Kirk Hinrich. Teague had a few impressive Summer League games so it's easy to predict his rating will go up before it goes down. (He might be motivated by the fact that Pistons rookie and ex-Louisville standout Peyton Siva matches his rating)


Houston Rockets

Overall rating: 65

Offense/defense: 61/69

Key stats: Rebounding (B), Perimeter defense (C+).

Analysis: What's more indicting — Jones' low rating or the fact that he's the highest-rated power forward on Houston's roster? The NBA sophomore is a possible starter for the Rockets, who have stuck with Jones despite a headline-grabbing incident in his hometown of Portland this summer in which he allegedly stomped on a homeless man. New teammate Dwight Howard spoke highly of Jones' abilities when asked what teammates impressed him during Houston's workouts, so perhaps Jones can get his legal matters behind him and make the most of what should be a good opportunity.


Chicago Bulls

Overall rating: 64

Offense/defense: 65/67

Key stats: Rebounding (B+), Inside scoring (B-), Post defense (B-).

Analysis: Mohammed, entering his 16th season in the league, is rated just below Teague for the Bulls. The ex-Cat played 63 games for Chicago last season, starting 12. One would expect the 36-year-old's rating to continue to decrease with age.


New Orleans Pelicans

Overall rating: 64

Offense/defense: 68/64

Key stats: Outside scoring (B), Perimeter defense (C+), Handling (C).

Analysis: Miller suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and there's no timetable for his return to the Pelicans. The second-year player averaged 13.8 points and 2.8 rebounds over five games in the Las Vegas Summer League.


Orlando Magic

Overall rating: 62

Offense/defense: 61/65

Key stats: Outside scoring (B+), Perimeter defense (C+), Inside scoring (C).

Analysis: Lamb was traded at the deadline from Milwaukee to Orlando, where he averaged just 3.3 points a game. A decent turn in the Orlando Summer League (11.3 points per game, 50 percent field-goal shooting) ended abruptly when he left the Magic's third game after colliding with Miami's James Ennis.


Free agent

Overall rating: 62

Offense/defense: 53/72

Key stats: Perimeter defense (B-), handling (C+).

Analysis: It'll come as little shock to UK fans that Liggins is one of the best defensive free agents available in NBA2K14. Oklahoma City waived the 24-year-old on Sept. 6, about a week after he was arrested following an alleged domestic assault. Liggins was arraigned on numerous felony domestic violence charges on Sept. 20. It appears unlikely the former Cat will play in the NBA this season.


Detroit Pistons

Overall rating: 57

Offense/defense: 58/57

Key stats: Rebounding (B), Inside scoring (C+), Outside scoring (C+), Post defense (C+).

Analysis: The disc shipped with Harrellson as a free agent, but the first official roster update puts him with the Pistons, with whom he signed on Aug. 21. The fan-favorite affectionately known as "Jorts" spent the better part of last season playing in Puerto Rico and then in China with the Chongqing Fly Dragons. Harrellson was named the Chinese National Basketball League's player of the year. He averaged 22.3 points, 18.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals en route to the honor.


Oklahoma City Thunder

Overall rating: 56

Offense/defense: 52/68

Key stats: Post defense (B-), Inside scoring (C+), Rebounding (C+).

Analysis: Bringing up the rear both for ex-Cats and the Thunder is Orton, the lowest-rated player on the Oklahoma City roster, tied with former lottery pick and UConn star Hasheem Thabeet.