The conspiracy theory behind Hassan Whiteside's strong ‘NBA 2K’ tournament rating

Written By Dan Bernstein
Hassan-Whiteside-040220-getty-ftr
(Getty Images)

Hassan Whiteside's 87 rating in "NBA 2K20" gives him the No. 3 seed in the 2020 Players Tournament — a better spot than Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Zach Lavine, Montrezl Harrell and Domantas Sabonis.

Why is Whiteside rated better than all of those players?

The straightforward reason is that he was having an extremely underrated season for the Blazers before it was postponed, quietly proving doubts about his viability in the modern NBA to be overblown. But there's also the long-lived theory that Whiteside gets some extra love from game developers because of his aggressive ratings campaigning over the years. This is far from the first edition of the game that Whiteside has held a stellar mark, and it's easy to see how his avid marketing of the franchise works to his advantage.

Whiteside's virtual rating might not matter much in the grand scheme of real world events right now, but with the Players Tournament upon us, it's still an interesting topic to explore.

MORE: How much prize money will the 'NBA 2K' tournament winner get?

From a statistical angle, Whiteside's 2019-20 season holds up well compared to the bigs rated slightly below him in the Players Tournament. And really, it's tough to argue he hasn't been in the best form of his career this campaign using any form of evaluation.

Whiteside (87): 16.3 points per game, 14.2 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game, 62.1 effective field goal percentage, 25 PER.

Harrell (85): 18.6 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists per game, 58 effective field goal percentage, 23.1 PER

Sabonis (85): 18.5 points per game, 12.4 rebounds per game, 5 assists per game, 55 effective field goal percentage, 20.7 PER.

That said, Whiteside has long had to deal with accusations he is someone whose box score numbers do more for himself than his actual play does for his team. The Heat benched him repeatedly at the end of his five-year stint in Miami, then traded him to Portland this past summer. Critics, then, would argue that Harrell and Sabonis are more valuable contributors among bigs, and a guard like Booker moves the needle more in a cross-size comparison.

That leads to Whiteside's relationship with "NBA 2K." Unlike other NBA stars who have slandered the game in the past, Whiteside has been one of its biggest fans. Further, he has made a point to publicly campaign for ratings boosts dating back to his breakthrough 2014-15 season.

"I'm trying to get my 'NBA 2K' rating up," Whiteside said in a now-famous postgame national TV interview in January 2015. Later that night, he direct messaged community manager Chris Manning to follow up about his request.

Ask and you shall receive:

A few months later, Whiteside showed up to a Summer League game with a shirt bearing his catchphrase.

In the ensuing years, Whiteside continued to be a leading ambassador for the basketball series, regularly posting to social media about his games and periodically asking for rating bumps.

He appeared on "NBA 2KTV" this past December.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with Whiteside wanting to juice his video game rating. If given the chance, most of us would probably do the same thing. Props to him for that.

Has his lobbying helped him become an 87 and led him to the No. 3 seed in the Players Tournament? It seems possible, if not probable.

One thing is certain: Digital marketing director Ronnie 2K won't be calling Whiteside by the same negative names he used for DeMarcus Cousins this week.

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