Utah Jazz: Predicting every starter’s NBA 2K22 rating

Utah Jazz (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz starting small forward: Royce O’Neale

Predicted NBA 2K22 rating: 73

If any player on the Utah Jazz’s projected starting lineup is likely to have more real-life value than his 2K rating reflects, it’s O’Neale. As close as the critically acclaimed video game franchise has become to a simulation, it’s still difficult for the game to really capture the value of intangibles like toughness, leadership, and heart.

On the positive side, we don’t have to worry about praising our AI overlords quite yet. On the other hand, Royce O’Neale is likely to remain as underrated in NBA 2K as he is in real life.

O’Neale’s rating is likely to be boosted primarily by his three-point shooting (38.5% accuracy on 3.9 attempts per game last season), stout perimeter defense (as reflected by a solid 108 Defensive Rating last season) and strong positional rebounding (6.8 per game last season). As fans of the Utah Jazz will be quick to attest, O’Neale is the definition of a glue guy, and an invaluable component of the team’s success.

On the other hand, his rating is limited by his lack of playmaking, ball-handling and shot creation abilities. In reality, O’Neale is a consummate 3-and-D wing with a little extra rebounding.

Again, that’s an extremely valuable player archetype, and the Utah Jazz are lucky to have him. It’s just difficult to reflect that value in the context of a video game. Put differently: Royce O’Neale excels in the skills he does possess, but he is simply lacking in too many areas to receive an exceedingly high 2k rating.

We’re not factoring them into this exercise, but O’Neale has at least two teammates on the bench who are likely to begin the season with higher 2K ratings in Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles.