The NBA 2K20 tournament is over, with Devin Booker taking home the big prize. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not every player in the tournament lived up to their 2K20 ratings. Our experts have the breakdown for each player — and how they compare as gamers.
DeMarcus Cousins: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 81 | Game Skill Rating: 60
In a center-versus-center matchup, free-agent DeMarcus Cousins faced off against Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond. Cousins got dominated. The series between the two saw Drummond pick the Los Angeles Lakers, while Cousins opted for the Brooklyn Nets, home to his former teammate Kevin Durant. Well, Cousins didn’t know how to make the most of Durant on the court, as Drummond made the game look easy. Drummond probably would’ve had a more difficult time against a harder AI. It looked like Drummond was facing the computer in easy mode.
Cousins and Harrison Barnes were by far the worst 2K players in the tournament. The Drummond-Cousins game would end with a score of 101-49, the largest blowout in the entire tournament. Cousins should probably do a bit more gaming as he’s injured and not signed to a NBA team. That was hard to watch. — Jacob Wolf
Harrison Barnes: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 78 | Game Skill Rating: 62
Barnes is still figuring out the controls of NBA 2K20 at the time of this article being written. — Tyler Erzberger
Domantas Sabonis: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 85 | Game Skill Rating: 65
Since being traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis’ profile has risen in Indiana amid his gradual improvement. In the first round of the 2K Players Tournament versus Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell, Sabonis picked his own team, the Pacers, a first in the tournament. But it became pretty clear that Sabonis wasn’t a great 2K player and didn’t even know how to use his own avatar’s skill set in game.
The highlight of the game versus Harrell — who also used his own team — was when Sabonis benched himself early into the first quarter. Then he began to rag on his own skills. The game wouldn’t go so smoothly for the Indiana forward, with Harrell dominating him 73-51. It was the start of Harrell’s tournament run that saw him go all the way to the semifinals. — Wolf
Hassan Whiteside: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 87 | Game Skill Rating: 66
In a bout between two of the biggest trash talkers in the NBA, Whiteside and Patrick Beverley clashed in the first round of the tournament. For Pat Bev, it would be the beginning of an eventful tournament in which he entertained fans with his antics and showed he is a legitimate gaming force in the sports world.
Whiteside on the other had … uh, he tried, I guess? His one-liners and personality were on point, but in the world of esports, trash talk only goes as far as your skills will take you. It doesn’t matter how funny or lyrical you are with your insults, if you get embarrassed by what’s happening on the screen, no one is going to take you seriously. He has also made around $100 million in the past four years, so I’m sure the big man will have no trouble sleeping now that his career of being a competitive gamer might not be in the cards. — Erzberger
Kevin Durant: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 96 | Game Skill Rating: 69
A two-time NBA Champion and a 10-time All-Star, Durant was the headliner of the 2K Players tournament when the event was announced a few weeks ago. The only problem: The Brooklyn Nets forward lasted only a single game, as Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. dismantled him in the first round.
Durant opted to use the LA Clippers over his own Nets, which isn’t surprising given the priority placed on the Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks in the tournament. But maybe if he played as himself he’d have a better shot — because he dang sure didn’t do too hot using Paul George or Kawhi Leonard. Durant may have some fantastic real-life basketball IQ and skill, but it clearly didn’t translate in 2K. In the end Jones pushed a strong lead using the Milwaukee Bucks against Durant and held it, ending the game 78-62. What a sad performance by the 2014 NBA MVP. — Wolf
Donovan Mitchell: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 87 | Game Skill Rating: 77
As in real life, when it came to his first-round matchup with Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura, the Utah Jazz gunner could put up buckets. His problem was stopping anything. Anything at all. In one of the higher scoring games in the tournament, it became a back-and-forth tug of war, with Hachimura eventually coming out as the victor.
While Mitchell’s drop from 2K20 rating to his actual play might be a hard pill to swallow, at least Mitchell can find some solace in the fact he didn’t drop as far down as Kevin Durant did after his one-and-done performance. — Erzberger
Rui Hachimura: 5th-8th place (eliminated in quarterfinals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 79 | Game Skill Rating: 79
Funnily enough, I think Hachimura’s in-game ranking is the same as the one he has playing the actual game. In terms of being a character and an entertainer, Hachimura was easily in the 90s, having his own personal towel and waterboy to help him in his quest to upset the Utah Jazz’s Mitchell in the first round. There’s nothing that says esports more than someone who can combine skill and pro wrestling-style theatrics.
In the quarterfinals, though, we saw what happens when a true gamer (Booker) takes on someone who is still progressing. Like Hachimura on the Wizards in real life, the potential is definitely there for Hachmiura to excel in gaming. — Erzberger
Zach LaVine: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 85 | Game Skill Rating: 80
LaVine is a noted gamer outside of 2K, playing in recent SLAM Call of Duty events for example, but his 2K skill wasn’t all that great. We’ll give him some benefit of the doubt — he’d lose in the first round to Deandre Ayton, who went on to show he was among the best in the tournament, but the game wasn’t all that close.
LaVine would pick the Miami Heat in the opening round, while Ayton would play the Houston Rockets. Ayton would get the best of LaVine, racking up buckets with James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but LaVine would get some points with Jimmy Butler in the game. It didn’t matter though — Ayton would push ahead, winning the game 57-41 and making his first-round matchup look easy. LaVine is an above-average player in the NBA and seems to be above-average at 2K. It’s just that Ayton would be a 2K star. — Wolf
Derrick Jones Jr.: 5th-8th place (eliminated in quarterfinals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 78 | Game Skill Rating: 82
BANG! The young Miami Heat forward started off the 2K Players Tournament with a major upset. Seeded 16th, Jones beat No. 1 seed Durant in the opening round, making use of the Milwaukee Bucks, a tournament favorite and one of the best teams in the game, versus Durant’s Clippers. The game was fairly one-sided, too, with Jones taking over the game and winning out 78-62.
Jones would go on to face Harrell, an eventual semifinalist, whom he’d give a run for his money. Harrell’s Trail Blazers pick would best Jones’ Dallas Mavericks choice 71-66 in a close game that went back-and-forth. Jones was an underdog and relative unknown coming into the tournament, but no one should doubt his skill on the sticks again. A big win over KD and a competitive match versus Harrell, one of the best in the tournament, shows Jones isn’t to be underestimated. — Wolf
Michael Porter Jr.: 9th-16th place (eliminated in first round)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 81 | Game Skill Rating: 83
Sometimes in esports, random draw can either be your best (or worst) friend. For Nuggets youngster Michael Porter Jr., the fortunes were not in his favor in this tournament, drawing gaming savant Booker in the first round. Though losing by 10 in his only match of the tournament should generally suffice a low rating, I actually believe in most of the other first-round matchups, Porter would have had a strong chance of advancing. If he was given Harrell’s bracket for example, we could have seen him ball out before more than likely falling to one of the Phoenix Suns’ gaming titans in Booker or Ayton.
If there’s another one of these tournaments, I hope Porter gets another chance to showcase his gaming skills. Let’s just hope the bracket falls his way next time. — Erzberger
Montrezl Harrell: 3rd-4th place (eliminated in semifinals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 85 | Game Skill Rating: 87
Harrell was one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament, entering with minimal expectations around him but still making it all the way to the semifinals before being knocked off by pre-tournament favorite Booker.
The highlight of Harrell’s tournament came in the first round when he put on a clinic against Sabonis that led to the Indiana Pacers’ star to make fun of himself while the Clippers’ star kept pouring in the points. Although he had probably the easiest bracket of any of the semifinalists to get into the top four, there’s no question that Harrell can ball in real life and in the virtual world. — Erzberger
Trae Young: 5th-8th place (eliminated in quarterfinals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 90 | Game Skill Rating: 87
The young Atlanta Hawks guard started the tournament as the second seed, given his high NBA 2K20 rating. Young made an Instagram story post during the NBA season suspension saying he had only just started playing video games during the break — unlike most of his young NBA peers in the tournament, who have made a name for themselves gaming during the offseason and streaming it online. Young, though, looked like a seasoned 2K veteran, dominating Sacramento Kings forward Barnes 101-59, the second biggest blowout in the tournament, in the first round.
Young would go on to face Phoenix Suns center Ayton in the second round in a pretty close game. Ayton was clearly the better 2K player, but Young held his own. The showdown between the rising stars had Ayton, as the Clippers, beat Young, who played the Lakers, 73-66. Not too bad for Trae’s first showing in an esports tournament. Not bad at all. — Wolf
Andre Drummond: 5th-8th place (eliminated in quarterfinals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 85 | Game Skill Rating: 89
Andre Drummond has almost every gaming console imaginable, he loves diving into deep role-playing stories like God of War on Playstation, and he’s a true, authentic lover of video games. In his first game against Cousins, he smacked down the former Laker, securing the largest blowout of the entire tournament.
In the quarterfinals, however, the smack talk and the lockdown defense of Patrick Beverley ended Drummond’s tournament before he could make a run for a championship. Of all the players who were knocked out in the quarterfinals, Drummond was by far the best. If given another crack at an all-NBA gaming tournament (be it 2K or any other competitive game), I would be confident Drummond would be a definite contender. — Erzberger
Patrick Beverley: 3rd-4th place (eliminated in semifinals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 78 | Game Skill Rating: 90
Beverley may be known as a bulldog defender in real life and a trash talker to boot, but his 2K rating isn’t great. But on the sticks, Pat Bev is nice! Beverley’s trash talk made him a lovable star in a tournament that featured a few boring matches in the first round with players with very little personality. He turned up the heat on the first night of the tournament as he bested Trail Blazers big man Hassan Whiteside 84-54, all while chirping Whiteside. Gotta love it.
Beverley would go on to be a semifinalist, with an upset victory over Drummond in the quarterfinals. Drummond has played in other tournaments before and done well, so many expected him to take that game, but Beverley had different plans. Beverley wouldn’t be able to hold up against Ayton, but he showed he has some gaming skill. To make things better, his setup featured a painting of himself in the background. Baller moves from Pat Bev. — Wolf
Deandre Ayton: 2nd place (eliminated in finals)
NBA 2K20 Rating: 85 | Game Skill Rating: 93
As we entered this tournament, all of the hype was around Ayton’s teammate and known prolific gamer Booker. It’s difficult to overlook a 7-foot, No. 1 NBA draft pick, but that’s how it felt for Ayton with the kickoff of this tournament. It didn’t take long, though, for the Phoenix cornerstone to make his presence known, however, running out of the gate by running circles around Chicago Bulls ace Lavine.
From there, it was a fusion of smooth trash talking, dominant play and a whole lot of swagger, with Ayton rolling through both Young and Beverley to face off with friend and teammate Booker in the final. In the showdown for the championship, Ayton came up short, but he accomplished what he wanted to do when putting his name into the hat for this tournament — gain some respect for his gaming acumen. I think we can now safely say the Phoenix Suns have the strongest one-two NBA 2K punch in the entire league. — Erzberger
Devin Booker: 1st place
NBA 2K20 Rating: 86 | Game Skill Rating: 98
The Phoenix Suns guard is not only skilled on the court, but on the sticks, too. Coming into the tournament, he was already one of the NBA’s most prolific gamers, competing in tournaments, streaming on Twitch and a member of 100 Thieves, the professional esports team and apparel brand. Booker is probably best known for his Call of Duty skills, but with 2-0 wins over Clippers big man Harrell and teammate Ayton in the 2K Players Tournament Final, Booker showed his skills were transferable and that he has game on the virtual court.
Booker is one of the rising stars of the NBA, on a Suns team that has been plagued with losing but is expected to be on the rise. Booker’s a high-IQ guard in real life and his basketball skill shined in 2K, too, with nice passes and monstrous dunks down the lane. He knew when to take shots, how to make space and how to convert on high-percentage looks. He didn’t play the Suns a single time in the tournament — saying on Twitter on April 5 that he didn’t like his 2K avatar — but he made the most of teams such as the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and others.
Well done, Booker. You’re the best 2K player in the NBA. … Well, at least of the ones in the tournament. — Wolf