(THE GUARDIAN) - In what is fast becoming a kind of annual revenge of the nerds, NBA 2K video game developers have revealed a number of player skill ratings for the 2018 version of the game, leaving a few of the league's millionaire stars decidedly unhappy.
Injury-prone Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid is the most disgruntled of the lot.
Having been asked where he felt his ranking would sit for the newest version of the game, the 23-year-old said: "Well, it's kind of hard to rate me, because I felt like last year, when I was on the court, I was the best defender in the league, and then as a big man I can do everything - shoot threes, post up, handle the ball, be a playmaker - so I'll be honest, I should be at least 95."
Told he had been assigned only 86 points, he was not impressed.
"What? That's bullcrap," he said. "I'm not going to curse. I just got fined, so I'm not going to curse, but 86? I'm definitely going to bump it up to 95 during the season."
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving echoed Embiid's optimism, and figured he should have been closer to 95, but will have to content himself with the status of cover star on the game's packaging and a far less imposing rating of 90.
After a long pause and shake of the head, Irving said, "I love it. It's motivating me now. By the end of the season, mark my words, I will be a 93 plus."
Not all players were as quick on the uptake as Embiid and Irving. Told he had been assigned a score of 89, Portland Trailblazers star Damian Lillard noted it was an improvement on his 2017 rating. In fact, the game's creators had given him 90 last year.
Karl-Anthony Towns was one player who was actually pleased with the game's programmers.
An improved rating of 91 led to an appreciative tweet from the Minnesota Timberwolves star, and also a mild ribbing for Embiid.
"I can't wait to tell Joel I've got nothing to complain about," he said. "I do trust the process on that one. I do trust the process."
Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas received a comedown of similar magnitude to Embiid's, scoring 89 when he had jokingly predicted he was worth 96 or higher, but he took the bad news with a grain of salt.
"I definitely thought it would be a little bit higher but it's all good," said the guard.
Not every rating for the game - which will be released on September 17 - is available yet, so a number of players still nervously await their fate at the hands of developers.