Editors Note: This is a guest post from Josh Schultze. a longtime fan of NBA 2K and member of Operation Sports. You can find Josh on Twitter @TheFakeJoshS or you can connect with Josh via his blog.
NBA 2K13, in some ways, is the most superior sports simulation on the market. But when I start up a game with the hopes of enjoying a realistic basketball simulation, I’m inevitably grounded by a few shortcomings within the game which I believe need to be addressed in the future.
And while I can paint with a much wider brush to critique this game, I’ll narrow this down to some attributes for NBA 2K which will revolutionize the series.
Let’s break down Offense Awareness; it’s a purposely vague skill within NBA 2K which makes users feel like its effects are more widespread than they actually are. There seems to be very little understanding of the concept of spacing in NBA 2K13.
Despite the improvements upon the last iteration of the game, AI players still interfere with the offense and more importantly, AI players don’t gravitate toward strategically advantageous areas of the court .
Deep sharpshooters step inside the three point line for no reason, and other players similarly move outside of their range for reasons I can’t comprehend.
All of this screams that the AI players don’t comprehend spacing and location on the floor.
The solution to this is to make spacing an actual rating within the game which solves this issue. Spacing will serve as basically offensive off-the-ball court awareness, and the players with higher ratings will be more inclined to cut at the right moments and basically move into areas of the court that challenge defenders and maximize their success.
Medium and Long Range Shots
Medium and long range shots are already related to attributes in the game, and I’m not suggesting they change dramatically from where they are at currently. But the boundary between these distances does not directly follow the three point line – it needs to be a specific distance from the basket.
The corner three is not just there to look cool – it’s tactically valuable because it’s essentially a long two that’s worth an extra point, and it doesn’t necessarily take a special skill set to knock them down. It helps if the shooter is great at knocking down threes, but I’ve also seen Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard make threes from the corner – shooting from the top of the arc is a completely different animal than from the corner, as one example of how shooting locations are simply different.
This is not Post Defense. Interior defense isn't about guarding a big man slowly ramming the defender under the basket for an easy two - it's that extra step the defender takes to deter a driving guard from finishing the play and forcing him to pass out and reset.
It doesn't take a professor of spatial reasoning to know that it is easy to make shots close to the rim, which makes interior defenders pretty valuable. And interior defense often comes down to a couple of steps taken by the defender at just the right moment to abandon an assignment and put a body between an attacking offensive player and the basket.
This is basically just the outside version of Interior Defense. Both of these two abilities are currently encompassed by Defense Awareness, but they require specific skills sets. And yes, NBA 2K13 gives a letter grade for Perimeter Defense, but the calculation is skewed toward athleticism, so guys like Jason Terry and Ray Allen can score in the B range, which means it’s a flawed metric to begin with.
Grading Kobe Bryant's perimeter defense is challenging. He's been voted one of the best defensive players in the NBA, and indeed, at times, he can be a nightmare for offensive players. But the Lakers typically match up the slower Metta World Peace against the offense's best wing player (to give Bryant some rest) and Bryant just doesn't always appear that invested in defense.
This is not just a Kobe thing, though; the phenomenon is witnessed in players who are saddled with more offensive responsibility. So as troublesome as this concept may be to some fans, defensive effort should be a measurable ability. Players with low defensive effort will play lax at times on defense when they get tired or are just carrying the load on offense. If Emotion is a player rating, this can totally be one, too.
Again, this is largely a critique of Awareness ratings. Defense Awareness may include the ability to sense off-ball cutters, but I'd prefer it chopped up into a few unambiguous categories. Off-ball defense would cover tendencies such as ball-watching tendencies, handling off-ball screens, rotations, and the awareness to realize that the offensive player has just snuck into the corner to set up a three.
NBA 2K doesn’t currently value defensive players very highly since the majority of their skill sets are made up of two attributes (On-Ball Defense and Defense Awareness) plus athleticism, so defensive specialists often wind up with poor overall ratings, and thus they ride the bench.
Ok, so this one is not an attribute, but I might as well throw it in here. This would require altering the player models, which could get tricky, sure. But wingspan gives players an added advantage in rebounding, blocking, and on-ball defense, since offensive attackers have to get around defenders’ arms before they can drive to the hoop.
It's not just a college degree anymore. This ostensibly resembles the Defensive Anchor ability, but teams need to suffer or benefit more from typical player talk on the court.
Certain players, like Andrew Bogut, talk to their teammates on defense to prevent breakdowns. These players are usually given the Defensive Anchor ability, but teams shouldn’t just benefit from great communication – they should suffer when the players don’t talk to each other. Poor communicators would lower each player's defensive ratings, whereas great communicators could improve team defensive ratings.
Manu Ginobili has been on the court about 23 minutes a game this season and has not cracked the Spurs’ starting lineup once (until the playoffs). In March, Ginobili was the first NBA to ever appear on a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) and said he is “comfortable and happy with [his] role on the Spurs.” So why does he moan and complain when I try to bring him off the bench for my Association Spurs?
Even LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade sat multiple games (Wade may have an injury issue, but likely he’s being rested as a precautionary measure) and no one’s heard them whining.
Players in NBA 2K can be bigger divas than actual NBA players, and many of them start to grumble even when they sit for one meaningless game due to their long-term fatigue.
Ego doesn’t have to be an attribute – it can be designed similarly to player personalities so that an individual player might not care if he’s benched for a stretch of games, but will freak out if he’s benched for the rest of the season when his team decides to tank for a lottery pick.
Josh Schultze is a writer from Texas who somehow grew up a Green Bay Packers fan. He writes about sports, video games, movies and television on his blog, Most Valuable Waste of Your Time. He also enjoys posting entertaining thoughts in 140 characters or less; follow him on Twitter @TheFakeJoshS