How does NBA 2k24 predict the Washington Wizards season?

CHINA - 2023/07/29: In this photo illustration, the NBA app logo is displayed on the screen of a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
CHINA - 2023/07/29: In this photo illustration, the NBA app logo is displayed on the screen of a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

In a previous article, I argued for a starting lineup of Delon Wright, Jordan Poole, Corey Kispert, Kyle Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford for the Washington Wizards in the 2023-24 NBA season.

The primary backups would include Tyus Jones as the sixth man, Landry Shamet, Bilal Coulibaly, Deni Avdija, and Mike Muscala as the rest of the rotation. Ryan Rollins and Patrick Baldwin Jr. would largely play major 3rd string roles.

The prediction with this lineup was a maximum of 32 wins, with no trades and no injuries.

After inputting this lineup into the 2k24 My League engine, the simulation resulted in 29 wins. Close to the prediction, but the 2k engine had significantly undervalued Gafford’s contribution while their predictions of Poole and Kuzma were close. Had Gafford not been undervalued, the simulation likely would have resulted in the three additional wins. Here’s the line for each.

Jordan Poole’s 2k24 simulation stats show a highly efficient volume scorer

NBA 2k24 stat line:  25.9 PPG, 48.0% FG%, 37% 3P%, 2.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 20.4 PER

My prediction: 24.0 PPG, 45.0% FG%, 39% 3PG%, 5.0 APG, 20 PER

While there were some slight variations in PPG and FG%, the 2k24 simulation was generally on par with my initial projection.

However, the 2k24 prediction is a bit on the low side in terms of Poole’s assist average. His assists-per-game has been on an upward trajectory since year 2. It increased from 1.9 in 2020-21 to 4.0 in 2021-22 and 4.5 in 2022-23.

Poole will have the ball in his hands more and will be asked to play the role he did while Curry was injured last year for Golden State. An APG closer to 5.0 makes more sense, especially given the lob threat from Gafford and the catch-and-shoot capability of Kispert, Shamet, Muscala, and Gallinari.

Kyle Kuzma’s 2k24 stat line is impressive

NBA 2k24 stat line:  23.2 PPG, 49% FG%, 39% 3P%, 6.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 19.0 PER

My prediction: 23.5 PPG: 46.6 FG%, 34% 3P%, 9.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, 18.5 PER

The 2k24 simulation relied on improved efficiency from the three and the field in general, while my prediction focused more on an improvement in rebounding and a higher volume of shots and free throws.

Of the two predictions for Kuzma and Poole, Poole has the highest degree of variability.  Poole is in a new system, with new teammates, and a lot more is being asked of him than what has been asked historically. There is the possibility that Poole will attempt to force things that aren’t there, he may get frustrated with losing and play less efficiently.

Poole has the higher upside, but Kuzma is a surer bet based on his history with the team and his comfort with being the go-to scorer in clutch situations. It’s close between these two players, and despite the PER predictions above, the edge still resides with Kuzma.

Daniel Gafford continues to be undervalued

NBA 2k24 stat line:  11.7 PPG, 61.0 FG%, 0% 3P%, 10.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 2.3 BPG, 16.6 PER

My prediction:  13.0 PPG, 72.0% FG%, 0% 3P%, 10.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.5 BPG, 21.8 PER

There are some major differences between the way 2k24 assessed Gafford and the way I assessed his historical stats and his future fit coming into the year. The 2k24 prediction of 16.6 PER is interesting, given that Gafford’s PER was only that low once before in his career; his rookie season. Outside of that, he had a PER ranging from 18.8 to 25.4. The undervaluation is typical of the way the NBA looks at traditional centers, but his historical stats suggest he should exceed these projections by a wide margin.

Gafford is truly one of the best rim runners in the game, but don’t expect him to be valued appropriately unless he is in a winning situation.

Gafford’s stats per 36 minutes as a Wizard shed light on his potential. His field goal percentage and his points per game should both benefit from Kuzma, Avdjia, Jones, and Poole’s lobs to the rim. The bulk of his points should come from hustle plays at the rim.

An extra 15 minutes per game shouldn’t reduce Gafford’s efficiency. The bigger question is whether he can get those extra 15 minutes. His problem has historically been his inability to stay out of foul trouble. Without much center depth, the team will rely on Gafford more than ever.

Despite the earlier prediction of maximum wins of 32, the likelier scenario this season will likely be around 25 wins due to injuries, trades, and playing certain players to boost their trade value. There’s also the added incentive of keeping and maximizing the draft pick for the 2024 NBA Draft. The only way the Wizards can massively overachieve is if Poole exceeds expectations and proves that he is indeed the second coming of James Harden.