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While today in the NBA, we are all glued to the court to see how many threes Steph Curry will score, or how many triple doubles Russell Westbrook will amass, it was the stars of yesteryear that provided the inspiration for what we see today.
GiveMeSport has already profiled the best players of the current era with the help of NBA2K22, but now it’s time to go in-depth on the game’s GOATs, A.K.A. greatest of all-time.
Here are the 10 highest-rated players NBA 2K22 has ever seen, and a little bit about what makes them so special, based on the game’s stats and ratings.
Shaquille O’Neal – All-Time Los Angeles Lakers: 98 OVR
First up in the top 10 we have the legend that is Shaquille O’Neal. The four-time NBA champion was as dominant as they come during his peak years in the noughties, winning NBA Finals MVP three times between 2000–2002.
‘Shaq attack’ was a Paint Beast at 7’1, and would become a house-hold name throughout his spells at Miami Heat and LA Lakers. His Inside Scoring is some of the best the NBA has ever seen with a 98 Layup, 98 Driving Dunk, and 98 Handles.
He has a total of 27 Badges, in which 11 of them are Hall of Fame level, for a career that spanned from 1992–2011.
Kevin Garnett – All-Time Minnesota Timberwolves: 98 OR
‘Anything is possible!’ came the cry from Kevin Garnett as Boston Celtics claimed the 2008 NBA title against LA Lakers.
Known as the ‘Big Ticket’ for his extraordinary dunking and athleticism, his in-game stats reflect that superiority, with 97 Standing Dunk, 98 Hustle and 91 in Athleticism overall.
As of 2020, he is one of five NBA players to have won both NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year award. He has 36 badges in the game including Defensive Leader and Brick Wall, in which six of them are Hall of Fame level.
Elsewhere, Garnett’s Rebounding is 94 and Defending is rated at 80.
Oscar Robertson – All-Time Sacramento Kings: 98 OR
Oscar Robertson was a 12-time All-Star, one-time winner of the MVP award, and claimed an NBA championship during his illustrious 14-season career in the NBA.
The ‘Big O’ was the first player in history to average a triple-double for the season (and still the only player in history besides Russell Westbrook).
On the same side as the iconic Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Bucks’ 1971 title victory, Robertson was a 2-Way Threat at Point or Shooting Guard.
NBA 2K22 rates his Playmaking at 92, Outside Scoring at 90, while his Layup gets a 98.
Dirk Nowitzki – All-Time Dallas Mavericks: 98 OR
The 7’1 German became a Dallas Mavericks hero during his entire 21-year NBA career — taking the Mavs to 15 NBA playoff appearances. He was also a huge part of their 2011 championship, winning Finals MVP in the process.
Nowitzki was a versatile front-court player who mostly played as a power forward. An exceptional shooter for his size, he made 88% of free throws and nearly 50% of his field goal attempts.
This is reflected in NBA 2K22’s stats, which have his Free Throw rating at 92 and Mid-range shot at 98. Nowitzki’s Playmaking is where his weakness lies, though, with a 64 Rating. But an overall 98 proves just how emphatic he was.
Larry Bird – All-Time Boston Celtics: 98 OR
Affectionately known as ‘the Hick from French Lick’, Bird is the only person in NBA History to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
This shows his ability to stay at the top of the game and, crucially, how he adapted to an ever-changing dynamic in the NBA, no matter the role.
Bird was adept at three-point-shooting, while he’s also remembered as an excellent passer, with his agility making him a strong team defender, too.
This is reflected in his in-game stats, with a 98 Three Point Shot, 94 Pass Accuracy and 97 Help Defense IQ contributing to a 98 overall rating.
Tim Duncan – All-Time San Antonio Spurs: 98 OR
Tim Duncan was part of the famous San Antonio Spurs side that included Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. The Power Forward wasn’t known not for being as spectacular as other players at his position – but this earned him the nickname ‘The Big Fundamental’.
Duncan was a dominant force on the court, gaining a reputation as a clutch player, as evidenced by his three NBA Finals MVP awards.
He would more often than not save his best form for the play-offs – his post-season stats always averaged higher than in the regular season.
His in-game ratings reflect this, with 95 Rebounding, 98 Defensive Consistency and a 98 Shot IQ to name a few. Underrated or not, Duncan was the man of the hour.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – All-Time LA Lakers: 99 OR
Despite securing the majority of his team honours in the 1980s, it was the ‘70s when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar truly announced himself as a force to be reckoned with in the NBA.
He helped the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA title in 1971 — and it took them 50 years to win another one, led by Giannis Antetekounmpo in 2021 — while amassing 6 regular season MVP awards between 1972 and 1980.
Abdul-Jabbar would write himself into the Hall of Fame with five NBA championships with LA Lakers in the ‘80s, which secured a 99 overall rating with NBA 2K22.
His Inside Scoring is a key attribute, while his 7’2 frame means he had untouchable Rebounding ability — quite simply a Paint Beast.
LeBron James – Current LA Lakers: 99 OR
The only current active player in the top 10 list. LeBron James has transcended the sport in the last 15 years, being at the forefront of the game during Jordan’s last years, Kobe Bryant’s era, and into the latest generation of Durant, Curry and now Luka Doncic.
James has won four NBA championships — two while at Miami Heat, one at home-town side Cleveland Cavaliers, and his latest in 2020 with LA Lakers. The All-Around-2-Way Power Forward has 66 Badges, with 12 at Hall of Fame Level.
Picking out some of LBJ’s key 2K22 stats, his Outside Scoring comes in at a 91 rating, with Athleticism at 92, and his Layup at 98. It’s LeBron’s Offensive Rebound that proves his weakness, however, coming in at 52.
James will still have ambitions to claim at least one more chip as he closes in on 20 years in the league. If team-mates Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook can click into gear, he might just do it.
Magic Johnson – All-Time LA Lakers: 99 OR
The LA Lakers great is second on our list and another player who scored a 99 NBA 2K22 in-game rating. The 6’9 All Around Threat bagged 5 NBA rings in his career with three Finals MVPs to his name as the Lakers duelled with Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons during the 1980s.
Statistically, Johnson dominated on court, with a 98-rated Shot IQ, his Handles have an in-game rating of 98, while his Pass Accuracy is 99. He has a total of 36 badges, in which five are Hall of Fame level.
Magic was chosen to compete in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, alongside Jordan, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird — dubbed the ‘Dream Team’.
Michael Jordan – All-Time Chicago Bulls: 99 OR
Many call Jordan ‘THE GOAT’ and it’s no surprise to see MJ lead the way after claiming six NBA championships, six NBA Finals MVP, and five regular season MVP awards — to name just a few of his accolades.
Being one of only four players to have an overall rating of 99 on NBA 2K22, Jordan dominated the league not once, but twice, returning to Chicago Bulls with his infamous ‘I’m back’ statement in 1995.
His build in 2K22 is of an All-Around 2-way Monster, with 57 badges, of which 18 are Hall of Fame level.
Notable stats include 94 rated Outside Scoring and 86 Playmaking. He does need to work on his Rebounding, however — the legendary Shooting Guard is only rated 58 in that discipline.