'NBA 2K19' Player Ratings: Deandre Ayton Render And Overall Rating Revealed

Phoenix Suns’ No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton will be rated a 79 overall in NBA 2K19 when the game is released on September 11 for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Deandre Ayton in NBA 2K19Credit: 2K

The Suns took the Arizona product with the top pick after an impressive freshman campaign. Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocked shots. He also made 34 percent of his three-point attempts.

Deandre Ayton in NBA 2K19Credit: 2K

Unfortunately, Ayton and the Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the first round. The 79 rating seems a little low for a top pick. Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Markelle Fultz got an 80 rating out of the gate. Not only is Ayton rated beneath last year’s top pick, he has an equal overall rating as Luka Doncic who was drafted third.

The 79 overall rating is consistent with what the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons got as the top pick coming out of the 2016 draft. With the Sacramento Kings’ Marvin Bagley only getting a 78 rating, it appears as though Doncic is the player with a mark that is above his draft slot.

Expect to hear arguments from both sides of the fence, even though the difference is just two overall points.

As we saw with the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum last year, the No. 3 pick can outperform the two players drafted ahead of him when it counts. Ayton is the highest-rated rookie big man in the game since Anthony Davis started his career with a 79 overall rating in NBA 2K13. As the upcoming season progresses, it’ll be interesting to monitor which players trend up, down or stay even with their initial assessment.

I write about sports and video games. I began my career with Bleacher Report in 2010 and I’m now a Forbes Contributor as well as a YouTuber, Twitch streamer and co-host of The Fight Guys podcast, The SimHangout, and my own weekly Q&A AskMazique. I’ve been blessed to make…


AT&T Is Sending Collection Agents After Its Own Retirees

AT&T has taken the rare step of hiring collection agencies to pursue money it says it is owed by its own retired former employees. AT&T claims the retirees mistakenly received excess pension benefit payments, but some say they don’t have the ability to return the funds.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, pension overpayments, some dating back decades, have been identified by Fidelity, the company’s current pension administrator. Unsurprisingly, many recipients of pension overpayments assume the payments are correct and use the money to pay living and medical expenses, leaving them unable to repay the funds. AT&T says overpayments have impacted “significantly less than 1/10th of 1%” of roughly 517,000 pension participants, and only a small number of those have been referred to collection agencies.

But retirees who have been impacted report significant anxiety. Eileen Ralston, 75, worked for AT&T in two separate roles between 1970 and 1999, and was mistakenly sent excess pension payments because one of her positions was essentially counted twice. She told the Journal she initially thought the higher payments were a mistake, but was reassured by pension administrators that they were correct.

In September of 2017, Ralston found out her suspicions had been correct – she was told she owed the plan $58,500.11 because of the miscalculation. Ralston has not repaid and has not been referred to a collection agency, but worries AT&T will take further action.

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AT&T did not disclose exactly how many of its retirees may be in similar situations, but 17 former AT&T workers have contacted lawyers at the nonprofit Pension Rights Center. Several recipients of excess benefits have cited an inability to pay and asked that the repayment demands be waived, but have been denied, according to the Journal. Some were notified that collection efforts would be put on hold, but that AT&T reserved the right to resume them in the future.

The company’s approach has divided pension experts. The IRS requires that companies make serious efforts to recover excess pension payments, which reduce funds available to other recipients. Failing to recoup overpayments, some pension lawyers told the Journal, could threaten pension programs’ tax benefits. However, the IRS says missing funds can also be replaced by seeking restitution from plan administrators who caused the errors the first place, or repaying them from company funds. AT&T reported $5.1 billion in net profit in the second quarter of 2018.

A lawyer with the South Central Pension Rights Project told the Journal his service has not previously seen collection agencies involved in such situations, and described AT&T’s tactics as “kind of harsh.” Former Treasury Department officials also said they had not seen collection agencies used in similar cases. AT&T and Fidelity, for their part, described their tactics as “common and similar to how most other employers handle this issue.”

Wall Street eyes more gains from Apple, its $1 trillion stock

(Reuters) – Shares in Apple Inc (AAPL.O) edged higher on Friday but stayed close to the $1 trillion valuation milestone the iPhone maker reached a day earlier, even as Wall Street predicted more gains.

An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. stock price at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York City, New York, U.S., August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

After becoming the first $1 trillion publicly-listed U.S. company on Thursday, Apple last traded up 0.1 pct at $207.57 after falling as low as $205.48 and as high as $208.74, as it oscillated around the $207.0425 price that marked the record market cap.

Daniel Morgan, portfolio manager at Synovus Trust in Atlanta, said Apple’s lukewarm Friday was a temporary pause for the stock rather than a sign it could lose ground.

“It’s like the horse that crosses the finish line and says I’m totally wiped out,” said Morgan, whose firm holds more than 200,000 shares in Apple.

“There was a strong earnings report on Tuesday. All the enthusiasm around the $1 trillion market capitalization, both those things have just exhausted the current trading in Apple. And it’s Friday. The whole week was engulfed by Apple,” he said.

Apple still looks relatively cheap even with a trillion dollar valuation. Its shares trade at less than 16 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, according to Morgan, who said he would be comfortable with a multiple of 18 or 19 for the stock.

“That’s a reasonable level so I don’t feel there’s any risk that people will say its trading at a $1 trillion let’s put the brakes on this … If it was Amazon or Netflix that were hitting a trillion, then we could have that conversation,” he said.

(Interactive Graphic – Apple hits $1 trillion stock valuation: tmsnrt.rs/2Mg6mZ8)

Netflix (NFLX.O) currently trades at 93.8 times estimates for its earnings in the next 12 months while Amazon.Com’s (AMZN.O) multiple is 83.74.

“If Apple trades at 20 times earnings that would be crazy,” he said, estimating that Apple shares could go as high as $220 by year-end.

Amazon, Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) are in a tight race to become the second U.S. company to reach the $1 trillion milestone.

Most sell-side analysts also seemed to see $1 trillion as just one milestone on Apple’s way to greater gains as the median price target for the stock is $218.50 and the mean price target at $215.46, according to data collected by Thomson Reuters.

The highest price expectation for the stock is Brian White’s $275 target, which would mean a $1.3 trillion valuation, according to the analyst from Monness Crespi Hardt, who says he was first on the Street with a price target that reflected a $1-trillion valuation.

Despite the record valuation, White said, “Apple is one of the most under-appreciated stocks in the world.”

Trip Miller, managing partner at Gullane Capital LLC in Memphis, said Apple “should trade much higher.”

“They are so dependent on one product for such a huge part of their revenue that I believe that’s why it gets that discount,” said Miller whose firm also owns Amazon shares.

(Graphic: Apple revenue by segment, product units – tmsnrt.rs/2LNgw6q)

Reporting By James Thorne and Sinéad Carew in New York, Noel Randewich in San Francisco,; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Tom Brown

Google in talks with Tencent, others for cloud services in China: BBG

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is in talks with Tencent Holdings Ltd, Inspur Group and other Chinese companies to offer its cloud services in the mainland, Bloomberg reported here on Friday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

The talks began in early 2018 and the internet giant narrowed partnership candidates to three firms in late March.

It is immediately unclear if the plans will proceed in the wake of increasing trade tensions between China and the United States, the report said.

Google and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google, which quit China’s search engine market in 2010, has been actively seeking ways to re-enter China, where many of its products are blocked by regulators.

Through local partnership, Google aims to run its internet-based services through the domestic data centers and servers of Chinese providers, similar to the way other U.S. cloud companies access that market, the report said.

Reuters on Thursday reported that Google plans to launch a version of its search engine in China that will block some websites and search terms.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

It's Never Too Late to Be a Reader Again

It was a book that drove me away from books. This wasn’t a trauma of distaste, or indulgence: not a literary bad mussel, not waking up on the floor of someone’s house with a swimming head and the knowledge that I could never again be within smelling distance of their first editions. My aversion was borne of fear.

The fear took root in 2016—which, while decidedly not-great in general, was very much a great year for books. Especially fiction. Especially especially speculative fiction. Between new releases and neo-classics I finally got around to reading (*cough* American Gods *cough*), not to mention the WIRED Book Club, the year remains the most consistently pleasant span on my otherwise dusty and shame-ridden Goodreads page. The books were an escape. Early in the year I’d been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to write a book of my own, and responded by getting as far away from the project as possible, diving into imaginary worlds as though I could take up residence there.

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Knowing the task I faced and my keen desire to avoid it, you’d think I would be able to find a balance. You’d think that once I settled into some sort of writing routine, that groove would accommodate pleasure reading. Not so much, as it turns out! Instead, books became daunting. I’d start a novel, and my focus would atrophy almost immediately. I’d get 100 pages in, or 60, or 20, and put it to the side. The reason was never dislike, but rather a host of other culprits. Seeing a published book, I’d remember that I wasn’t finished—and that I’d never be finished. I was consumed with the idea that I’d be intimidated by someone else’s gift, that I’d subconsciously mimic another’s voice. These weren’t rational concerns so much as they were whispers of pettiness and self-doubt, the same ones that haunt us all in tiny ways; still, their small voices massed in a choir that out-sang any note a book could strike. (What made this sadder still is I was working on a nonfiction book. Novels should have been a DMZ for my insecurities, not an incubator.)

That’s how 2016 ended; that’s how 2017 passed; that’s how 2018 began. Somewhere along the way, I finished my book, and the cloud began to lift. I started going to bookstores again, taking pictures of covers and spines so I’d remember them later. I started buying novels once more. But while they helped me to think of myself as a reader again, they didn’t get read. Instead, they stacked—on my coffee table, next to my bed, crowding the front page of my Kindle. As the BBC kindly pointed out recently, this was a textbook case of tsundoku: good-faith purchases that start as literature but become architecture. Turns out, though, that having a Japanese term for something doesn’t make it feel any better.

Gaining traction again was a matter of steering into the skid. Sometimes you—OK, sometimes I—don’t need challenging prose or epic scope or shifting perspectives and unreliable narrators; sometimes you need a fucking yarn. Which, for me, means crime novels. My father sparked the habit by feeding me Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books when I was a kid, and I’ve been a junkie ever since. Patricia Cornwell’s innumerable books about forensics expert Kay Scarpetta; Andrew Vachss’ series starring Burke, the child abuse survivor who took down creeps with extreme prejudice. I can’t remember what introduced me to Jack Reacher, but I read the first eight of Lee Child’s books about the ex-soldier-turned-do-gooder in rapid succession, never caring that by the fourth one I could see their templated structures like so many 1s and 0s in the Matrix. Donald Stark’s Parker novels? God, yes, that’s the good stuff.

In 2018, the hit came courtesy of—who else?—Stephen King. Reading Amazon comments while considering an impulse buy of The Outsider, I saw someone mention that it was a cousin to King’s so-called Bill Hodges trilogy of detective novels. So I got the first, Mr. Mercedes. Two weeks later, I’d devoured all three. Where they great? They were not. Did I care? Not even a little. If story is the carbohydrate of fiction, King makes a mean baguette.

Besides, they’d given me at least a degree of mojo back. I was back in that place where I would look forward to reading, where I’d reach for a book instead of my phone. But instead of starting to scale my tsundoku mountain, I surprised myself by going looking for one of the novels I’d abandoned during my exile: Paul La Farge’s The Night Ocean, the fictional tale of a journalist who had gone missing after writing a book about H.P. Lovecraft’s hidden gay affair. Crossing the hundredth page— the same one that had felled me more than a year before—I felt something in my chest settle. And when I got to the last page, I realized I’d found something more than a beautifully unresolved ending. I’d found a reckoning.

Look, I’m just gonna say it. Reading is hard. Not the act, but the pursuit. There’s always something else to do—something easier, something bigger or louder, something that makes you feel better, something that makes you feel worse. (Looking at you, social media.) But none of that changes the fact that we all want to be readers. That’s why Goodreads elicits hope and inadequacy in equal measure; it’s why you keep that paperback in your bag even if you haven’t opened it since you bought it two months ago. And it’s why putting a book down unfinished creates a little scar tissue. I couldn’t do it, you think. I failed. Couple that with the ever-growing list of books you want to read, and the only choice is to march grimly on; looking back is grief.

Something happened when I went back to that fallen book, though. I found myself appreciating not just the rest of the book, but everything that had happened since the time I’d first closed it. It was story and sacrament in one, a healing that I never expected. So, instead of beginning one of the many new titles I’d amassed, I returned to the scene of the crime again. And this reunion—with Babylon’s Ashes, the sixth book in the Expanse saga of sci-fi novels—was even sweeter.

With so much life waiting in my reading list, I’m ready to leave my other ghosts behind. But next time you put down a book, remember this: It’s not you. It’s not the book, either. (OK, maybe it’s the book.) It’s the timing. A year down the road, maybe more, that book might be just the thing you need. Maybe you need to grow into it; maybe it needs to grow into you. But you’re not going to discover that connection if you pretend it never happened. Anything can drive you away from reading—but only a book will bring you back.

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Tesla shares spike, dealing short-sellers a $1.7 billion loss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shares soared 16 percent on Thursday, a day after the electric car maker’s better-than-expected quarterly report, and financial analytics firm S3 Partners said short-sellers were slammed with $1.7 billion in paper losses on the day.

FILE PHOTO: The Tesla logo is seen at the entrance to Tesla Motors’ new showroom in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in New York City, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

S3 said the day’s losses pushed the aggregate year-to-date performance of short-sellers in Tesla into the red. Short-sellers aim to profit by selling borrowed shares, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price. Tesla is the most shorted U.S. stock.

Until Wednesday, Tesla short-sellers had, on paper, been up $276 million for the year. Following Thursday’s stock surge, they now have losses of $1.4 billion for the year, S3 data showed.

“We are not seeing a large amount of buy to covers yet,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at S3 in New York, referring to traders buying shares to close out an existing short position.

“With such a large price move on the open, most short-sellers that are looking to cover are waiting for a retracement before placing buy-to-cover orders,” he said.

Tesla shares rallied $48.70 to $349.54 a day after the manufacturer said it would produce its new Model 3 sedan at a profit, following several recent weeks in which output had stabilized.

The update buoyed hopes that the company led by Elon Musk will stanch its losses.

Tesla’s rapid cash burn and struggles at turning a profit have made it a favorite target for shorts, including big names such as Jim Chanos, head of Kynikos Associates, and billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital fund.

Since the beginning of 2016, Tesla is the fourth-worst performing U.S. short bet, and short-sellers have lost $4.70 billion on a net basis over that period, according to S3 data.

A sharp rally in the electric car maker’s shares since early April has hurt short-sellers.

On Tuesday, Einhorn told investors that his bet against the stock had turned into heavy second-quarter losses at his Greenlight Capital fund.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by David Gregorio and Phil Berlowitz

Reddit Got Hacked Thanks to a Woefully Insecure Two-Factor Setup

Reddit said in a blog post Wednesday that a hacker broke into the company’s systems in June and gained access to a variety of data, including user emails, source code and internal files, and “all Reddit data from 2007 and before.” And it likely could have been avoided if some Reddit employees were using two-factor authentication apps or physical keys instead of their phone numbers.

“On June 19, we learned that an attacker compromised a few of Reddit’s accounts with cloud and source code hosting providers by intercepting SMS 2FA verification codes,” a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement. (Advance Publications, which owns WIRED publisher Condé Nast, is Reddit’s majority shareholder.) “We are working with federal law enforcement, and have also taken measures to both address this current situation and prevent similar incidents in the future. A small number of users were affected and have been notified.”

Among the compromised information was a 2007 Reddit database backup, which means if you were using the platform back then, your account information from that time—like your email address, username, and password—has been exposed. Reddit says the passwords were protected by cryptographic salting and hashing defenses, but if you still use that old password for your Reddit account, or any online account, you should change it to a strong, random password in case the Reddit trove can be cracked.

“Since the salting and hashing is going back to 2006 or 2007, it’s likely sub-optimal,” says Kenn White, director of the Open Crypto Audit Project. “Everyone should probably change their passwords.”

Reddit also noted that logs from June 3 to June 17, 2018 related to the platform’s “email digests” were exposed. This is a problem, because access to that information would allow attackers to see the usernames connected to each user email address—helpful information if you’re trying to compromise accounts. The digests also make suggestions about posts and subreddits a user might like, which potentially gives attackers additional information about individuals on Reddit.

Those are the main user impacts the company is highlighting, but chief technology officer Christopher Slowe mentions in the blog post that the breach also compromised “Reddit source code, internal logs, configuration files and other employee workspace files.” All those things combined could give hackers deep insight into Reddit’s fundamental structure and architecture, which creates a long-term risk the company will need to address.

“Once a criminal sneaks in through a window in your house in the middle of the night, yes, they can steal your china, snap a picture of your bank statements, and drink your beer,” White says.

Attackers got into Reddit’s systems by compromising some employee administrative accounts for company cloud storage and source code storage. Slowe notes in the blog post that the employees were using two-factor authentication to protect these crucial accounts, but some number of them had that layer of protection set up with SMS—meaning someone would need a code texted to their mobile number to complete an account login. The problem is that SMS-based two-factor is known to be insecure, because attackers can launch a “SIM swapping” attack to take control of a user’s SIM card and all the data coming to their phone number.

Though the average consumer may not have heard about the dangers of using SMS in two-factor authentication, the tech community has known about the risk for a few years. Yet somehow Reddit missed the memo. “We learned that SMS-based authentication is not nearly as secure as we would hope, and the main attack was via SMS intercept,” Slowe wrote on Wednesday.

“What they are saying is that their cloud infrastructure had high-privilege accounts secured by crappy two factor protections and one of their admins was popped,” White says. “A high-value property like Reddit secured with some dude’s mobile number is no bueno.”

Reddit says that it will notify users whose current account password relates to credentials compromised in the breach, and will prompt those affected individuals to change their passwords. The company is encouraging everyone to “think about whether you still use the password you used on Reddit 11 years ago on any other sites today. If your email address was affected, think about whether there’s anything on your Reddit account that you wouldn’t want associated back to that address.”

The company also says users should do as it says, not as it (apparently) does, and only use authentication apps or physical authentication tokens for two-factor protection. As Slowe notes, SMS-based two-factor is not an option for Reddit accounts.

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