Well, that is, if you're going by the NBA2k11 average rating of each team's projected starting five (who doesn't turn fatigue off and play the starting five all game anyway?). The NBA2k11 ratings have the Pistons falling just shy of making the top eight in the Eastern Conference, tying with the Bobcats' starting lineup average of 73.4. They're both edged out by the 76ers, who sneak into the playoffs with a starting five rating of 74.
If you've read to this point and still don't know what NBA2k11 is, well, I'm sorry, but you should get a life. It's a video game. And player ratings in sports video games just happen to be a very contentious subject because every game player wants them as real as possible. Why, if the ratings aren't exactly how they are in real life, we might as well leave it on the shelf. We won't want to play season mode unless we know that it'll play out the upcoming Pistons season to a MF-T. If our little digital player stands at half court like Jesus, we expect a real player to do exactly that in precisely the same game on the schedule.
Of course, the ratings (and really weird glitches) are taken into account when also deciding which game to buy. Usually, for the NBA game players, the decision is between NBA2k11 or EA's NBA Live. For now, I have all the NBA2k11 average team ratings, highest rated player on each team (with other notables), and a link to full roster ratings for 12 teams (and a link to every projected starting five, if you missed it above). All of the Pistons ratings are after the jump (and you should be really excited to know that the Pistons' full roster rating -- 69 -- averages out to be better than the No. 1 Heat's -- 68.533, repeating of course. That MUST be what Rodney Stuckey was talking about when he said the Pistons have the best team on paper).
1. Miami Heat: 82.2 (James and Wade: 97)
2. Boston Celtics: 80.2 (Rondo: 87)
3. Orlando Magic: 78.4 (Howard 88)
4. Chicago Bulls: 77.8 (Rose and Boozer: 85)
5. Atlanta Hawks: 77.6 (Johnson: 88)
6. Milwaukee Bucks: 76 (Maggette: 78)
7. New York Knicks: 75 (Stoudemire: 86)
8. Philadelphia 76ers: 74 (Iguodala: 85)
9. Detroit Pistons: 73.4 (Hamilton: 77)
10. Charlotte Bobcats: 73.4 (Jackson and Wallace 84)
11. Washington Wizards: 73.2 (Arenas: 83, Wall: 81)
12. New Jersey Nets: 73 (Lopez: 81)
13. Cleveland Cavaliers: 71.4 (Jamison: 78)
14. Indiana Pacers: 70.6 (Granger: 83)
15. Toronto Raptors: 67.8 (Barbosa 75)
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 82.2 (Bryant: 97)
2. Houston Rockets: 79.4 (Ming: 83)
3. Dallas Mavericks: 79.2 (Dirk and KIDD: 83)
4. New Orleans Hornets: 79 (Paul 95)
5. Denver Nuggets: 78.6 (Anthony: 93)
6. Memphis Grizzlies: 78.2 (Gay: 81)
7. Utah Jazz: 78 (Williams: 92)
8. San Antonio Spurs: 77.2 (Duncan: 90, McDyess: 68)
9. Portland Trail Blazers: 77 (Roy: 88)
10. Golden State Warriors: 76 (Ellis: 84, Lee: 83, Curry: 80)
11. Oklahoma City Thunder: 74.8 (Durant: 91)
12. Los Angeles Clippers: 73.6 (Davis 79)
13. Sacramento Kings: 71.8 (Evans: 82)
14. Phoenix Suns: 71.4 (Nash: 85)
15. Minnesota Timberwolves: 69 (Love and Flynn: 74)
What stuck out most to me was (1) Kidd being rated an extremely generous 84, (2) seeing the Thunder out of the playoffs after taking the champs to the brink of elimination in the first round of last year's playoffs -- Kevin Durant won't let them miss the playoffs, and (3) Paul being ranked higher than D. Williams -- I know the debate of who's better has been had many times, in many places, including here.
If you strongly disagree with any particular rating, one of your options is to send a zealous letter to the game's creator. The Ethan Albright letter to John Madden remains one of the funnier responses to a video game's player ratings, and it's better because it (supposedly) comes from the player himself. Feel free to try and top that in the comments here, but not before you take a look at the Pistons ratings after the jump.
77 – Tayshaun Prince (SF)*
76 – Ben Gordon (SG)
76 – Richard Hamilton (SG)
74 – Ben Wallace (C)
74 – Rodney Stuckey (PG)
73 – Tracy McGrady (SG)
71 – Charlie Villanueva (PF)
71 – Jason Maxiell (PF)
71 – Will Bynum (PG)
67 – Greg Monroe (C)
66 – Jonas Jerebko (SF)
62 – Chris Wilcox (C)
60 – Austin Daye (SF)
59 – Chucky Atkins (PG)
59 – DaJuan Summers (SF)
*You'll notice that Prince and Hamilton's ratings were flip-flopped, but the site that had all the starter ratings said they came straight from the folks at 2k, so I put Hamilton before the jump as the 77.
Video game will be released on Tuesday, October 5.