NBA 2K23 will be coming out in September, and there's no doubt that many fans are excited about the release. Ronnie 2K has claimed that it should be the best one ever, and hopefully, that is the case.
One of the most anticipating things every year about NBA 2K releases is the reveal of player ratings. In this article, we will try and predict the ratings of the 10 best small forwards in the league.
10. Mikal Bridges - 84
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 14.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Mikal Bridges is generally considered to be the best 3 and D player in the NBA, and for a good reason. He is a DPOY caliber defender that can take on the best perimeter player on the opposing team and is capable of guarding multiple positions. He also shot 36.9% from beyond the arc this season.
In our predictions, Mikal Bridges ends up with an 84 rating, as he is a DPOY caliber player but is limited on the offensive end. Obviously, this is a starting rating, so if Mikal Bridges shows signs of diversifying and improving his game offensively, then the rating improvements should come.
The Phoenix Suns are a team that made the Finals in 2021, but unfortunately, they were eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks before they could make it back in the 2022 playoffs. Mikal Bridges making a small offensive leap while continuing to provide DPOY defense would help the team in that pursuit, and hopefully, he's up for the challenge.
9. Andrew Wiggins - 84
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 17.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Andrew Wiggins has shown that he is a very good two-way wing this season, and he was particularly impactful in the NBA Finals, providing fantastic defense on Jayson Tatum while also getting a lot of rebounds and being a supplementary scorer next to Stephen Curry. He is notably a solid shot-blocker for a forward. While he cannot be the sole rim protector on a team, his athleticism allows him to deter opponents from attacking the rim at times.
Our prediction for Andrew Wiggins' starting 2K23 rating is 84, so he gets an increase of 1 overall from his 2K22 final rating of 83. It is clear that Andrew Wiggins stepped up for the Golden State Warriors in the postseason, and he is a player that thrived in his role. Thus an increase for the next game is in order, and 84 seems fair.
The Golden State Warriors will be looking to repeat and win another championship next year. Andrew Wiggins' two-way play will be crucial in them repeating, as he makes things tough on opposing stars and provides crucial slashing and spacing. If Wiggins increases his volume scoring-wise while maintaining his current efficiency, the Warriors could be an even better team next year.
8. Khris Middleton - 86
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 20.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Khris Middleton has been a trusty No. 2 option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo over the course of the last few years, and he is an extremely versatile wing player offensively. Khris Middleton can do a little bit of everything offensively: shot creation, playmaking, and ballhandling are all among his skills.
The rating for Khris Middleton at the end of 2022 was 86, and this remains unchanged here. He is a solid All-Star level player that can sometimes be inconsistent, which means he can play well off of a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo, who can cover up for him when he has an off night.
The Milwaukee Bucks were unable to defend their championship this year, and part of that was due to Khris Middleton's absence in their series against the Boston Celtics. He will be crucial for the team next season, as Middleton is a trusty No. 2 option whose skill set translates to the playoffs. Hopefully, we see them manage to get back to the NBA Finals, and Khris Middleton having big performances offensively will be key to that happening.
7. Jaylen Brown - 87
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 23.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Jaylen Brown had a spectacular run in the playoffs, and he gave the team good two-way play as the No. 2 option next to superstar Jayson Tatum. While he is not quite a top-tier two-way player like Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard, Jaylen Brown is still an All-Star level player. Brown also has some potential to be unlocked, and if he improves his ballhandling and playmaking, he can be an elite wing for years to come.
Brown's final rating in NBA 2K22 was 86, and it is fair to say that he deserves a slight upgrade as he helped the Boston Celtics get to the NBA Finals, having some top-tier performances on the highest stage as well. Our prediction is that Jaylen Brown will start with an 87 rating, to reflect his elite play in the postseason. Obviously, Jaylen Brown could potentially be a shooting guard in the next edition of the game, but his primary position in NBA 2K22 was SF, which is why he is listed here.
The primary objective for the Boston Celtics is to return to the NBA Finals and get the team another championship. Jaylen Brown will be key in that happening, and if he can elevate his game even further, then the Boston Celtics will have a much better chance of winning at the highest level.
6. Brandon Ingram - 87
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 22.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.6 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Brandon Ingram led the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs this year, even without the presence of co-star Zion Williamson. He has shown his prowess as a midrange scorer and playmaking forward over the course of the regular season, and there's no doubt that Brandon Ingram is a star in this league. It is quite clear that Brandon Ingram was the best player on the New Orleans Pelicans while Zion Williamson was out.
Ingram finished NBA 2K22 with a rating of 85, which seems awfully low based on the playoff run that he just had. He averaged 27.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 6.2 APG. Those are All-NBA level stats, though obviously, Brandon Ingram has to prove that he can do that over the course of the whole season. However, a boost to his rating is clearly in order, which is why he ends up with an 87 rating here.
Next season, with Zion Williamson returning from injury, the goal for Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans will be to win a playoff series and continue building on the foundation that they have. It is clear that the team has a bright future, but if Brandon Ingram can consistently play at an All-NBA level, then the Pelicans' ceiling is going to get a lot higher.
5. DeMar DeRozan - 89
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 27.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
DeMar DeRozan is quite possibly the best midrange player in the game. He has almost every single midrange tool in his arsenal, and he showed that he can be a successful, All-NBA caliber player without a 3PT shot. He was visibly the best player on the Chicago Bulls last season, and at one point, DeMar DeRozan even got some MVP buzz from the media.
In our predictions, DeMar DeRozan gets an 89 rating. While he is a good offensive player, the lack of elite defense keeps him from truly being among the top 3 or 4 SF players, and that is the reason he doesn't cross the 90 rating mark in our predictions for NBA 2K23. It is fully possible that he improves on that end next season though, so his overall rating might increase as his defensive attributes in the game increase.
The Chicago Bulls were unceremoniously eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in this year's playoff, and DeMar DeRozan will hope that he is able to lead them to a deeper playoff run next season. With a fully healthy Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine, that should be entirely possible.
4. Jayson Tatum - 92
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 26.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Jayson Tatum had an elite run with the Boston Celtics during these past playoffs, managing to get to the NBA Finals. He showed a different level during the playoffs, and he was elite on both ends of the floor for most of the postseason. Tatum is a three-level scorer that also has some playmaking ability, while also being an elite perimeter defender and rebounder. We've seen him succeed as the primary defender on stars like Kevin Durant in the past.
In NBA 2K22, Jayson Tatum ended with a rating of 90, but in our prediction, we have boosted his rating to 92, to reflect his stellar postseason run. He has shown that he has a very solid argument to be considered a superstar-caliber player and his rating in our prediction acknowledges that fact.
Obviously, the main thing that the Boston Celtics should focus on for next season is getting back to the NBA Finals and winning the franchise's 18th championship. Jayson Tatum has recently expressed that he felt miserable after he lost in the NBA Finals, and it is quite likely that he will do everything in his power to get back to the highest stage and finish the job. The team definitely has the talent to succeed at that level, and we'll see if Jayson Tatum can bounce back after a poor performance in the Finals.
3. Jimmy Butler - 92
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 21.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Jimmy Butler is the current best player on the Miami Heat, and he has morphed himself from a solid star to a bona fide two-way superstar over the course of the last few years. He is an elite perimeter defender, and offensively, he excels at slashing to the rim and making plays for his teammates. He took the Boston Celtics to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals despite the majority of his teammates struggling offensively throughout the series, and it's clear that Jimmy Butler is the real deal.
In our list, Jimmy Butler comes in as the third-best small forward with a solid rating of 92, which is the same rating that he ended with in 2K22. This seems like a fair rating for a player who is in the top 10 of the league. His most recent playoff run solidified that he is a top-tier SF, and perhaps we'll see that rating rise even further next season.
He is not quite an MVP-level player in the regular season, but Jimmy Butler elevates to being a top-tier player during the playoffs. The objective for him and the Miami Heat will be to get over the hump and get back to the NBA Finals, which they have failed to do in the 2021 and 2022 playoffs. With Jimmy Butler at the helm though, the Miami Heat will be confident in their chances.
2. Kawhi Leonard - 95
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: (Didn't Play, ACL Injury)
Kawhi Leonard missed the entirety of the 2021-22 season with an ACL injury that he sustained during the Los Angeles Clippers' series against the Utah Jazz. If he comes back in the same All-NBA form, he should be considered the 2nd best SF in the league right behind LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard is a two-way powerhouse, capable of scoring on all three levels while also being an elite rebounder and perimeter defender. He is undoubtedly the face of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Our prediction for Kawhi Leonard has him with a 95 2K23 rating, which is the same rating that had in 2K22. Generally, 2K doesn't penalize players for being injured at the start of a new game. But if Kawhi Leonard ends up playing worse during the 2022-23 season, then his rating will likely be adjusted accordingly. Until further notice, though, Kawhi Leonard will remain at 95.
The goal for the Los Angeles Clippers next season will obviously be winning a championship. The team has two superstars and a lot of good role players, which is a recipe to win at the highest level. Kawhi Leonard has shown that he can be the No. 1 option on a championship-caliber team in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors, and perhaps he can win the Los Angeles Clippers their first championship next year.
1. LeBron James - 96
2021-22 Regular Season Stats: 30.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG
LeBron James is still the best SF in the world, even though he is not quite in his prime. He is still a superstar-caliber player that is an elite offensive engine, and he clearly had a fantastic regular season individually last year. He is still elite at pressuring the rim and playmaking for shooters. James was notably close to winning the scoring title last season, though he missed out on the award due to him not fulfilling the requirement for the minimum games played.
In 2K22, LeBron James finished with a rating of 96, and as he didn't get any worse as a player, it is quite likely that his rating will remain the same in 2K23. James is generally viewed as a top-5 player in the league, and the 96 rating in 2K23 would keep him in that position.
The goal for the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James next season will likely be to make it back to the playoffs and potentially make a deep playoff run. Obviously, how far the team goes will depend on whether they will make any moves to improve the roster. LeBron James is still a player that is capable of being the No. 1 option on a championship-caliber team, and we'll see if he can lead the Los Angeles Lakers to another championship.