When I pop NBA 2K13 into my XBOX 360 come October 2nd, one of the first things I’ll do is what I do every year, go to practice mode and check out the new rookies. In another life, I’d be an NBA scout. I’ve always enjoyed watching players progress from high school to college and analyzing what type of player they might be in the NBA. In the game, it’s fun for me to see how well rookies are captured appearance, ability and style-wise. And with the announcement of perhaps my most anticipated addition to NBA 2K13, Signature Skills, it will be even more interesting this year.
Rookies in NBA 2K have always been rated according to a specific scale which often does not do justice to their capabilities on the court. Granted a part of rating them is predicting how well their game will translate to the NBA, there are certain abilities that players just possess. Signature Skills could be the compromise which allows rookies to play like their real life counterparts though they may be rated conservatively.
The 2012 draft was deep with good ballplayers and there a couple of guys I’m excited about using in NBA 2K13. Here are my numbers ten through six most anticipated rookies, along with what I predict their Signature Skills might be.
10. Terrence Jones (Houston Rockets) – When I saw Jones play for the first time, I thought to myself, “this kid is a beast”. At 6’9, 250 plus, Jones is a wing player in the body of a big man. He has good ball handling ability, speed, 3 point range on his jump shot, and can really finish at the rim. Having often played power forward at Kentucky, Jones also displayed a solid game on the low block as well as a good defense.
Coming into the league, his genetics may be his biggest attribute. Other than Lebron James, not too many players in the NBA have such a skill-set at that size. I can envision Jones possessing the Finisher and/or Strength Signature Skills.
9. Austin Rivers (New Orleans Hornets) – I remember seeing Rivers play in high school and thinking that he could be something special at the point guard position. At roughly 6’5, 200, he has an ankle-shredding handle, impressive quickness, a reliable floater and a good acumen and feel for the game. His special ability to fill it up offensively had him slotted at the shooting guard for Duke but with his thin frame, he's more likely destined for point guard life in the NBA.
Rivers biggest attribute is probably his confidence. I don’t know if there is a signature skill for that, but this kid believes in his ability and it enables him to approach a game like he’s the best guy on the floor. I wonder how much adapting to playing the point guard on the Hornets and not having the green light to score will affect that. Other than some signature skill pertaining to confidence, I can definitely see Rivers possessing the Ankle Breaker attribute, and one for First Step Quickness.
8. Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic) –Nicholson merges the attributes of a throwback big along with a skill set that modern day big men might envy. He has solid size at the PF position standing at about 6’10 234, has an impressive back to the basket game and shot 43% from 3point range in his senior year at Bonaventure. Nicholson also has a good basketball IQ and work ethic. His improvement at the free-throw line has been impressive, as he went from shooting 61% his freshman year to 76% his sophomore year. Most recently, Nicholson connected at 78% clip in his senior year.
Nicholson’s intelligence is a plus but I don't think it will earn him a Signature Skill in that area just yet. I can however envision a Low Post Offense and maybe Spot up Shooter attribute.
7. Kendall Marshall (Phoenix Suns) – When I first saw Kendall Marshall play, the first guy that came to my mind was Jason Kidd. Marshall is a 6’4 point guard who controls the floor and makes players around him better. I was impressed by his ability to push the ball as well as his passing accuracy in the half court. He’s not the rebounder or defender that Jason Kidd was but he does have exceptional ball control, a high IQ, and can hit the 3 consistently. It’s been a few years since a pure point guard like Marshall has come out of the NBA draft.
Marshall is the consummate Floor General, so I’d be surprised if he did not have that signature skill in 2K13. I can also see him having the Dimer Signature Skill. The man averaged 10 assists per game his sophomore year in North Carolina, with nearly a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio. That’s impressive.
6. Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors) – Harrison Barnes garnered comparisons to Kobe Bryant when he was the number 1 rated prospect coming out of high school. After the rough start to his freshman year at North Carolina however, those comparisons cooled down. Eventually, Barnes settled in to his game and had a decent rookie campaign. He showed greater efficiency is his sophomore year and his game started drawing comparisons to Glen Rice. I didn’t agree with that comparison at first, but I can see the similarities in play.
Barnes is a tremendous mid-range shooter, with an exceptional ability to create space for himself. Though not as accurate as Glen Rice, he is a knock-down three point shooter both in spot up and off-the-dribble situations. Barnes has the body of an NBA small forward at 6’8, 230, a serviceable post game, good strength and defense. His preference to shoot the jumper over driving to the basket had many doubting his athleticism, though he measured as one of the best athletes at the NBA Draft Combine.
I am interested in seeing if Barnes game fits more naturally into the NBA or if he will have the same difficulties transitioning as he did entering college. Fortunately for him, he seems to be in the ideal situation in Golden State as their play style caters to his strengths. I can see Barnes with the Sharp Shooter Signature Skill, and maybe a Strength or IQ kind of skill as well.
Who are your Top Five rookies? Who do you think I'm going to pick? Any projections on signature skills? Sound off in the comments below!